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A People Who Prays

1. The Christian is a person of many high privileges. Life is not all doom and gloom. He has many
sweet privileges that the unbeliever never has.

2. He has the privilege of going to the Bible and reading God's love letter to his heart.

3. He has the privilege of going to church and hearing a gospel sermon that will help him to lead a
better life.

4. He has the privilege of fellowshipping with the finest people on earth—the people of God.

5. He has the privilege of helping others as a Good Samaritan.

6. He has the privilege of serving in the only army that will be forever victorious.

7. He has the privilege of prayer and thus he has great spiritual power. The privilege of prayer
must not be neglected.

There are Great Powers in a Christian's Life

1. There is the power of what a person is. It was a dark and gloom day in Boston. The next day
a reporter wrote these words in the paper "It was a dark and gloom day yesterday. Then Philip
Brooks walked through our office and the sun began to shine." Oh, the power of a Christian
life! Has anyone's day been made brighter by your life? Does anyone want to live for Christ
because they have seen Him living in you?

2. There is the power of what a person says. Just think of the power that men have spoken for
good or evil. During the days of the great depression Franklin Roosevelt gave American's hope
by reminding them that "the only thing we have to fear is, fear itself." Later, when the winds of
war blew in Europe, Winston Churchill held the nation of England together during the dark
days of WWII. When Hitler threatened to invade the island, Churchill went on the radio and
roused the people by saying, “We will never give up. We will never surrender. We will fight on
the beach. We will fight in the streets. We will fight from house to house but we will never give
up.” The only Englishman the mad dictator of Germany ever feared was the resolve and
rhetoric of this Prime Minister. Then there are the warm words of Jesus Christ Himself calling
sinners to salvation. “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you
rest.” There is power in what a person says.

3. There is the power in what a person does. Jesus "went about doing good" and that gave Him
a mighty power among the people. Billy Graham wanted to be a big league baseball player.
God wanted him to be an evangelist. Because he followed God, Billy Graham has been given
tremendous power and influence.
4. Surely man's greatest power is the power of prayer. It has been said that "Satan trembles
when he sees the weakest saint upon his knees."

Kingdoms have been won,

souls have been saved,
churches have been built,
lives have been blessed and changed because of prayer.

The sick have been healed

and prodigals have been brought home because of prayer.

Prayer has worked many marvelous things. To encourage our hearts in this area, the Bible
contains many promises concerning prayer.

Five Promises are Associated with Prayer

1. Sins will be forgiven.

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us
from all unrighteousness.

David sinned greatly. How did he find peace? He prayed for forgiveness in Psalm 51:1-3 and he
received it.

Psalms 51:1-3 To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came unto
him, after he had gone in to Bath-she'-ba Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy
lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I acknowledge
my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.

2. Wisdom will be supplied.

James 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and
upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

3. Healing will be divine.

James 5:5 Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your
hearts, as in a day of slaughter.

4. Our needs will be provided for.

Philippians 4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with
thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
5. Covenants will be honored (Matt. 18:19). Dr. George W. Truett was preaching on the promise
of Matthew 18 in a revival service. During the time of the invitation a woman stood up and
asked for all to hear. "Dr. Truett. Do you believe what you just preached?" "Yes I do," he
replied. "Then will you covenant together with me that my husband will be saved during these
preaching services?" Dr. Truett confesses that he was stunned for the moment with the
boldness of the request. Suddenly, a man stood up and said by faith, "I will covenant together
with you in prayer to believe that your husband will be saved." The strangers met together at
the altar to pray. The next night the woman brought her husband but he was not saved.
However, the day after, while the pastor was in his study, there came a knock on the day. It was
the unsaved husband on his way to work. But first, he had to find out what he must do to be
saved. Covenants will be honored when people pray.

Why Do Christians Pray?

1. To get things from God. This may seem selfish but it is the Lord's own method. Study the
prayers of the Bible and you will see how much asking there is. Jesus gave us the "model
prayer." In five verses there are six requests.

Matt 6:9-13 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be
thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this
day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not
into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the
glory, for ever. Amen.

Dr. John R. Rice wrote a wonderful book called Prayer: Asking And Receiving. The song
writer encourages us to sing

“What a friend we have in Jesus,

All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry,
Everything to God in prayer!

O what peace we often forfeit,

O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!”

