The Power of Prayer

ALL NATURE DECLARES the glory of God, for which we can express our gratitude in prayer and praise to the living God. (Ps. 19:1) But prayer in its most intimate form is even more wonderful. To the child of God it is a priceless heritage, a supreme privilege of family relationship, the mark of sonship whereby we cry, “Abba, Father!”

Prayer is no ritual of creed, or tawdry trapping of ceremonious worship; no muttering and mumbling of incoherent phrases in dead languages; no unctuous and ostentatious words which spring from pride of heart or a desire to be seen and applauded of men.—Matt. 6:7

Apart from the ‘unspeakable gift’ of his Son as our Savior and Redeemer, no other gift of God to his children has such tremendous implications as this privilege of prayer. (II Cor. 9:15) Paul’s introduction to his great work for God was through prayer: “Behold, he prayeth.” (Acts 9:11) Our Lord was led up into the wilderness after his baptism at Jordan, and we are told that he fasted forty days and forty nights. That time undoubtedly was spent largely in prayer and meditation upon the work which his Father had assigned him. (Matt. 4:1-11) It should be so with all of us; our work is God’s work. We are workers together with him—the issues are vital, eternal. We cannot touch them unaided; we must seek continual guidance through prayer.—I Cor. 3:9; II Cor. 6:1

Our Lord’s disciples asked to be taught how to pray. Did they not know? Had they not seen and heard him? Yes, but they realized that prayer to them was not what it was to him. Perhaps they wanted to know how to obtain answers to their prayers as he did. He did teach them, but it took a long time, and not until they received the power of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost did they fully realize the mighty power of prayer in their lives and in the lives of those to whom they ministered.

Do we know how to pray? Are we sure? How often we feel powerless, impotent in the face of unbridled evil, cruelty, injustice, arrogance, depravity, disease, and death. If we had the power we would stop these evil principles, but God has the power and does not. If we had this power could we use it wisely? Not in our present imperfect condition. Only God and our Lord Jesus, to whom all power has been delegated, can direct and control the power required in cases such as these.

The power entrusted to us is power through prayer. Let us ever realize that our best actions are enhanced by prayer, and made more discomforting to Satan, who may well tremble “when he sees the weakest saint upon his knees.” The Apostle James said, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” (James 5:16) Weymouth translated this passage as follows: “The heartfelt supplication of a righteous man exerts a mighty influence.” The key word here is ‘righteous’. None is righteous in himself, but as Paul explains so beautifully in his Epistle to the Romans, we have received the gift of righteousness through faith. “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Rom. 5:1,2) This implies sonship, and sonship is the entrance to the full privilege of prayer.

Who are sons of God? Paul tells us in Romans 8:14-16: “As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption [or sonship] whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.”

This is no wide open, standing invitation to all and sundry who render lip service, while their hearts are far from the Lord. It is a priceless privilege, an invitation under royal seal, into the most select, the most exclusive family circle that has ever existed—the divine family. Our God is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of Israel the great Creator of the universe; but never, until Pentecost, had he so graciously deigned to become the Father of individual sons and daughters, all enjoying the same intimate family relationship as his only begotten Son through whose precious blood and merit this marvelous privilege is made possible.

Here, then, is the instrument of divine power placed in our hands. How shat we use it? How, and for what should we pray? Let us look at some typical prayers of holy men of old who, although not begotten of the Spirit, were unquestionably led and guided by it.

A Prayer for Guidance: Genesis 24:12-14

Abraham had delegated a great responsibility to his servant, Eliezer, in sending him to choose a bride for his son, Isaac. (Gen. 15:2) Today it would be an impossible task, and even then it was a most delicate mission. The servant was a man of God, and he did the right thing. He sought God’s guidance, even to the extent of laying down the rules of procedure. Read the passage of Scripture: Genesis 24:12-14. The answer to his prayer is reflected in the happy outcome of his mission. We so often need guidance; let us not forget that prayer is the means to that end.

A Prayer for Action: I Kings 18:36,37

Elijah had come to the point with the prophets of Baal, where a ‘showdown’ was inescapable. The issue had to be faced; it was a time for action. “How long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him.” (vs. 21) This challenge in the name of God took courage, and Elijah was not lacking in it. He put God to the test, and action followed swiftly and surely. Read verses 36 through 39. Divine action is not always vouchsafed immediately to God’s people; but when it comes, it has a most salutary effect, even as it did upon Israel.

A Prayer for Deliverance: II Kings 19:14-19

Hezekiah and the people were besieged. Sennacherib, king of Assyria, was unconquerable—so he thought!—and the people were afraid. Hezekiah received the ultimatum and promptly “spread it before the Lord.” Deliverance was assured from that moment. Prayer does indeed lead to deliverance.

A Prayer of Dedication: II Chronicles 6:12-21

This is one of the grandest prayers ever spoken or penned. Solomon had completed his greatest work—the building of the Temple at Jerusalem—a magnificent structure of almost indescribable beauty. He offered it to God in this wonderful prayer as a dwelling place set in the midst of Israel, and the manner of his offering is an object lesson in devotion and humility: “Will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house which I have built!” (vs. 18) Solomon knew it was an unworthy dwelling for so mighty and majestic a deity, and so he concluded his prayer with an appeal for divine blessing and forgiveness: “Hear thou from thy dwelling place, … and when thou hearest, forgive.”—vs. 21

The Apostle John recorded these words of our Lord: “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” (John 14:23) Again, the Apostle Paul pointed out the same wonderful truth when he said: “Know ye not that ye are the temple of the living God?” It is in this temple, the temple of our hearts in which God deigns to dwell! What a wonderful thought indeed!

Our Lord’s Personal Prayer: John 17:17-26

Finally, that most sublime of all prayers! It was our Lord’s last personal intercourse with his Father before he was betrayed. Read verses 17 to 26. He lifted up his eyes to heaven and said, “Father!” To his followers he said, “When ye pray, say, Our Father.”—John 17:1; Luke 11:2

This is our seal of sonship, as it was his, to be able to address our Lord Jehovah in this manner: “Our Father which art in heaven.” What a mighty power this can be in our lives if only we use it as we should. It is our lifeline, our line of communication. Keep it intact, use it incessantly, “Pray without ceasing,” and victory is assured!—I Thess. 5:17

“Hear thou from thy dwelling place,
even from heaven;
and when thou hearest, forgive!”
—II Chronicles 6:21

Dawn Bible Students Association
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