Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Power of Prayer

Prayer does not come naturally, it is hard work, it requires alertness of mind and readiness to the Spirit. Our natural tendency will always be to try to figure it out ourselves first. Often unsaid it goes like this, I will make this happen, but when it gets difficult and I can’t see my way through then I will call on God for help, rely on His Holy Spirit. However, we can no longer afford to operate in this default mode. We need the Lord to speak into our lives every step of the way. We cannot let the opposite grow true or we will simply die as a life giving place of real change in the economy of God!

The problem is that from day one we have learned the rules of self reliance…”If I don’t do it, it won’t get done….or if I don’t do it, it won’t get done right!” Prayer flies in the face of self sufficiency and it is alien to our proud nature

The absence of prayer lessens all the life forces of the soul, cripples faith, sets aside holy living, shuts out heaven. E. M. Bounds

At the same time prayer has to be a joy filled and guilt alleviating exercise. It is meant to bring the transcendent peace of God over all circumstances in our lives. Philippians 4:6,7

God wants us to know that He is enough, enough to handle whatever we are going through, even though you doubt it, He is enough!

Our heart reveals the awareness of prayer, our spiritual history is the best book on prayer. Our character is made by prayer and our lives are perfected through prayer. The disciples struggled a lot with the call to prayer in Jesus’ ministry. They couldn’t stay awake while He had his most intense struggle of prayer in Gethsemane. The richest of revelations are not made but revealed by God through prayer.

1 Corinthians 2:9-11

However, as it is written:
"No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
no mind has conceived
what God has prepared for those who love him"— 10but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.

He who learns well the trade of praying masters the secret of the Christian art and becomes a skilled workman in God’s workshop. E. M. Bounds

God’s power flows through people who PRAY!!

It has been said that when we work, we work…I get that, but when we pray, God works. I’m tired of trying to make it happen. It is high time to get serious about the power of prayer! Some people say oh it is just coincidence when prayers are answered….but you have to admit it is pretty amazing how many coincidences happen when you begin to pray! Most people call it luck; God’s people call it divine providence.

Mark 4:35-41 may not strike you as a passage on prayer, but it is so rich in what it has been teaching me.

  1. Leave The Crowd Behind

That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. v35,36

Jesus gives you permission to stop. I don’t know what you are doing right now that is so important. There was some great teaching taking place and Jesus was relating the kingdom of God to the parable of the sower, the lamp, the growing seed, the mustard seed. Finally Jesus says ‘time’s up’. There are more important things that keeping busy, more important things than more ministry, filling up your calendar with dates, checking your email etc…Can you get to the place in the day where you say enough…enough of doing stuff to feel like you have to accomplish one more thing. If you are an A type personality this will be difficult for you. It will be difficult to stop, to keep yourself from doing, but that is what God is asking from you.

If you are the type of person who just thrives in the crowd and you just can’t get enough of being with people, being where the action is. The message for you is the same…’Leave the crowd behind’. Stop trying to get all your worth and affirmation from all those around you. God is saying get alone with me.

  1. Expect The Unexpected

A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. v37

As we pray we become more aware of the storms around us. God will prompt you to respond to the very real situations that people are facing all around you. The battle for the souls of men and women becomes more acute and we know that something has to be done.

All too often we go into prayer with little to no expectations and that has to stop. We need to see the invisible. A great example of this is the story in 2 Kings 6

"Don't be afraid," the prophet answered. "Those who are with us are more than those who are with them."

17 And Elisha prayed, "O LORD, open his eyes so he may see." Then the LORD opened the servant's eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

We our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces in the heavenly realms….and pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.

  1. Pray Like You Mean IT!

The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” v38

It was a desperate request and from all appearances it felt like Jesus was not engaged in the situation. They also knew that at this point He was the only one who could do anything about it and why wasn’t He?

There are many things that we will never be able to reconcile in our hearts and minds about the ways of God. “His ways are higher and so our thoughts”. Sometimes we get a glimpse into His eternal purposes and then sometimes we are left guessing; however, thankfully this life is not the final chapter. He is in the business of reconciling all of creation to Himself.

As I have been reading through the book of Job and hopefully some of you are still with me on this 52 week journey and reading along in the Foundations journal that you were given…but as I read, I appreciate the honesty of his prayers. There is something that you need to realize sooner than later in your prayer life…get real with God!

Ephesians 6:18b-19 With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel.

  1. Submit Yourself To His Control

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid?

Do you still have no faith?” v39,40

The disciples really had no choice but to trust that Jesus would ‘show up!’ Their very lives depended on Jesus showing up. Some of us unfortunately wait till we get into the squall to call upon Him and He wants you to ultimately rest in Him at every point of your life.

Difficult circumstances perfect us as they did in this situation, but can we get to the place that our rest in Him can be so strong that even the craziest storms can’t unsettle us? I don’t know, but He knows.

He wants to show up in your life now, not tomorrow, not when the storm starts, He wants to be with you in the calm before the storm.

My prayer every week is that God will show up. It is my prayer that His presence would be so unmistakeable that you will know that you have met with the living God. That is why I’m here and I hope it is the same for you….If He doesn’t show up then we are just going through the motions.

  1. See Him Act Firsthand and be AMAZED!

They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” v41

Praying makes the eternal more and more real. Jesus led the way through His prayer life and created a greater incentive to pray. The glory of His transfiguration was preceded by prayer. It is as we continue to pray that we will see lives transformed. It is in the same way that we all with unveiled faces continue to reflect the glory of God….it comes through prayer. It changed Moses appearance and it will change yours!! 2 Corinthians 3:17,18

It is such a powerful thing to put your finger on times in your life when you have known and seen God’s hand at work. He has changed your heart, He has changed your appetite for spiritual things. He has brought your friend or family member to the Lord. You asked for something very specific and real and He has answered. Why are we surprised then.

The Takeaway:

Prayer is as real and as powerful as we expect Him to be!

Questions For Discussion and Small Groups:

  1. What difference does prayer make in your life?
  2. How can prayer sometimes impose on our individuality?
  3. How do you respond to this statement, “The most intimate communion with God only comes through prayer.”
  4. What draws you into praying?
  5. What causes you to resist praying?

No comments: