The Potency of Prayer (Revised)

by Rick Wallace original written on Thursday, November 11, 2010 at 1:01pm Revised on Monday, March 21, 2011

The Potency of Prayer

 

Foundation Scripture: Mark 11:22-24; James 4:2-3

 

And Jesus, replying, said to them, Have faith in God [constantly].

23Truly I tell you, whoever says to this mountain, Be lifted up and thrown into the sea! and does not doubt at all in his heart but believes that what he says will take place, it will be done for him.

24For this reason I am telling you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe (trust and be confident) that it is granted to you, and you will [get it]. (Mark 11:22-24 AMP)

 

You are jealous and covet [what others have] and your desires go unfulfilled; [so] you become murderers. [To hate is to murder as far as your hearts are concerned.] You burn with envy and anger and are not able to obtain [the gratification, the contentment, and the happiness that you seek], so you fight and war. You do not have, because you do not ask.

3[Or] you do ask [God for them] and yet fail to receive, because you ask with wrong purpose and evil, selfish motives. Your intention is [when you get what you desire] to spend it in sensual pleasures. (James 4:2-3 AMP)

 

As we embark on today’s journey into the infallible Word of God, it is my earnest and heartfelt desire that God will reveal Himself in a powerful and succinct way.

 

It is now that I pray that God illuminate and elucidate His Word that we may be able to grasp in depth its true meaning; that it may touch our hearts in a manner that draws us ever closer to Him. I pray also that God decrease me in every way and increase Himself within me, that the message

is that of God and not of me. I further pray that the hearts of those that receive this message will be anointed with a spirit of lucidity, that they might receive the message in a manner that they are able to apply it to their daily lives, Thereby becoming more powerful and effective in their walk with Christ. This is my prayer. Amen

 

Today’s text focuses on the subject of prayer; not just prayer in the broad sense of the word, but more specifically, the effectiveness of true prayer.  We are concerned here today with prayer that is efficacious as well as perpetual in its efficacy.

 

It is my opinion that though prayer is the most powerful weapon in our arsenal, it is the most misused, underused, and misunderstood as well. I will endeavor to bring some lucidity to the function of prayer and its benefits.

 

What is prayer? Well, before we address this question, let discuss what prayer is not. Prayer is not a method of getting God’s attention, for God is perfectly cognizant of every detail in your life. Through His Divine attribute of omniscience, he knows all there is to know and does not need you to bring any of it to His attention. Prayer is not attempting to convince God to do something on your behalf, for God has already done all that is needed. Hebrews 4:3 tells us that the works were finished before the foundations of the World. This means that all that will ever be needed to function, progress, and prosper in the ethereal journey we call Christianity has already been completed by God in eternity past. Let’s look at this passage of scripture a little closer because there is a wealth of power in the apprehension of this passage.

 

3For we who have believed (adhered to and trusted in and relied on God) do enter that rest, ]in accordance with His declaration that those [who did not believe] should not enter when He said, As I swore in My wrath, They shall not enter My rest; and this He said although [His] works had been completed and prepared [and waiting for all who would believe] from the foundation of the world.)

4For in a certain place He has said this about the seventh day: And God rested on the seventh day from all His works.

5And [they forfeited their part in it, for] in this [passage] He said, They shall not enter My rest.

We see in verse 3 that the works had most definitely been completed before hand (before the foundations of the world0, but we also see that just because God has provided the inheritance, does not guarantee that all will receive them. There are some requirements that precede the obtainment of the inheritance. In this particular passage of scripture the inheritance in question is “REST”. The writer in Hebrews in comparing the Nation of Israel in the wilderness and the contemporary believer, both having the Gospel preached to them. The Israelites had failed to enter into their rest (the promised land of Canaan) because of unbelief and the disobedience associated with the unbelief.

 

2For indeed we have had the glad tidings [Gospel of God] proclaimed to us just as truly as they [the Israelites of old did when the good news of deliverance from bondage came to them]; but the message they heard did not benefit them, because it was not mixed with faith (with [c]the leaning of the entire personality on God in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness) by those who heard it;[d]neither were they united in faith with the ones [Joshua and Caleb] who heard (did believe). (Heb. 4:2 AMP)

 

6Seeing then that the promise remains over [from past times] for some to enter that rest, and that those who formerly were given the good news about it and the opportunity, failed to appropriate it and did not enter because of disobedience, Heb. (4:6 AMP)

So it is quite important that we understand that although the inheritance has been prepared for us, it is not automatic. We have to execute our faith, and we do that through by exercising our faith which produces obedience. One more thing to take notice of here is that the writer makes mention of the fact that God rested on the seventh day. This does not have any religious or sacramental implication, but what it speaks of here is the fact that God rested after His work was completed, and this transfers to us in that we shall receive the prepared inheritance after we have completed the work. The work for the Israelites in the wilderness was to believe and trust God,

which would have led to their obedience and their moving into the rest of the promised land. The same applies to the contemporary believer; we must execute faith and move in obedience to receive the inheritance.

