The Power Of Prayer
By Dave Butts
"Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know" (Jeremiah 33:3).
Our God is a God of great power… power beyond our understanding. He spoke and all that is came into being. Every Bible-believing Christian believes in the awesomeness of the power of God. The question for us today is how we can touch that power in our own lives. Is there a way to connect with God’s power in such a manner that it impacts our existence? Yes! The connection is prayer.
Someone once defined prayer as: "God’s power released through man’s union with the Father, through Jesus Christ, by the Holy Spirit." Prayer is how we tap into God’s power.
The early church knew this. In the Book of Acts we read consistently about powerful prayer meetings – not just for opening and closing…but meeting for the purpose of prayer. In Acts 4:31, we see that the building shook as they were praying because God’s power was so great.
Down through the ages, the great men and women of God who have moved nations and had great influence for Christ have been people who were committed to prayer as a way of life. Hours every day were spent in prayer. We look at them and marvel, but they were no different than we are. They too had families, jobs, and problems…but they had discovered a secret. It was the secret of tapping into God’s power through prayer.
To encourage us in our prayer lives today, I’d like to look at five areas in which God has said He will give life-changing power – if we will ask:
1. He will give the power to change hearts. If you are a Christian, then you already have realized that there was once something wrong inside of you. You had a heart problem…a heart problem that had separated you from God. Though you may have wanted to do right, your heart wouldn’t let you. Something had to change on the inside. You needed a new heart. When you surrendered your life to Christ, He gave you a new heart. Now, you continue in prayer to ask God to clean and purify that new heart. He wants to work on you from the inside out. If you ask, there will be power to enable your heart to do what pleases God.
"The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord; He directs it like a watercourse wherever He pleases" (Proverbs 21:1).
"Create in me a clean heart, O God" (Psalm 51:10).
2. He will give the power to change habits. We are by nature, creatures of habit. Many of these are good. It’s good to be in a habit of reading the Bible at a certain time. It’s good to be in a habit of regular church attendance. There are many good habits. Most of us have discovered that once in a habit, it is difficult to break it. Unfortunately, this is true for bad habits as well as good ones. Most of us are caught up in some kind of habit that is harmful to us…physically, emotionally or spiritually. A good example is smoking. Just talk with someone who has tried to quit. Habits are hard to change. Many times a bad habit simply controls us. We see no chance of breaking free. It is at this point that prayer comes in. We can tap into the power of God and ask for help in changing our habits. Jesus taught us in Matthew 26:41, "Keep watching and praying, that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak." Do you have an unwilling spirit and weak flesh as you are trying to break a bad habit? Jesus gave the disciples the key to breaking a habit – "watching and praying." Pray so that you not enter into temptation – that is what a bad habit often is… temptation. We are to pray that we not enter it. It doesn’t mean you won’t have temptation. The habit that has been formed will continue to try to get you to enter into it. But we are not to open the door when temptation knocks. Prayer has the power to change habits.
3. He will give the power to change health. Health issues are a common prayer concern. Christians should always turn to the Lord when faced with physical problems. The God we serve is a healing God. He is One who cares about His people…not only spiritually but physically. There are many Scripture passages that connect prayer and healing. Psalm 30:2 is a good example: "O Lord my God, I called to You for help and You healed me." One of the clearest passages is found in the book of James: "The prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed" (James 5:15,16). We need to fervently pray for those who are ill, believing that God, through prayer, has the power to change health.
4. He will give the power to change heartaches. We all know what it is like to have a heartache. It may be someone we love who hurts us. Perhaps it involves a death in the family. It may be something we do or say that damages a cherished friendship. Maybe our church family doesn’t behave as we think they should. Our heartaches are many. It comes from being human in a world full of humans. We are all going to know heartache. But God does not want us to remain heartbroken. Our life is to be a joyous life. Jesus told us that He came to bring us life and life more abundantly. There is a power that can change your heartache to joy. It is the power of God released through prayer. Jesus said, "Until now you have asked for nothing in My Name; ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full" (John 16:24). Don’t despair when your life seems full of heartaches. Ask…that your joy may be full.
5. He will give the power to change history. Perhaps the greatest display of the power of prayer comes with the assertion that prayer can change history. The Bible teaches that the very direction of nations can be changed by the prayers of men and women like us. Psalm 106 gives a good example of this, citing the salvation of Israel occurring as a result of prayer: "Therefore He said that He would destroy them, had not Moses His chosen one stood in the breach before Him, to turn away His wrath from destroying them" (Psalm 106:23). Moses’ intercession on behalf of Israel changed the course of history. How desperately we need that kind of prayer today for our own nations. Where are the Moseses of today, who will cry out to God on behalf of sinful nations, and see the hand of God intervene in human history?
What amazing power is available to the Christian through prayer! God gives the power to change hearts, habits, health, heartaches and history. Our world is desperate for that power to be released. It is badly needed power…and available power…but still largely unused power.
My brothers and sisters, I challenge you to examine your prayer life. If you don’t like what you see, then drop to your knees. If prayer has been ritual, or only quick cries for help…then it’s time to make changes. There is power waiting for you. Power that we need. Power that the world needs to see demonstrated through the Church. Power that will only come through the power of God as His people pray.