2. To prevent worry.

Philippians 4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with
thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

"I would no more worry than I would curse or swear," said John Wesley. Psa. 34:6 records
that, "This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles."
3. To keep in close touch with God. When we are near someone, we can fellowship with them.
But time and distance makes us forgetful. The same is true with God. But remember this, if
God seems far away, you moved.

Why Are Prayers Not Answered?

1. Prayers are not answered because they are not offered.

James 4:2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and
war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.

Henry Ford had a friend in the insurance business, but one day Mr. Ford bought a million-
dollar policy from another insurance agent. His friend called and asked why. Mr. Ford replied,
"You didn't ask me!"

2. Prayers are not answered because there is a wrong motive.

James 4:3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your

The Lord is interested in what we ask for and why we ask for things. Our hearts are to be
guided by holy motives with God's glory in view.

3. Prayers are not answered because there is a wrong spirit in our hearts.

Psalms 66:18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.

Bitterness, jealousy, and hatred will poison the fragrance of prayer.

4. Prayers are not answered because the Christian is not abiding in Christ and keeping His

John 15:7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall
be done unto you.

5. Prayers are not answered because the Lord sees the prayer is not sincere and is not
earnest enough.

Moses cried out, "Answer my plea for Israel or blot me out of Thy book!"

Jacob said, "I will not let thee go unless you bless me."

John Knox said, "Give me Scotland or I die!"

The Bible says, "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (James 5:16).

6. Prayers are not answered because it is not believed that the prayers will be answered.
Sometimes, because God has a sense of humor He might just go ahead and answer our prayer
despite unbelief as He did in the case of the saints who were praying for the release of Peter
from prison. But they did not really believe it was going to happen despite the fact that the
apostle was banging on the front door of the house!

7. Prayers are not answered because there is a lack of submission to the known will of God.

Conclusion. We must always pray in the right spirit with the confidence that God wants to answer
our prayers for the sake of His own dear Son.

In the Civil War a well-to-do couple lost their only son. Their sorrow was overwhelming.
They shut themselves up with their grief and refused to see anyone. One day a young man rang
their doorbell and asked to see them. The butler told him that they would see no one, that they had
suffered a great loss. The young man pulled a letter out of his pocket and said, "Take this to them."
The butler carried the letter in to the couple. The man trembled as he saw the handwriting on the
letter. "Look mother," he said, "this is our son's handwriting." He read the letter with trembling
hands and quivering lips and this is what it said:

"Dear father and mother. The man who brings you this letter was my best friend in the
army. He helped me on many occasions. Now in what I believe will be my last hours he is with me.
If he ever comes your way, give him the best you have, for your son's sake."

You know what that couple did, don't you? They took that young man in and gave him the
best they had, for their son's sake.

Our Father in heaven is rich, He holds the wealth of the world in His hands. He has all we
need and is ready and willing to supply those needs. So come now and call upon Him and He'll give
you the best He has for His Son's sake.
When People Pray

“And when they had prayed,

the place was shaken where they were assembled together;
and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost,
and they spake the word of God with boldness.”
Acts 4:31

Before prayer we can do very little spiritual good. After prayer we can do much more. A
great amount of activity without prayer will often result in failure. The same effort with prayer will
often result in great success. In fact, prayer attended every major spiritual event in the Bible.

Before the nation of Israel was created,

Abraham prayed to God and Isaac was born.

Before the children of Israel were brought out of the

Land of Bondage there was a Passover and prayer.

Before a new civilization was created after the flood,

Noah worshipped God. He prayed.

When Solomon dedicated the temple, He prayed.

When the walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt and dedicated

following the Babylonian Exile, Nehemiah and Ezra prayed.

Before Jesus began His great earthly ministry, He fasted and prayed.
Before the Lord called His disciples, He spent the night in prayer.
Before Calvary, there was Gethsemane. In the garden Jesus prayed.
Before the power of Pentecost came, there was prayer.

In all these events and more we discover that when God's people pray, powerful and
glorious things happen. God's people not only must pray but they will pray even when forbidden to
call upon the name of the Lord

Acts 4:18 And they [the Jewish officials] called them [the apostles], and commanded them
not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered and said unto
them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. 20
For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.

While it was wrong for the officials of Jerusalem to prohibit prayer, it was right for the
Christians to pray for many great things happened. Observe the following.
1. The Christians were filled with the Holy Spirit.

Acts 4:31 And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled
together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with

To be filled with the Holy Spirit means

 to possess a power greater than one's own.

 to have a priority that transcends worldly things.
 to know less of self and more of the Saviour.

