The Power of Prayer
Posted on 12/11/2005 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.
"I was glad when they said unto me, 'Let us go to the house of the Lord.'" (Psalm 122:1)
It is an honor to be here with you this morning! For some of us, this is a wonderful addition to our real life services. For others who cannot attend a gathering of believers for various reasons, I thank God he has provided the means for us to gather together in his name, to worship him together, to feast on his Word and drink in his presence, and to fellowship together.
Please touch-click the pulpit for a notecard, and feel free to take notes.
Let's start out this morning by going to the Lord in prayer.
Our Father, thank you for a brand new day. Thank you for loving us no matter what we do, and for giving us the Holy Spirit to empower us to live holy lives which please you.
Teach us this morning. Open our ears to hear your Word, and may it sink deep down into our hearts and change our lives.
We ask these things in the name of Jesus, and may all the glory and honor be unto him.
*** Listen to the audio of this week's message to join us in praise and worship. The audio can be found in the message archives, located on the home page of livingsounds.org ***
The message this morning is something that God has laid on my heart very strongly these past few weeks. How many of us in this room want to see God move through us? How many of us want to see him move in the lives of those around us? How many of us want to see him move in the virtual world?
Is it just me, or is there any one else here this morning who wants to see the sick healed? Is there any one here who wants to see the broken hearts mended? Is there any one here who wants to see those in bondage to oppression, addiction, and torment set free?
How many of you believe that God is able to heal us? God is able to deliver us? God is able to work miracles, and that God is able to move in such a powerful way that there is not enough room to receive those who are coming to Jesus?
Jesus told his disciples that the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. We tend to treat work as a four-letter word (which it is, by the way), and we tend to think of our relationship with Jesus as being work-free. But if you've had a successful relationship, you know it is NOT work-free.
In Mark chapter nine, the disciples were trying to cast out a demon, but it just wouldn't leave. Then Jesus steps in and commands it to leave, and it obeys. Naturally, the disciples wanted to know why they could not cast out the demon, and why Jesus could.
If I hadn't already read this passage, I would guess that because Jesus was God in the flesh, the demon HAD to obey him, and that's why Jesus could cast it out, but the disciples could not.
And yet we must remember that while Jesus was fully God, he was also fully man. He had to do the same things we have to do in order to see the same results.
Let's find out why Jesus was able to cast out the demon and, I dare say, why he went everywhere healing and even raising the dead. Let's read from the ninth chapter of Mark, beginning with verse 28.
"And when Jesus had come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, 'Why couldn't we cast out the demon?'
And he said to them, 'This kind can come out by nothing, except by prayer and fasting.'" (Mark 9:28-29)
A couple of weeks ago, during our time of fellowship we have after every service in Second Life, someone reminded me of this saying: "Much prayer, much power. Little prayer, little power. No prayer, no power."
And this is so true. Just take a look at any great move of God throughout our history. They were all preceeded by people dedicating themselves to prayer, coupled by fasting, and empowered by personal commitments to holiness.
Do we want to see God moving in our lives? Of course we do. But what price are we willing to pay? I believe most of us in the room are willing to give our lives rather than deny Jesus. And with that being the case, we also surely are willing to dedicate ourselves to seeking God in prayer.
If we don't venture out of our comfort zone, we can't expect to see God move in an extra-ordinary way. When he does, it will be because someone has paid the price down on their knees. My question to you, and my question to myself this morning is, will we be that someone? Will we see God doing amazing things somewhere else, or will we see him doing amazing things in our own lives and in the lives of those we know and those we love?
Lord, give us the burning desire to see you touch hearts and change lives, and increase that desire until we lay aside our comfort and the cares of this life, and we seek your face in prayer, and fasting as you lead.
Jesus is our example. We are supposed to follow his lead in all things. We read in second Corinthians chapter three and verse eighteen, "But we all, with open face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are changed into his image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord."
