Romans 15:30 Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me;
I have heard it said that the church on its knees is a powerful thing. There is no doubt that when God’s people decide to be a praying people then the world gets to see salt and light in ways never imagined. However, it is much deeper than we perceive it to be. God’s people must strive together in prayer. When we think of unity we often think of a church that votes in business meetings at a high percentage. We think of a church that is not arguing or divisive. We think of a church that is not run by families, money, or social status. I will say that those things have a huge impact on a church’s unity. I also will say that nothing will unite a church more than a church that strives together in prayer.
Scripture teaches us that praying together requires us to touch the same thing. Touching the same thing requires more than just praying about the same thing. It requires getting under the same burden together. When a person asks you to pray for something do we pray for that situation because the other person is burdened or do we pray for that situation because we have become burdened with that person. There is a difference between praying for a person’s burden and praying under the same burden as another. I am afraid that even when we are praying for one another we are very rarely touching the same thing. We are rarely striving together in prayer.
The ultimate display in unity is when God’s people strive together in prayer. It is not that we are just striving together in service, but that we are striving together in prayer. Maybe our lack of unity in prayer is what is causing such a display of powerlessness in our country right now. This is definitely something we need to consider and change if we want to see revival in these last days.
Luke 22:44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
I read this one verse and find myself under conviction. When Jesus was in agony He prayed more earnestly. How would we normally handle agony? Is the agony of life and even God’s will for our life propelling us to prayer? Sometimes even accepting the perfect will of God can be agonizing. The fellowship with suffering is not necessarily something any of us enjoy. However, the key to dealing with agony is to pray “more earnestly.” The phrase “more earnestly” means more intently. The greater the agony the more intentional the prayer became. The greater the agony the more intense the prayer became. The intensity of Jesus’ prayer was so great that it caused him to pour sweat.
Has there ever been a time where we prayed with such intensity that it caused us to sweat. Prayer must be both intentional as well as intense. Most of the time our prayer life is very vague but sadly has little intensity. We talk but do we agonize. There is something to be said about the person who is willing to travail in prayer. The intensity of our prayer life will reveal our desire for the Lord. It is time we get intentional about prayer and raise our level of intensity. The world depends upon the Christian who is willing to agonize through prayer.
Ephesians 2:18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
It is through Jesus Christ that we have access to the Father. It is by the Spirit that we are ushered into His presence. Have you ever heard of a Spirit filled life? Being filled with the Holy Spirit is not a matter of obtaining more of God but rather God obtaining more of us. It is a matter of emptying ourselves of who we are, what we are, and what we even want. It is a complete death to self. It is allowing the Holy Spirit complete control. To be totally under His influence we are to pray in the same manner that we are to live. We are to allow our prayer life to be totally under the influence of the Holy Spirit.
There are a lot of false ideas about what it looks like to pray “in the Spirit.” People have all these far fetched ideas about what that looks like to pray spirit filled prayers. The only thing I am going to say about this is that we need not place stipulations on how the Spirit of God is to operate. The Bible says that the Spirit will go where it listeth. The Spirit of God will operate according to its own Word. However, we need not place boundaries on the Spirit of God. The main point of this is for us to understand that we need to empty our prayer life of self and allow the Spirit of God to influence our prayer life. We have to ask ourselves whether or not our prayer lives are influenced by self or led by the Spirit. Do we allow God’s Spirit to control our prayer life in the same manner we allow His Spirit to control our lives? Maybe the problem is that He has little influence over our lives, so therefore He has no influence over our prayer lives.
We mention Jesus in our prayers. We mention our Father in our prayers. Do we even acknowledge the Holy Spirit in our prayers?
Hebrews 10:19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,
Acts 12:5 Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.
The key to prayer is to make sure we pray “unto God”. I have heard many say that they feel as though their prayers are just going out into thin air. Well, there is a possibility that our prayer may be going into thin air. There has been much discussion over the years regarding the subject of prayer. There has been discussion regarding the types of prayers we pray, the strategies utilized in prayer, and certain models of prayer that should be implemented. While I do not devalue any of these, I am afraid that through all this we have put emphasis on the prayer itself rather than the Lord. We must realize that our prayer must not be an assembly of fancy words and routine chants. It actually requires time, effort, and a certain place.
God gives us access to the throne through the blood of Jesus. Think about entering into the “holiest.” Compare this to entering into a home. It requires being intentional. It requires wanting to enter. It not some thought but it is actually, physically entering into a room. Well, prayer is physically and spiritually entering into God’s room. The access comes through the blood of Jesus. The process is prayer. The person is God. Make sure when we pray, we pray unto God.