2. The Christians found new courage

Acts 4:18 And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name
of Jesus…31 And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled
together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with

There are many things that make us timid.

 Fear of failure.
 Fear of rejection.
 Fear of ridicule.
 Fear of physical abuse.

There is Someone who can make us bold enough to say no to those who sin while inviting
them to come to the Saviour for salvation and cleansing. When Martin Luther was told that he
would be killed if he went to the Diet of Worms, he answered, "If every tile on every house in
the city turned into a devil, I will still go up and take my stand." His courage was born of
communion with Christ.

A certain martyr on the way to execution said to his executioner, "Feel of my pulse, it is calmer
than yours." His courage was born of prayer.

It was said that the personal presence of Caesar made every common soldier a hero. And when
we pray, the personal presence of Jesus makes us bold to stand up for Him.

When we pray we find courage not only to do right but to be right.

3. The Christian community become united in the presence of prayer. We read of the New
Testament church that the saints were of one heart and one soul.

Acts 4:32 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither
said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all
things common.
In mythology we read about Cadmus, who slew a dragon. Then he took the dragon's teeth and
sowed them broadcast in a fertile field. When he returned later he found that each seed had
sprung up into a giant. He was afraid of what they might do to him so he decided to employ a
clever ruse to cause the giants to fight each other. He threw a stone and struck one of the giants
on the ear. This giant thought that another giant had struck him, so a fight ensued. Soon all the
giants were fighting each other and before long all of them were killed, while Cadmus looked
on and laughed.

Our churches are full of potential spiritual giants, but Satan often sows discord among the
members and they end up as spiritual pygmies, fighting one another. This gives Satan his
highest joy. But when Christians really pray together, they are more likely to become of one
mind in the Lord.

4. When Christians pray they have a better sense of stewardship.

Acts 4:32 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither
said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all
things common.

Realizing that they had been bought with a price, the early Christians put everything they
owned at the Lord's disposal and by so doing were able to help each other.

5. The love of Christ is free to flow when Christians pray so that others are attracted to the

Acts 4:33 "Great grace was upon them."

The countenance of a spirit filled child of God is radically different.

One day President Lincoln was dealing with would be office holders. He turned one man in
particular away. When his secretary asked why, Lincoln replied, "I did not like his face." "Is
that really fair, Mr. President," asked the secretary. Replied Lincoln. "I don't know. But after
thirty every man is responsible for his own face."

When Moses came down from the mountain where he had been communing with God, his face
was shining. Prayer will calm our spirits and change our countenance.

6. When Christian pray, places are shaken. Things begin to happen.

One night Paul and Silas were arrested for preaching the gospel. While in prison they prayed
and sang songs. God listened to the voice of his saints and moved to help them. The earth
shook and the prison doors were cast open.
The captain of a small ship was taken ill while at sea. There was medicine in the medicine
chest, but those on board the ship did not know which medicine to give the captain for his
particular illness. There was one hope—maybe they could send a message out and a ship,
which had a doctor on board, would pick it up. So the radio operator flung out a message for
help, north, south, east, and west. Soon an answer came across the waves, the correct medicine
was given to the captain and his life was saved.

Somebody called this "a parable of prayer." But we see one difference here. The radio
operator sent out a message over the air waves, hoping that someone somewhere would be hear
it. He did not known whether or not the message would be received. But when we pray it is
not a message flung aimlessly in the air. We send it directly to God. We know there is One
who will hear, and we know our cry will reach the Father's ear.

When Christian pray, wonderful results begin to happen.

Doctrine of Prayer

1. Prayer may be simply defined as a communication with God.

2. Because God is personal, all people can offer prayers.

3. However, sinners who have not trusted Jesus Christ for their salvation remain alienated from
God. So while unbelievers may pray, they do not have the basis for a rewarding fellowship with
God. They have not met the conditions laid down in the Bible for effectiveness in prayer.

4. Christians recognize their dependence upon their Creator. They have every reason to express
gratitude for God's blessings. But they have far more reason to respond to God than this.

5. They respond to the love of God for them. God's love is revealed through the marvelous
incarnation and life of Christ, His atoning provision at the Cross, His resurrection, as well as
His continuing presence through the Holy Spirit.

6. Devout good works in a needy world cannot replace prayer. Important as service to others is, at
times we must turn away from it to God, who is distinct from all things and over all things.

7. Neither should prayer be thought of as a mystical experience in which people lose their identity
in the infinite reality. Effective prayer must be a scripturally informed response of persons
saved by grace to the living God who can hear and answer on the basis of Christ's payment of
the penalty which sinners deserved.