 

Okay then, we have, at least a minimal understanding of what prayer is not, but then what is prayer? How does it work? Why do so many fail in their prayer lives? These are the questions I will endeavor to answer for you today. Unfortunately, too many believers are struggling in the area of prayer, mainly because they don’t have an understanding of its function. It is extremely difficult to operate in any area without some type of understanding of the dynamic process of what you are doing.

 

In defining prayer, we can say prayer is that function that allows immediate access to the throne room of God. It is open fellowship between the believer and his creator. It involves both, talking and listening; reaching out to God with fervency and passion. It is sharing our concerns and desires. Prayer is the believer’s most effective tool in developing a more intimate and active relationship with God and it opens the portal to power.

 

Prayer is a communication system designed by God, which in essence, opens up the portal to unlimited resources that through salvation have been placed at our disposal. It would be remiss to take a lethargical approach to our prayer life. Look at what God says concerning prayer in the book of Isaiah:

 

“It will come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear. (Isa. 65:24 NASB)

 

God, in eternity past, knew through His omniscience every prayer that every believer would offer up to him. God’s omnipotence gives him the absolute power to provide in advance the answer to everyone of these prayers. Let’s look even deeper into the Word concerning prayer:

 

I love the LORD because He has heard    my appeal for mercy. (A)

2 Because He has turned His ear to me,    I will call [out to Him] as long as I live. (Psalm 116:1-2 HCSB)

 

“I will call on Him as long I live.” What a powerful statement. David is saying that he will never cease to call on the Lord. We are told to pray without ceasing, 1 Thessalonians 5:17. With the power and effectiveness linked to prayer, why would anyone be satisfied with a perfunctory and stagnant prayer life? I believe one of the issues with prayer is that most of us for one reason are another, don’t have the productivity we desire from prayer.

 

In fact, the ineffectiveness of the Christian prayer life has become an ever increasing concern of mine. In analyzing the multitudinous conversations I’ve shared with some of you, I have noticed a lack of fervor, a lack of desire, and a lack of anticipation when it comes to prayer. James 5:16 tells us that the effectual fervent prayers of a righteous man avails much. What this means is that the heartfelt, expectant prayers have potency.

 

Unfortunately, too many of us have ascribed a sense of mundanity to our prayers. I might even dare to say that some view prayer as a necessary task or duty instead of an expectant privilege. Prayer has become ritualistic; we have confused religion with relationship. Christianity is not religion; it is a relationship that culminates in becoming one with Christ. It is a lived lifestyle, not a sacramental obligation! Religion has crippled us and made us mechanical and unresponsive the voice and promptings of God. We can’t hear God when he speaks because our movements are not properly motivated. We move out of ritualistic habit instead of through the motive love, adoration, and gratitude.

 

There is no wonder that there is so much concern when it comes to the effectiveness of our prayers. We have not grasped with certainty the true nature of prayer. Prayer has become something we have to do instead of something we yearn to do. True prayer has power. True prayer is never mandated by religious rite or sacrament. True prayer is extended through the free volition of the believer with earnest expectation, because prayer rests on the foundation of the believer’s faith. Prayer is to be enjoyed and passionately pursued instead of conscience driven.

 

C.H. Spurgeon, the prominent nineteenth century theologian and pastor, once said that when studying the Word of God, we must do three things: look at the text, look at ourselves, and then look above ourselves. With this in mind, let us first look at the text.

 

Therefore, I say unto you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them and you will have them.” (Mark 11:24 NKJV)

As we began to anatomize this text, it is to our benefit to consider the admonishment of Paul to Timothy:

15Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth. (2 Timothy 2:15 AMP)

 

With this scriptural admonishment in mind, let us now examine the text that is before us.

The first thing that we must take note of here is that our prayers require specificity. Christ says, “Whatever things you ask.” There must be something definite and specific for which you are praying. All too often we send up prayers that are nebulous and ambiguous, even to ourselves. These vague prayers lack concentration of specificity; meaning that there is no clear indicator of what we are seeking. We know we are in need of something, but are unclear as to what it is or we are unable to adequately express it. Without the focus of something specific and real for which we are praying, our prayers become empty and fruitless; perfunctory in nature! When praying we speak specifically and clearly what we are seeking. There has to be something clear on which our faith and hope rests.

 

Next, your prayers must be encapsulated by faith. Christ says, “Believe that you will receive”. A prayer insulated by faith is a prayer of expectation and hope. True faith demands that we see beyond the visible circumstance before us. True faith requisites spiritual insight; this insight comes through the Word of God; and is confirmed by the Holy Spirit. Faith does not consider the facts, because faith, by its very definition transcends fact. Stop looking at the outward circumstances and start believing that the God you serve is bigger than any circumstance you will encounter.

 

Why are we not walking in power? Why are pinned in by the enemy? Why are we lacking in so many areas? James 4:2-3 sheds light on this question:

 

‘…You do not have, because you do not ask.