We know that Jesus rose up early in the morning to pray. Anyone who works with the public, and especially those who work in the ministry, know how much it can drain you. Jesus had people crowding him every day from sunrise to sunset. He needed sleep, rest, and relaxation. And yet he rose up before morning to fellowship with his Father, and to wage war in the heavenlies, winning the breakthroughs which would need to manifest throughout his day.
If Jesus did this, how can we, sinful people, expect to see the power of God move in and through us if we do not pray?
We're in the process of forming a prayer ministry. And a prayer ministry MUST begin with each of us making the decision to get alone with God every morning to pray.
While there are many great teachings on prayer which we will make available to you, there will ALWAYS be more to learn and we must start somewhere.
If the Lord leads you to get up at 2:00 in the morning and pray for six hours, then do what he says; but to the rest of us, I suggest starting out small. Are you already praying 15 minutes every morning? Then starting tomorrow, pray 20. Are you not praying in the morning at all? Then tomorrow morning, pray five minutes.
Jesus' disciples one asked him how to pray. We read his answer in Matthew and also in Luke chapter eleven, beginning with the second verse:
"And Jesus said unto them, When you pray, pray after this manner:
Our Father who is in heaven, Holy is your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one who sins against us. Do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For yours is the kingdom and the honor and the power. Amen." (Taken from Matthew and Luke 11)
There is a whole series of teachings on this method of praying. Basically, if you'll use this as an outline, you will find that praying is not hard at all.
Here are seven steps Jesus' example prayer can be broken into:
1. Praise God, your Father, the Holy One.
We can begin by praising God. If you don't know how to praise him, just praise him about his goodness. Tell him about how perfect and wonderful he is. Praise him for how holy he is. And acknowledge to him and to yourself that he is your Father, he has forgiven you for your sins and adopted you as his own. Jesus is now your older brother, and because of the blood he shed on the cross, you can be forgiven and be seen by your Heavenly Father as pure and holy as he is.
2. Ask for His Kingdom to Come.
What is the kingdom of God? We can look at this three different ways, and all would be correct.
a. Righteousness, peace, and joy
"The kingdom of God is not food or drink, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit." (Romans 14:17)
b. His authority and order in your life and the lives of others
A kingdom has a king, and a king has authority. His loyal subjects obey his commands, and a good king makes only good commands which are designed to help his people. A kingdom also has government, an order of command. God's order is perfect, and when we align ourselves with God's ways of doing things, his righteousness, peace, and joy will result. This is also a good time to ask for God's kingdom order to be established in your home, and also in the lives of others, including those who have not yet come into the kingdom.
c. His eternal kingdom which he will establish on earth when he returns.
We can say, along with the spirit inside us who yearns for his return, "Come quickly, Lord Jesus!" Let us pray daily for his return, and that we will be ready when he comes and that we will bring many with us.
3. Ask for His Will to Be Done.
Submitting to the will of God is something we should purposely do every single day. And to do the will of God, we need to know what it is. This would be a good time to ask for guidance, and surrender to him, no matter where he leads, or doesn't lead. We know from Proverbs chapter three verses five and six, that if we "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and don't depend on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths, making them plain and straight."
4. Ask for Provision and Truth.
"Give us this day our daily bread." Certainly the same God who clothes the flowers in splendor and provides for the birds will much more meet your needs, you who are made in his image and for whom he sent his Son to die. He also says in Matthew 4:4 that "man will not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God." At this point, in addition to asking for material, emotional, and physical provision for myself and others, I like to ask that God will teach me today, and feed my spirit man with his bread from heaven, and by the words which proceed from his mouth; that I would hear them, and they will bring me life.
5. Ask for Forgiveness and Ask to Forgive.
Jesus explains that if we do not forgive others for their sins against us, our Father in heaven will not forgive us for our sins. We desperately need his forgiveness, for unforgiven sin will separate us from him, both now and for eternity. Sometimes we need his help to forgive those who have sinned against us. If we ask him, and keep asking, he will change our hearts, and we will see miracles happen where there once was only bitterness and pain.
