Releasing Godís Power Through Prayer
The greatest privilege God gives to you is the freedom to approach Him at any time. You are not only authorized to speak to Him; you are invited. You are not only permitted; you are expected. God waits for you to communicate with Him. You have instant, direct access to God. God loves mankind so much, and in a very special sense His children, that He has made Himself available to you at all times. There are several elements to this amazing power He gives to you, including:
The Power to Cooperate with God
God has chosen to accomplish many of His sovereign purposes with our help. Paul repeatedly reminds us that God has appointed us to a sacred partnership for the purpose of Gospel advance. Paul emphasizes our sacred responsibility to work with God. Every form of obedience to God is urgent, but there are many situations in which we are limited. We may not be at the place of the need. We may lack special skills or training. But we can always work with God through prayer.
Through prayer we can cooperate with Him in any place, at any time, and for any kind of need. We are created to pray. We were saved by Godís grace to enter into a ministry of prayer. We have the liberty, the right, and the position of official children of God, called to work with God, chosen for this specific purpose.
Furthermore, God said in Exodus 19:5-6, "Although the whole earth is Mine, you will be for Me a kingdom of priests." Isaiah prophesied, "You will be called priests of the Lord" (Isa. 61:6). Why did Jesus make us "priests" to serve God (Rev. 1:6)? Why are all Christians called "a holy priesthood" (1 Pet. 2:5), "a royal priesthood" (v. 9)?
Obviously, part of Godís purpose in designating us priests is that we are to worship and praise Him. But it includes far more than that. We are to be a "royal priesthood." Christ today rules the world through prayer. We are to share this rule by intercession for others even as Christ constantly intercedes for them (Heb. 7:25). We have been given official access to heavenís throne room so that we may join our intercession with that of Christ!
If Christ intercedes, why is our intercession necessary? What could our puny prayers possibly add to His powerful intercession? God has been pleased to build into His eternal plan that we His children join with Christ in His intercessory role and rule today. If we are not using spare minutes in the ministry of intercession for others and for Godís work, we are failing God in the special calling to which He has called us. If we will, we can turn any radio or TV newscast or newspaper article into a call to prayer. We can be alert to share Godís heartbeat for a broken world. Prayer is the supreme way to be workers together with God.
The Power to Resist and Defeat Satan
Satan is the archenemy of God and man. "Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him..." (1 Pet. 5:8-9). He is the master strategist behind all the evil in the world. His kingdom consists of fallen angels, demons, and sinners. He is constantly seeking to discourage, delay, and defeat Christís workers and Christís work. He is determined to oppose in every way he can. One of his names is "Destroyer" (Rev. 9:11). He seeks to destroy people, homes, nations, and the plan and work of God.
Satan coordinates a host of unclean spirits called demons. They seem to have power to afflict people whom they indwell. Satan at times seems able to exert some control over forces of nature, and to counterfeit the work of God by demonic "miracles" (2 Thes. 2:9-10). He has such power and evil authority that even the archangel Michael called on the Lord to rebuke Satan (Jude 9).
How could you and I possibly resist or defeat Satan? Surely only God can restrain, bring under control, and defeat such a powerful enemy. But no, the Bible clearly gives this power to ordinary Christians like you and me.
We must not yield to temptation. Jesus set an example of how to do this by using Godís Word (Matt. 4:1-11). He urged Peter to be victorious by watching and praying (Matt. 26:41).
We must stand firm in faith. Scripture promises, "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you" (Jas. 4:7). The Greek word for resist means "to stand against." When Christ is with us, we can resist Satan.
We must pray. This is our most powerful weapon. Prayer brings the presence of Christ into manifestation, and Satan and his demons have to fall back like the mob in the Garden (John 18:6). Prayer grasps hold of the promises of God and erects them like a wall between us and the powers of darkness. Prayer can bring Godís angels rushing to our assistance (2 Kgs. 6:15-17; Dan. 10:13; Heb. 1:14). Prayer can overthrow the plans of Satan. Prayer can battle any combination of Satanís forces.