8. As such, prayer involves several important aspects.

 Faith. The most meaningful prayer comes from a heart that places its trust in the God who
has acted and spoken in the Jesus of history and the teachings of the Bible. God speaks to us
through the Bible, and we in turn speak to Him in trustful, believing prayer. Assured by the
Scripture that God is personal, living, active, all-knowing, all- wise, and all-powerful, we
know that God can hear and help us. A confident prayer life is built on the cornerstone of
Christ's work and words as shown by the prophets and apostles in the Spirit-inspired
writings of the Bible.

 Worship. In worship we recognize what is of highest worth-- not ourselves, others, or our
work, but God. Only the highest divine being deserves our highest respect. Guided by
Scripture, we set our values in accord with God's will and perfect standards. Before God,
angels hide their faces and cry, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts"(Isa 6:3).

 Confession. Awareness of God's holiness leads to consciousness of our own sinfulness.

Like the prophet Isaiah, we exclaim, "Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of
unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the
King, the Lord of hosts" (Is. 6:5). By sinning we hurt ourselves and those closest to us; but
first of all, and worst of all, sin is against God (Ps. 51:4). We must confess our sins to God
to get right with Him. We need not confess them to another being. But we should confess
them directly to God, who promises to forgive us of all our unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

 Adoration. God is love, and He has demonstrated His love in the gift of His Son. The
greatest desire of God is that we love Him with our whole being (Matt. 22:37). Our love
should be expressed, as His has been expressed, in both deeds and words. People sometimes
find it difficult to say to others and to God, "I love you." But when love for God fills our
lives, we will express our love in prayer to the one who is ultimately responsible for all that
we are.

 Praise. The natural outgrowth of faith, worship, confession, and adoration is praise. We
speak well of one whom we highly esteem and love. The one whom we respect and love
above all others naturally receives our highest commendation. We praise Him for His
"mighty acts... according to His excellent greatness!" (Ps. 150:2), and for His "righteous
judgments" (Ps. 119:164). For God Himself, for His works, and for His words, His people
give sincere praise.

 Thanksgiving. Are we unthankful because we have not received what we deserve? But if
we got what we "deserved," we would be condemned because of our guilt. As sinners, we
are not people of God by nature. We have no claim upon His mercy or grace. Nevertheless,
He has forgiven our sins, granted us acceptance as His people, and given us His righteous
standing and a new heart and life. Ingratitude marks the ungodly (Rom. 1:21). Believers, in
contrast, live thankfully. God has been at work on our behalf in countless ways. So in
everything, even for the discipline that is unpleasant, we give thanks (Col. 3:17; 1 Thes.

 Dedicated Action. Christ's example does not require us to withdraw from society, but to
render service to the needy in a spirit of prayer. He wept over Jerusalem in compassionate
prayer, and then He went into the city to give His life a ransom for many. Authentic prayer
will be the source of courage and productivity, as it was for the prophets and apostles.

 Request. Prayer is not only response to God's grace as brought to us in the life and work of
Jesus and the teaching of Scripture; it is also request for our needs and the needs of others.
For good reasons God's holy and wise purpose does not permit Him to grant every petition
just as it is asked.

9. Several hindrances to answered prayer are mentioned in the Bible:

 Iniquity in the heart. Psalms 66:18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear

 Refusal to hear God's law. Proverbs 28:9 He that turneth away his ear from hearing the
law, even his prayer shall be abomination.
 An estranged heart. Isaiah 29:13 Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw
near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart
far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:

 Deliberate sinful separation of self from God. Isaiah 59:2 But your iniquities have
separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will
not hear.

 A conscious prone to waywardness. Jeremiah 14:10-12 Thus saith the LORD unto this
people, Thus have they loved to wander, they have not refrained their feet, therefore the
LORD doth not accept them; he will now remember their iniquity, and visit their sins. 11
Then said the LORD unto me, Pray not for this people for their good. 12 When they fast, I
will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and an oblation, I will not accept
them: but I will consume them by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence.

 Offering unworthy sacrifices. Malachi 1:7-9 Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and
ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the LORD is
contemptible. 8 And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame
and sick, is it not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or
accept thy person? saith the LORD of hosts. 9 And now, I pray you, beseech God that he
will be gracious unto us: this hath been by your means: will he regard your persons? saith
the LORD of hosts.