3[Or] you do ask [God for them] and yet fail to receive, because you ask with wrong purpose and evil, selfish motives. Your intention is [when you get what you desire] to spend it in sensual pleasures.” (AMP)

We have failed either to ask our father for what we need or want or we are asking amiss. Asking amiss is simply asking for something with the wrong motive and intentions. So many of us make our wish list out for God with no reverence or consideration given to his will. Knowing and understanding the will of God is of utmost importance.

 

“So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Eph. 5:17 NASB)

 

“Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].” (Romans 12:2 AMP)

 

Our prayers have to be in line with the perfect will of God for our lives. No matter how passionate our prayer; not matter how intensely we profess; if we are opposite God’s will, we are praying in vain. Prayer is not a tool used to circumvent the sovereign will of God, but to perpetuate it. We are called in Romans 12:2 not only to know the will of God, but to move away from the thinking and ways of the world. One of the effective weapons of Satan has been his ability to infiltrate the Christian faith with worldly philosophies. I call this a comingling of the Word and the World and it is totally in direct opposition to God’s will.

 

This carries us into the next phase of our study, “Looking at ourselves”. When our prayer life is unproductive, it calls for introspection, a looking within, and a veracious assessment of where we are and what we are doing. We must search ourselves to find where we have fallen short.

 

In your personal prayer life, are you praying specific and direct prayers, or are your prayers traditional, rehearsed or repetitive, with no true passion? Are your prayers unaccompanied by faith and anticipation; just left in the air to linger? Have you taken the time to align yourself with the perfect will of God or are you still living by your own rules and standards? Are you living on

your own terms, yet arrogantly expecting God to honor your request? The audacity we display when we place our petitions and supplications at the altar after having shaken our fist in the face of God declaring: “This is my life.”

 

You may reply by proclaiming that you’ve done no such thing; however, each time you choose to move opposite to His will, any time you choose through your own volition to sin, any time you choose your way in neglect of God’s way you have said to God, “I will live my life as I please.” As a free willed creature, this course of action is of course, your prerogative; however, you must be prepared for the consequences, one of which is a stagnant and ineffective prayer life.

We must first align ourselves with the will of God before we approach His throne. When we examine ourselves, are we in line with God’s Word? Can we say with certainty that we are in unison with today’s scriptural text?

 

Lastly, let us look above! Let us first look to God and repent, for God has given us a powerful and mighty weapon in prayer and we have allowed it lie dormant and rust away from nonuse. How can we consider ourselves to be soldiers of the cross, when God has given us this matchless and unparalleled power, yet that power lies still, dormant, and untapped?

 

How Satan must emote with joy knowing that so many of us have failed to utilize this most awesome weapon at our disposal. In reviewing history it is said that the Roman Emperor Constantine saw that on the coins of other emperors before him that their image was struck in an erect posture of triumph. Instead of following suit, he ordered that his image be struck kneeling in prayer, for he said, “This is the way that I have triumphed.” Constantine had an erudite understanding that there is no victory without prayer.

We too, must come to this reality. We cannot prosper without prayer; there is no victory aside of prayer.

When we begin to see our prayer life as a privilege instead of a tedious task, it will open a pathway to victory. When we see prayer as a direct line to our power source, we will be able to face the vicissitudes of life without fear and anxiety. When we see the right to approach the throne of grace as an honor and not a burden, we will unleash the power of God into our lives and circumstances.

 

Many of us have been awaiting the movement of God in our situations. We have been searching for peace in the midst of the storm. We have been looking for something in which we can anchor our hopes. 2 Chronicles 7:14 lays out the powerful force of prayer as God speaks to Solomon concerning the temple:

 

“If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves, pray, seek, crave, and require of necessity My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.” (AMP)

 

Let us turn away from the selfishness of our self-centeredness toward God. Let us humble ourselves in His presence; let us seek his face with an anticipation of what’s to come. Let us know that when we seek Him at the point of His perfect and definite will, He will move mightily on our behalf. We will be able to gain ground in this spiritual walk. We will be able to claim the precious promises of God. We will be able to face the struggles of this life with a newfound hope; with renewed purpose and vigor. Through our prayer life, we will be able to embrace the truth that troubles don’t last always. In prayer we will find that we can do all things through Christ. Through prayer we will find that God’s grace is sufficient for every struggle. In prayer we will find that no weapon formed against us will prosper. Though prayer will find the Lord is mighty to save. Through prayer will find that our weapons are not carnal, but mighty in God to the pulling down of strongholds.

 

God is waiting to be gracious to you; He desires to do a new thing. He is prepared to touch every situation, every circumstance, every heartache, and every disappointment. God is ready to reach out and bring healing to every aspect of your life.

 

To those that are suffering in the horrible pit of relational dysfunctionality, God has an answer to your prayer.

 

To those that are burdened with financial strain, God has an answer to your prayer.

 

To those that have been struggling with addiction, God has an answer to your prayer.

 

I invite you to try him. Step out on faith and watch God as he moves through the show up process. We all know what God does when he shows up; He shows out!

 

Claim your blessing! Walk in triumph! Live in victory! Speak with power! Pray!

 

May you be richly blessed,

 

Rick Wallace

http://rickwallaceministries.com

 

 

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