When Paul describes our spiritual warfare in Ephesians 6, he says, "Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (v. 12). In the previous verse Paul had spoken of our need to take our stand against the devilís schemes. He then lists the various aspects of the spiritual armor which we must wear in the warfare with Satan. But when we are fully armed, how do we fight? Paul suggests two ways Ė with the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, and with prayer.
Prayer is the master strategy that God gives for the defeat and rout of Satan. "Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests" (Eph. 6:18). Through prayer the Holy Spirit can so empower us that Satanís hold on lives is broken, Satanís hindrances to the kingdom are removed, and Satanís work is destroyed. Christ came to destroy the work of the devil (1 John 3:8). He did this potentially at Calvary, and Christ enforces Calvaryís victory through the prayers of His bride, the church. That is why the people of God are also the army of God.
If Godís people would only accept their sacred role as the army of God, if they would call one another to Godís priority of prayer, if they would join one another in militant, Spirit-guided, Spirit-anointed intercession, we could see Satan defeated and revival visitations descend from God. We could see the greatest harvest of souls we have ever known.
We are called to stop Satan, to drive back Satan, to defeat Satan through prayer and fasting. But we are too prayerless, too passive, too content with spiritual mediocrity and comparative spiritual barrenness. We seem content to let the devil gain the victory. God, wake us up! God, teach us to pray! God, lead us to such prayer warfare that we claim key people, whole families, and even entire continents for Christ! To your knees, and world evangelization can be revolutionized! To your knees, and Christís triumphs will be manifest!
The Power to Transcend the Laws of Nature
Prayer can transcend "the laws of nature." Prayer can bring Godís miracle answers to manís desperate needs. It would be useless to pray for many problem situations if this were not true. If there are limits to what God can do when we pray, then prayer is playing games with God, trifling with human need, and deceiving ourselves. No! Never! Prayer is as real as God is real. There is absolutely nothing that God cannot do if it will advance His kingdom and is in accord with His will. Prayer releases Godís power.
When God overrides His usual way of working ("the natural law") by some special expression of His will, we call it a miracle. To God it is just another of His works. Thus Jesus referred to His miracles as "works" (Gk. erga; see John 9:4; 10:25, 32, 38). Prayer is possible because God is almighty, the Sovereign of all His works. He has eternal purposes and plans. He will always transcend any of His normal ways of working to accomplish His moral and spiritual purposes and His eternal plans.
Thus prayer always has the possibility to cooperate with Godís eternal purpose and to secure the miracle power of God. He does not guarantee a miracle, but God is always open to our prayer for His will to prevail for His glory. Prayer is Godís ordained way to bring His miracle power to bear in human need.
The Power to Move Mountains
In the Bible, mountains are sometimes used in a symbolic sense, typifying strength and stability. On the other hand, mountains often symbolize difficulties, problems and hindrances. Thus, if we would prepare the way of the Lord, the crooked must be made straight and the mountains leveled. Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed (Isa. 40:3-5; Luke 3:4-6). When Godís mighty Spirit works, mountains immovable in any other way are as nothing before the power of God (Zech. 4:6-7). The Holy Spirit, who alone can accomplish this, can turn the most impossible mountains into roads and highways for rapid advance (Isa. 49:11).
Jesus used this Old Testament illustration in several of His teachings. When His disciples had failed to cast out the demon from the afflicted boy, Jesus told them that if they had possessed faith even as small as a mustard seed, they could speak to "this mountain" (symbolic of any insurmountable situation or problem) and "it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you" (Matt. 17:20). He immediately added that this kind of dramatic display would be the result of prayer and fasting (v. 21).