 Praying to be seen of men. Matthew 6:5-6 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the
hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the
streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 6 But
thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy
Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

 Spiritual pride in fasting and tithing. Luke 18:11-14 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus
with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust,
adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I
possess. 13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto
heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14 I tell you, this
man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth
himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

 Lack of faith. Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that
cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek

 Doubting or double-mindedness. James 4:3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss,
that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
10. More positively, God has promised to answer our requests

 God is pleased when the hungry are fed and the afflicted are comforted. Isaiah 58:9-10
Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I
am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and
speaking vanity; 10 And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted
soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday:

 God is pleased to answer prayer when it is believe that what is asked for shall be received.
Mark 11:22-24 And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God. 23 For verily I say
unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast
into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he
saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. 24 Therefore I say unto you,
What things soever ye desire, when ye pr ay, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have

 God promises to hear the prayers of those who are forgiving of others. Mark 11:25-26 And
when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is
in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. 26 But if ye do not forgive, neither will your
Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.

 God is pleased to answer prayer which is offered in the name of Christ. John 14:13-14 13
And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in
the Son. 14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.

 God will answer prayer when Christ is honored and His Words are obeyed. John 15:7 7 If
ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done
unto you.

 God hears those prayers offered in the Spirit. Ephesians 6:8 Knowing that whatsoever good
thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.

 Prayers are answered following gospel obedience. 1 John 3:22 And whatsoever we ask, we
receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing
in his sight.

 Prayers asked in accordance to the will of the Lord are honored. 1 John 5:14-15 And this is
the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he
heareth us: 15 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have
the petitions that we desired of him. Until we have properly responded to God and His
Word, He cannot entrust us with His powerful resources.
11. Prayer is request to a personal Lord who answers as He knows best. We should not think
that we will always have success in obtaining the things for which we ask. In His wisdom,
God hears and answers in the way that is best.

12. Effectiveness. Prayer has power over everything. God can intelligently act in any part of the
universe or human history. Although some people think prayer is a waste of time, the Bible
declares that "the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much" (James 5:16).

13. Prayer meets inner needs. One who prays will receive

 freedom from fear (Ps. 118:5-6),

 strength of soul (Ps. 138:3)

 guidance and satisfaction (Is. 58:9-11),

 wisdom and understanding (Dan. 9:20-27),

 deliverance from harm (Joel 2:32),

 reward (Matt. 6:6),

 good gifts (Luke 11:13),

 fullness of joy (John 16:23-24),

 peace (Phil. 4:6-8),

 freedom from anxiety (1 Pet. 5:7).

14. Is prayer effective only in the inner lives of those who pray? No, prayer can make a difference
in the lives of others.

15. Biblical writers believed prayer for others could result

 in greater wisdom and power (Eph. 1:18-19);

 inward strength, knowledge of Christ's love, filling with God's fullness (Eph. 3:16-19);

 discernment, approval of what is excellent, filling with the fruits of righteousness (Phil. 1:9-

 knowledge of God's will, spiritual understanding, a life pleasing to God, fruitfulness,

endurance, patience, joy (Col. 1:9-12);

 a quiet, peaceable life (1 Tim. 2:1-2);

 love for one another and all people, holiness before God (1 Thes. 3:10-13);

 comfort and establishment in every good word and work (2 Thes. 2:16-17);

 love for God, steadfastness in Christ (2 Thes. 3:5);

 the sharing of one's faith, promotion of the knowledge of all that is good (Philem. 6);

 and equipment for every good work that is pleasing to God (Heb. 13:20-21).

16. Some people who think prayer can affect others question the ability of God to change His usual
patterns in the physical world. But some prayers in the Bible changed nature and physical
bodies. Jabez prayed for enlarged borders and protection from harm (1 Chr. 4:10). Other
people in the Bible prayed for various things.

 deliverance from trouble (Ps. 34:15-22),

 deliverance from both poverty and riches (Prov. 30:7-9),

 deliverance from the belly of a great fish (Jon. 2:7-10),

 daily bread (Matt. 6:11),

 preservation and sanctification of spirit, soul, and body (1 Thes. 5:23), the healing of the
sick (James 5:14-15), and the ending of the rain and its beginning again (James 5:17-18).