6. Lead Us Away from Temptation; Deliver Us from Evil.
First Corinthians 10:13 tells us, "There has no temptation taken you but what is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but will with the temptation provide a way of escape so you may be able to bear it." Sometimes we need God's help to see that way of escape, and we need a fresh filling with his Holy Spirit to have the strength to run when our flesh is crying out for us to "stick around." God is faithful, and knowing what temptations you will face tomorrow, he prepares a way of escape today, so that when the temptation comes, you'll have a way to run, so you can stand.
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7. Yours is the glory, and the honor, and the power forever. Amen.
Praise God again! All the glory and honor and power and praise belongs to him and him alone. This is not the end of your prayer. Rather, it is only the beginning. First Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to "Pray without ceasing." Our days should be days of prayer, as we commune with God at all times. Our time of prayer in the morning is the time to get our "prayer motors" started, as well as having a time alone with God, and placing him first as our number one priority.
We will talk more about prayer in the new year, but my encouragement and challenge to you is this: Pray with us now, and starting tomorrow morning, set your alarm for five minutes earlier, and spend that five minutes in prayer. It will change your life. And as we join together in this thing the Holy Spirit is calling us to do, it will change the lives of those around us.
Lord God, thank you that you make yourself available to us, and that you are calling us to begin each day seeking you, in the beauty of your presence, and the splendor of your holiness.
I ask that you place that burning desire in each of us to push all else aside and spending that time with you every morning, starting our day of prayer as we are mindful of you in the midst of everything we do.
Our Father who is in heaven, we magnify and glorify your holy name! You are king of kings, and Lord of lords! You alone are worthy to be praised! We magnify and exalt you, for you are our father, and in you we put our trust and our hope, for you alone are our Salvation!
Lord, establish your kingdom in our lives this morning. May our thoughts line up with your thoughts. May the meditations of our heart be pleasing and acceptable in your site, O Lord. As we stay our hearts and minds upon you, may your righteousness, Lord, be established in our lives, bringing peace and joy those without you can not know.
Lord, perform your will in our lives. Perform your will in this body, as we seek to glorify you here in the virtual world. And if anything in our lives does not line up with your Word and with your will, make any adjustments. We surrender our wills to your will, Lord! Not our will, but yours be done.
There are needs here this morning, Lord; needs of healing in both body and mind; there are broken hearts that need to be mended; there are finances that need to be healed. You are not a God of lack, but a God of abundance. Pour out your blessing upon us, as we seek to please you more and reflect your face to those around us. Feed us your bread from heaven, and may we hear and embrace your every word, for your word is life!
Forgive us, Lord, for all our thoughts and ways which are against your thoughts and ways. Forgive us for complacency, for staying in our comfort zone instead of doing what you have shown us to do to get closer to you and thereby lead others to you as well.
If we hold unforgiveness against anyone, I ask that you bring that to our attention now, and give us the grace to forgive. We choose to forgive everyone who has sinned against us, for we all have sinned against you and we all deserve the same eternal judgement, but you not only forgave us, but sent your Son to die in our place. We don't deserve your forgiveness, but it is given to us freely, and we freely give it away.
Lord, all of us in here this morning face temptation every day, but you have already prepared in advance a way for us to escape so that we will be able to stand. Open our eyes so we see that way, and may we stay in your presence so that we have the power to run away from temptation, as we run toward holiness and purity.
And we give you all the glory and honor for what you've done, and for who you are! There is none besides you, Lord, and we give you glory in all we say, all we do, the meditations of our heart, and with our lives.
And it's in the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
If you need prayer for anything, if you'd like someone to stand in agreement with you, or if you just want to come kneel in the presence of the Lord, this altar is open. The ministry team can also come to the front, and they are available to pray with you, and listen to what's on your heart. If you do not have a personal relationship with Jesus, today is the day to begin the most wonderful, exciting, and beautiful journey imaginable. Come speak with one of our ministers, and we will welcome you into the Family of God as a son or daughter of the King, and an heir to his Kingdom: his righteousness, his peace, and his joy in the Holy Spirit.
Come forward now, and for those who are still in your seats, pray with us, and wait around for our time of fellowship afterwards.