Again, when the disciples were amazed at Jesusí power to wither the fruitless fig tree, He repeated that not only could they do the same, but also could even command mountains to throw themselves into the sea for "if you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer" (Matt. 21:21-22). Mark records the same incident and quotes Jesus as saying, "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours" (Mark 11:24).
God expects His children to face mountains of difficulties and to move them. He does not intend for us to be stopped by them, but to accept them as a challenge Ė either to turn them into highways for Godís greater glory or else to cast them into the sea, completely removed from sight, as if they had never existed. Jesus assures us that this is fully possible when His children confront the mountains, believing, but reminds us that such mountain-moving may require prolonged prayer and fasting. The Holy Spirit will do the miracle. It will not be done by our might or power (Zech. 4:6).
Hundreds of mountains are impeding the advance of missions and Christís church today because we are relying almost completely on our own wisdom, skill, and effort. We had rather do almost anything but really give ourselves to prayer and fasting!
Prayer has mighty power to move mountains because the Holy Spirit is ready both to encourage our praying and to remove the mountains hindering us. Prayer has the power to change mountains into highways.
The Power to Bless
The God of the Bible is a God who blesses. His Word is full of multiplied promises that He will do just that. We can be assured that, except in cases where God must discipline or punish, it is always His will to bless people, especially His obedient children.
"[Jesus] went around doing good" (Acts 10:38). Like Him, we are to go through life blessing everyone we can. We, His disciples, are to be known for our good deeds of blessing to others (Matt. 5:16; Eph. 2:10). We are to be rich in good deeds (1 Tim. 6:18). We are to be "thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Tim. 3:17).
The greatest way in which Christians can mediate blessing is through prayer. We have the opportunity to pray for those we can contact in no other way. From the leaders of our nation and the leaders of our church to the poor, the needy, and the suffering Ė we can bring blessing to all through prayer. From our family and closest friends whom we see often, to those we may meet but once or only hear about Ė we can be Godís agents of blessing. The often-repeated request, "Pray for me," is really a plea for blessing and help.
As a Christian, you should go through life blessing others. You can bring streams of blessing, refreshment and encouragement wherever you go just by punctuating your days with unceasing prayer for others. As time and opportunity permit, you should bless in every possible way as many as you can (Gal. 6:10). Your presence should always bring a blessing. But this will be most true if you are faithfully asking for Godís blessing on all about you. You can find opportunities to fill your day with prayers of blessing if you are observant.
A beloved English physician of the 1600ís, Sir Thomas Browne, was an example of constant prayers of blessing. He said, "I have resolved to pray more and pray always, to pray in all places where quietness inviteth, in the house, on the highway and on the street; and to know no street or passage in this city that may not witness that I have not forgotten GodÖ
"I purpose to take occasion of praying upon the sight of any church which I may pass, that God may be worshipped there in spirit, and that souls may be saved there; to pray daily for my sick patients and for the patients of other physicians; at my entrance into any home to say, ĎMay the peace of God abide hereí; and after hearing a sermon to pray for a blessing on Godís truth and upon the messenger; upon the sight of a beautiful person to bless God for His creatures, to pray for the beauty of such an oneís soul, that God may enrich her with inward graces and that the outward and inward may correspond; upon the sight of a deformed person to pray God to give them wholeness of soul, and by and by, to give them the beauty of the resurrection."
Abraham was promised that God would bless him and make him a blessing (Gen. 12:2). This should be the experience of every Christian Ė the more God blesses, the more each of us should bless others. Prayer is the certain route to blessing, and prayer is the greatest means of being a blessing to others. Prayer is Godís gift of power to bless others. Oh, fill every day with prayers of blessing and take hold of the tremendous power God has given you!
Taken from Touch The World Through Prayer by Wesley L. Duewel. Copyright © 1986 by Wesley L. Duewel. Used by permission of the Duewel Literature Trust, Inc., Greenwood, Indiana. Dr. Duewelís books may be purchased by calling (317) 881-6751 Ext. 361.