17. When the disciples prayed, the building around them shook (Acts 4:31) and an earthquake
opened the doors of their prison (Acts 16:25-26). Our prayers do make a difference in how God
acts in the world!
The Promises, Purposes and People of Prayer

Matthew 6:5-8

1. The Promises of Prayer

 God promises to hear the prayer of the Christless unbeliever asking for salvation.
Romans 10:13 says that, "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be
saved." This includes the thief on the Cross and the vilest sinner who ever lived, Saul of
Tarsus. He said he was the chief of all sinners.

 God promises to hear the prayer of the Christian:

who confesses sin honestly and openly (1 John 1:9; Psa. 51:1-3).
who can pray for his enemies. Jesus said in Luke 6:28 that prayer was to be made for
such people. "Bless them that curse you and pray for them which despitefully use you."

who is concerned enough for the pastor to pray for him as the saints in Thessalonica
prayed for Paul (2 Thessalonians 3:1,2).

who desires the wisdom of heaven (James 1:5).

who draws upon Him for divine healing (James 5:15).

who delights in seeking the Lord for his needs (Phil. 4:6; Phil 4:19).

 All prayer should be offered in the name of Jesus (John 14:13,14). God will answer
every true prayer that is offered in His name, in the right spirit, and according to His

2. The Purpose of Prayer

 We must pray in order to get things from God. Prayer is not window shopping but it is
asking and receiving. Therefore, prayers are to be definite and specific.

 We must pray in order to get into the right attitude with God and man. When we are
angry with someone, when we are upset, we do not want to pray for others. Usually, we
do not want to pray at all. But when we are obedient to the will of the Lord and pray in
spite of our feelings, a change comes into the heart. Prayer cleanses the heart.

 We must pray in order to keep from worrying. "Be anxious for nothing, but in
everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made
known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep
your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6,7). Dr. W. Hershel Ford
writes in one of his many books, "Every preacher who has ever tried to do anything for
the Lord has had those in his church who tried to hurt him and tear down his work. I
have had my share, but God has always brought me out. I have learned to take my
burden to the Lord, to thank Him for what His has done in the past and to ask for His
help in the present. And I can testify that he does give a peace that no one can

I guess every pastor has those who oppose his ministry. The tension comes when
individuals rise up against the pastor according to an established pattern.

The pattern begins by simply meeting together on a regular basis to share "concerns."

Then recruiting takes place one by one of those who come into the select group. Time
and secrecy and the spreading of fear become allies.

Finally, when the numbers have grown and the group feels bold enough, they move
against the pastor who has been set up with labels.

There are doctrinal labels.

There are personal labels.
There are professional labels.

More often than not, the labels are unjustified as presented. Mostly the labels are not
fully understood but they sound sinister. Labels sound full of substance though they are
simply nothing but an empty note of sounding brass. The Psalmist wrote, "This poor
man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles." (Psalm

 We must pray in order to keep in close communion with God. The song writer wrote,
"What a fellowship, what a joy divine, Leaning on the everlasting arms; What a
blessedness, what a peace is mine, Leaning on the everlasting arms."

3. The People of Prayer

 Hezekiah prayed. One day the great army of the Assyrians came down and encamped
against Jerusalem. Sennacherib sent an insulting letter to King Hezekiah. "Your God
cannot save you," he wrote. "We have destroyed other cities and we will destroy your
unless you surrender immediately." When Hezekiah received the letter, he did not
confer with court officials or advisers; he went into the house of the Lord. There, he
spread the letter before God and he began to pray. In answer, that night, God sent His
angel into the camp of the Assyrians and slew 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. The victory
was won because of prayer.

During his days as President of the United States, Jimmy Carter tells that he had a small
room next to the Oval Office where he would go often to pray. One of the many things
he prayed for were the safe return of the hostages held in Iran. The Lord was faithful.
Though Ronald Reagan got the credit, all the hostages were returned home safe. From a
human point of the view, the hostages were returned in an act of political good will.
From a divine point of view, the hostages came home because of prayer.

 Peter prayed. While he was in prison waiting to be executed the next day, Peter prayed.
Sixteen soldiers guarded him and still Peter prayed. Then he went to sleep. Meanwhile,
in the home of John Mark's mother, a group of Christians continued their prayer vigil
and the Lord was gracious. An angel was sent to lead Peter out of prison and to the
place where loving saints were crying out to God. God answered prayer in such a
marvelous way it was too good to be true.

 George Muller prayed. In Bristol, England, this man of God prayed. During his
lifetime, he took care of more than 2,000 children and raised more than seven million
dollars. He never asked anyone for money or anything that he needed. He just told God.
In addition to the children, George Muller supported hundreds of missionaries, gave
away thousands of Bibles, and established many schools for poor children. Wonderful
things happen when people pray.

