The Necessity and Power of Prayer
By Pastor Michael Olawore
New Wine Church, London
Foundation Scripture: Matthew 6: 5-13 , Luke 18:1
Sunday 14th June 2015
We began a new series last week, by examining a message titled ‘The Power of Fasting’. We agreed that prayer and fasting is non-negotiable, hence it is a matter of ‘when’ and not ‘if’. Fasting is primarily a means to augment and strengthen our prayer power. Prayer or fasting as an entity is not as potent as the combined power of prayer and fasting. As we focused on fasting, we agreed that fasting aids us in relegating our physical gratifications for a period of time in order to achieve a greater spiritual goal. It is usually an opportunity to say ‘no’ to our natural desires and ‘yes’ to God. It is ultimately instrumental in aligning our spirit, soul and body to God’s will and His purpose for our lives. We concluded with the five benefits of fasting, namely: (a) It strengthens our prayers (b) It aids in seeking God’s guidance (c) it aids in seeking deliverance and protection (d) It humbles us before God, and lastly it (e) It empowers us over temptation.
As Christians, most of us are used to praying. Interestingly, our constant exposure to prayer has desensitised us to understanding the importance and potency of what our prayers are meant to effect. It is so easy to switch to ‘auto-pilot’ prayers these days without fully engaging and apply the principles that ensure that our prayers are effective. Perhaps, the reason why we have not been witnessing the breakthrough we desire in our prayer lives could be as a result of this. It is however important that we get our prayers right, because our destiny and the furtherance of God’s kingdom on earth depends on this.
Let’s take a look at our foundation scriptures which reads: ‘And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words’. “Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen (Matthew 6:5-13). On another occasion, Jesus emphasized the importance of prayer by saying that ‘…men always ought to pray and not lose heart’ (Luke 18:1). In our world today, man has been successful in finding a substitute for various things, but we have not been able to find a substitute to prayer.
Down through the ages, we have examples of people who moved and changed the course of history and shaped destinies through their prayers. Every success in life can be attributed to a prayer success, and every failure in life can be traced back to a failure to pray. Heaven’s plan be revealed and effected only by prayer, hence the reason why Jesus taught us to pray ‘Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven’. Our prayers are vital to making things happen – Prayer changes things. Prayer is the invisible cord that connects heaven to the earth, and it is by our call to God in prayer that God’s purposes and plans can be established here on earth.
Without an iota of doubt, the devil is always afraid of a praying church, a praying parent and a praying believer. The demons tremble when God’s people begin to pray.
Historically, men and women who changed the course of history did so with their prayers. Genesis 20:17 records the account of Abimelech and his family who were healed by God when Abraham prayed for them. Samuel 1:10 and 27 gives us another account of answered prayers when Hannah prayed to God for Samuel and her request was granted. Here is James 5:17-18 ‘Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit’. In modern history we have stories of the lives of prayer warriors like John Knox, Martin Luther, John Hyde, Brother Lawrence, DL Moody, John Wesley, George Whitefield and Charles Spurgeon. Here are some quotes about prayer starting with John Wesley: ‘God does nothing except in response to believing prayer’. SD Gordon says: ‘One should never initiate anything that he cannot saturate with prayer’ and ‘The greatest thing anyone can do for God or man is pray’. Here is a quote from Martin Luther: ‘I have so much business I cannot get on without spending three hours daily in prayer’. These men understood the power of calling on God in prayer.
Today, let’s find out more about the protocol and necessity of prayer. Psalm 115:16 gives us an insight into this truth: ‘The heaven, even the heavens are the LORD’s; but the earth He has given to the children of men’. The Message translation gives us a bit more insight: ‘The heaven of heavens is for GOD, but he put us in charge of the earth’. From the creation story, we read about this mandate God gave to man, instructing him to rule the earth as recorded in Genesis 1:26: ‘Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
These two scriptures outline God’s principles on governance on earth. Hence, God’s plan to rule on earth always requires the cooperation of a man.
There are various accounts from scripture that corroborate this principle. God parted the Red sea in Exodus 14, only after Moses obeyed and lifted up his rod as instructed by God. Another account in Joshua 3 reveals the same pattern – God dried up the Jordan River in response to the call and obedience of Joshua and the priests. It must be reiterated that even though God is powerful and can do all things, He has committed Himself to this principle. Deuteronomy 9:3 reads: ‘But now you will see for yourselves that the LORD your God will go ahead of you like a raging fire. He will defeat them as you advance, so that you will drive them out and destroy them quickly, as he promised’. Unfortunately, many Christians are oblivious to the mandate that God has released and placed in our care. So then, when we pray, we are giving God permission to move on our behalf. A portion of the Lord’s prayer from our foundation scripture gives us Jesus’ angle to this discourse: In teaching us to pray, ‘May your Kingdom come; may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven’, he was simply validating this same principle – our prayers gives God permission to establish a replica of His heavenly kingdom on earth.
Man has the legal right to function here on earth, our bodies being the authorization that God has given us for this. Jesus had to become a man in order to save humankind from sin. Isaiah 9:6 reads: ‘For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given’. He was fully human and fully God. Furthermore, the Holy Spirt requires our cooperation before He can move on earth. The bible records that we (our bodies) are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19), without which the Spirit cannot direct, lead and instruct us in bringing to fruition the plan of God for our generation (On another note, evil spirits and demons can only function on earth, when they possess a person). Once our assignment here on earth is finished, our endless spirit returns to God. In summary, the Spirit of God, or that of man, or even evil spirits cannot function on earth without a body.
As God’s agent or representative here on earth, our prayers are vital to giving God the permission to move on earth - hence, if we do not pray nothing will happen, and heaven withholds the blessings packaged for use on earth. God has already blessed us with all spiritual blessings in Heaven, and our prayers simply ‘pull down’ those blessings for our use.
Many of the issues that we are dealing with in our world today are as a result of prayerlessness. Attendance at a Church-wide prayer meeting is low in comparison to a regular Sunday service, because many Christians are lackadaisical about prayer gatherings. Yet, the revivals that have made headlines in yesteryears have been as a result of the intercession of men like John Wesley and Charles Spurgeon who prayed for Heaven’s intervention on earth in their generation.
If God’s will is to be established on earth, it has to be done through our individual and corporate partnership with Heaven. John 10:1-3 reads: “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber’. Jesus’ statement in this passage describes the legitimacy of being born into the world. As God’s representative born into the world, our prayers instigate and effect God’s plans on earth. The more Christians pray ‘Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven’, the more Heaven can intervene and bring about solutions to the problems we face on earth. The more we pray, the more we can expect a revival in our nation. 2 Chronicles 7:14 put it this way: ‘If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land’. Only when we pray, will heaven respond. Even though we all pray at various times of the day – over meals, in our cars and before we sleep – regardless of how long or short we pray, we must be mindful of praying effectively. So then, if we are more deliberate in applying the rules of engaging in effective prayers, we can begin to see significant changes in our world.
So far we have seen the necessity of engaging in prayer. Heaven depends on our prayers to effect change on earth. So when you pray, you must be deliberate in not being cavalier about it. Your prayers bring down Heaven’s kingdom and influence, loaded with your blessings, victory and all that Heaven has prepared for use on earth. More so, God is waiting and looking on for men and women who will engage in prayer. Without our prayers, we are in danger of not benefiting from all that God intends to do on earth. It is this same principle that applies to our access of grace. Although grace has been made available by Jesus death and resurrection, yet it takes our prayers to access it.
As God’s children, it is vital that we understand how prayer works. It is not sufficient to know what prayer does, but equally and possibly much more important to know how it works. Mark 11:23-24 reads: ‘For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says’. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. From this passage we can infer that heaven is always ready to release the blessings, if our faith is engaged. Since the enemy understands the essentiality of our faith in prayer, he often works overtime to introduce doubt into our hearts when we pray. Believing necessitates the involvement of a conscious awareness of your thoughts, mind and heart, focusing on what you are praying about. If while praying your heart is wandering from your prayer point, then you are not likely to fully engage in prayer as heaven demands.
So faith is vital in our prayers – this is the only virtue that heaven recognizes in relation to your prayers. When your prayers ring in the corridors of Heaven, a faith-filled prayer is being looked for. So then, when we pray, it should be done from the heart and secondly filled with faith. Thirdly, we cannot engage in prayer and hold a grudge against someone. Mark 11:25 reads: “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses”. It is vital that we walk in forgiveness so that our prayers are not hindered.
God want our hearts, and if we would make an impact for Him before He calls us home, we must give our prayers the riveted attention that it deserves.
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