We believe that and yet we do not pray. We are much like the slave who lived in the
South after the Civil War. At the end of the Civil War a southern man's slaves had all
been set free. But he had one servant whom he loved and who was devoted to him. He
called him in and made a promise. "Samuel, if you will stay with me, and if you will
care for me, I'll see that you are cared for even after I am gone." The faithful servant
stayed. The years passed and the old man died. Then Samuel mowed lawns, chopped
woods and ran errands until he was too old to work very much. He lived in a poor shack
and could hardly find enough to eat.

One day a man said to him, "Samuel, your old master told me that he put $5,000.00 in
the bank for you. God down and get what you need." So the next morning Samuel went
down to the bank. He shuffled up to the teller's window and asked if it were true that
Marse Tom had left him money. "How can I git it?" he asked. The teller knew that
Samuel could not write, so he said, "I'll make out a check for the amount you want, then
you make your mark on the check and I'll give you the money." "Can I have as much as
fifty cents?" the old man asked. "Yes," answered the teller, "you can get any amount up
to $5,000. "Then just make out the check for fifty cents," Samuel said. The check was
made out. Samuel put his mark on the paper and got .50 cents leaving 4,999.50 in the
bank. And that is the way it is with most of us. Either through ignorance or indifference
we leave heaven's spiritual bank with very little. "We have not because we ask not."
That can change as we learn the promises of prayer, understand the purposes of prayer
and then become in the end, true people of prayer.
How Prayer Helps in the Christian Life

James 5:16-20

A group of preachers were on a train on the way to a convention. They talked about many
things, and finally the discussion came around to the needs in the preacher of the life. Many needs
were spoken of and finally one old preacher who had lived a long and useful life for the Lord said,
"Our greatest failure is that we do not spend more time upon our knees."

1. Four Points About Prayer

 Prayer is an instrument in the process of salvation. "For whosoever shall call upon the
name of the Lord shall be saved" (Romans 10:13). One day, two men went into the
Temple of Jerusalem to pray. One was a Pharisee, the other was a publican. Later, the
Pharisee went home dignified but the publican went home justified for he cried out to
God for mercy.

 Prayer is natural and necessary for Christian growth. When Paul was first converted, he
was blinded for three days. Ananias was told to go and find Paul who was praying.
Later, Paul would tell others to pray without ceasing. This is not difficult when our
whole life is God conscious and we live moment by moment in a spirit of thanksgiving
according to 1 Thessalonians 5:18: “In everything give thanks for this is the will of God
in Christ Jesus concerning you.” There is so much to be thankful for. God is the source
of all blessings.

As we give thanks so we should pray in the spirit of penitence. "There is not a just man
upon the earth, who doeth good and sinneth not." By being conscious of our weakness,
we will honestly confess our sins.

 We need to pray more often for others. 1 Samuel 12:23 says, "God forbid that I should
sin against the Lord by not praying for you."

 God answers prayers. Jeremiah 33:3 says, "Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and
show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not." Sometimes God says Yes,
No, or, Wait. To our petition and to our motive God will say either

Petition Motive

Yes Yes
No No
Yes No
No Yes
2. Prayer helps.

 Prayer helps in time of trouble. We all have trouble be it physical, financial, emotional,
marital, job related, family related etc.

 Prayer helps in time of sorrow. We sorrow but not as others who have no hope, no future,
and no God.

 Prayer helps us find God's will for our lives. Perhaps you have heard of the preacher who
was called to a new church and how he said to his wife, "Honey, you pack up while I pray
about this call." Peter Marshall felt that he was under sealed orders (Romans 12:1-2).

 Prayer helps us to overcome temptation. We do not have to sin but we choose to sin. 1
Corinthians 10:13 teaches that, "There hath not temptation taken you but such is common
to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able;
but will with the temptation also make a way to escape that ye may be able to bear it."

 Prayer helps us to love Jesus more. The best friendships are based upon conversations.
Intimate communion with Christ comes through prayer.

 Prayer helps us in our Christian service. The great men and women of the Bible were great
because of prayer and close communion with God. Martin Luther said, "I have so much to
do that I could never accomplish it if I did not spend at least two hours a day in prayer."
Time spent in prayer is never wasted. From nature come an illustration of the value of
spending time with God.

The camel, at the close of day,

Kneels down upon the sandy plain
To have his burden lifted off
And rest to gain.

My soul, thou, too, shouldst to thy knees

When daylight draweth to a close,
And let the Master lift the load
And grant repose.

Else how canst thou tomorrow meet

With all tomorrow's work to do,
If thou thy burden all the night
Dost carry through?

The camel kneels at break of day

To have his guide replace his load,
Then rises up anew to take
the desert road.
So thou shouldst kneel at morning's dawn
That God may give thee daily care,
Assured that He no load too great
Will make thee bear.

Power in Prayer

1. We are living in an age of power. There is electric power. There is atomic power. There is
nuclear power. There is rocket power. There is missile power. But the greatest power of all is the
power of prayer for behind prayer is God who can harness or unleash all the other powers of the
Universe. Jesus put the power of prayer at our disposal when He said in John 15:7 "If ye abide in
me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you." John
14:4 says, "If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it."

2. Of course, other passages teach us that if we are to avail ourselves of prayer there must be a
clean heart, a pure life, a surrendered will, a desire to know God's will, and the glory of God in

Why Should Christians Pray?

1. Because Jesus set the example. Many times we find Jesus praying. Sometimes He prayed the
whole night through. In His prayers Jesus

 prayed for others including His enemies (Luke 23:34 cp. Matt. 5:44).

 prayed that His words and His works might glorify the Father.

 prayed for the will of God to be done.

2. Because there is a devil. The Bible speaks of him as a roaring lion seeking whom he may
devour (1 Pet. 5:8). There is only one way to overcome the devil. He is to be resisted in prayer
(James 4:7) in the name of Jesus. The song writer encourages us to,

Take the name of Jesus ever

As a shield from every snare;
If temptations round you gather,
Breathe that holy name in prayer.

3. Because prayer is God's way for us to obtain His blessing according to Matthew 7:7.

4. Because our souls grow when we pray. When children are small we love the cute little things
they do. But when the years pass and the body grows we expect signs of maturity. What a
tragedy it is when the body grows but there are no signs of maturity of the mind. Spiritually we
should grow in the spiritual grace of life.
How Should Christians Pray?

1.We should pray submissively. We do not tolerate the talk or whining of a disobedient child.
Neither does God. We can start obeying the Lord in the more simple things such as:

 reading the Bible

 not forsaking the assembly
 sharing our faith
 supporting the work of the ministry financially and verbally
 praying for others on a regular basis
 meditating on the Bible
 looking for ways to serve others
 acting in a loving manner
 seeking to conquer known sin.

2. We are to pray with thanksgiving. Dr. M.E. Dodd, pastor of First Baptist Church of Shreveport
gave his personal formula for prayer. First, he would shut his eyes, then he would try to think
about the kind of Father, God is. Soon, he would be counting the blessings of God for the
graciousness of the Lord would always be remembered. Soon he was in the right attitude to
pour his heart out.

3. We are to pray with expectations. Jesus said we could move mountains if we had enough faith.
We are to believe and we are to ask in faith. What was the last thing you asked God for
believing He would answer?

4. We are to pray in a spirit of perseverance. Paul said we are to pray without ceasing. Jacob did
not receive an answer in the first hour of his midnight struggle so he wrestled with God until the
breaking of the day (Gen. 32:26). Even Jesus did not receive an answer the first time He prayed
in Gethsemane. Three times He prayed in agony and heaviness and blood. The Bible tells us
that the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

Three Conditions Concerning Prayer

1. The one who prays must have a vital connection with God. God has not promised His power
and blessings to the sinner or to the man who has no connection with Him. The power of Elijah
on Mt. Carmel came because he was connected with God. Fire fell and people cried out, "The
Lord, He is God!" "The Lord, He is God!"

2. The channel of life must be pure. David said, "If I regard iniquity in my heart the Lord will
not hear me." David knew from personal experience this spiritual truth for David knew a season
of spiritual bareness. After his great sin with Bathsheba, David knew the fruitfulness of religion
without vital godliness. Then God granted repentance. We must go deep into our lives and
clean out all the sin, the malice, the hatred, the impurities. Only then can we have a clean heart.
3. Our prayers must be for God's glory. Sometimes we pray and we have our glory in view. We
are ashamed of looking badly in front of others. Preachers are ashamed of small crowds and so
they give out an "evangelist estimate." Spouses are ashamed of having an unsaved husband or
wife and so salvation is prayed for in order not to look bad. We do have to be careful of our
motives and yet after taking care of the conditions, we must be people of prayer.