When does God answer our prayer? Much of the time we pray powerless prayers because we are not praying according the scriptures. Scriptural teaching on prayer will change the practice of prayer as well as the results of our prayer life. Most of the time we are so worried about the prayer itself that we forget the God to whom we should be praying toward. Please take time this week and assess whether we are praying according to scripture.
Philippians 4:6-8 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things arejust, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
Anxiety has always been the enemy of peace. Just like fear is to our faith, so is anxiety to peace. If we want the peace of God to rule our hearts and minds then we must be willing to apply prayer, supplication, and thanksgiving. We also must be willing and able to think on the right things. If we are not praying right, thinking right, and living right then our peace will become nonexistent. When one of these three areas of our life becomes weakened then our peace is hindered.
Praying Right – It is not about a process or system but rather a state of mind and actual practice. Prayer that is practiced with the right attitude will cause anxiety to creep into every other aspect of our life. It goes back to the old cliche, “why worry when you can pray?”
Thinking Right – Our mind has a huge impact on how we live. Most of the time we create within our minds the most horrendous of scenarios. When we fail to think upon the things that have virtue and praise then our peace is hindered.
Living Right – One of the greatest hindrances to peace is sin. When we allow sin to dominate or control our lives then peace will no longer be available. Sin will rob each of us from peace. Therefore, it is necessary to keep short accounts with God and make sure we are living right in the sight of God.
It is completely up to us whether or not we apply these principles. If we want the peace of God to rule and govern our hearts and minds then we must be willing to pray, think, and live according to the standard of God’s Word.
2 Peter 1:5-8 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
While examining each of these virtues you will notice that faith is the launching pad by which everything else is built upon. If there is no faith then there is no knowledge, temperance, patience godliness, kindness and charity. Faith puts all these other virtues into action. I really want to highlight the connection between faith, patience, and prayer.
Faith produces patience. Patience is a valuable part of our prayer life. Patience teaches us how to wait. If we are truly believing God and trusting God for the impossible then we will also be patient enough to wait on God. We all have to remember that God does not operate on an immediate basis, God operates on His own time table. Sometimes we have to wait. The stronger our faith becomes, and the more dependence we place upon the Lord the easier it becomes to wait when requests, desires, and dreams are not experienced. Sometimes waiting is hard, but that is when we have to continue to use faith to pray on through the waiting process.
One of the ways we can tell we lack patience is when we bypass prayer and start trying to figure things out on our own. I have watched Christians all over our country lose their patience and start taking matters into their own hands, using harsh words, protests, and other sources of humanistic means to try to change a culture. I truly believe that a lack of patience is a result of a weakening faith. We must learn that our greatest stand takes place when we kneel. It is up to us to be able to wait upon the Lord. That takes faith. Faith gives us patience. Faith and patience help us prevail in prayer.
John 14:12-14 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. 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.
Faith is such a vital component of the Christian life. It is definitely the foundation of everything we do as believers. When we come to the Lord we must believe. When we pray we must believe. When we are serving we must believe. Faith places us in a position for the impossible to be experienced. God puts it like this: Faith gives us the ability to see greater works than those performed by Jesus. You and I have to understand it is not us, but our dependence and total commitment to God through prayer that allows this to happen.
We want to think that our faith alone does this. I would argue that it is our faith in God that does this. We have to direct our faith onto the Lord. Honestly, it is never us doing anything. It is God operating through us that does everything. This is where we have to understand the value of prayer coupled with faith. Greater works does not just occur because we have faith. Greater works are experienced because we are coupling our faith with prayer and faith in God.
Jesus told his disciples that he would do it. “If you will ask anything in my name, I will do it.” I think it is important to remember this statement is not Jesus writing a blank check and signing his name to it. It is a matter of trusting the Lord to operate through you in all circumstances. It is operating in a realm of faith that few ever enjoy. Do you ever wonder why we do not see “greater works” within our lives? First, we do not believe. Second, we do not pray. I would add that if we do not believe it then we are not going to pray it.
May we learn to believe on Jesus Christ. Please understand that we cannot place our confidence in the prayer itself, but in the Lord we are praying toward.
Mark 11:24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.
The four words highlighted in this text should be an encouragement to us. There are many that read this verse with doubt already forming in the heart because they simply do not believe. What is the point of asking for something if you do not believe you will receive it? Maybe that is the reason we do not ask for certain things because we have no confidence the Lord will give us what we desire. It is possible to lose confidence in what you pray about because it has not happened or been received. It is also possible to be so discouraged and defeated that you lose confidence in the ability of your own prayer life. I encourage you to stop for a moment and go back and read over the verse multiple times. Sometimes we just need to be reminded how important faith is toward our prayer life.
Faith fuels prayer, and prayer fuels faith. There is no reason to even ask if we are not going to believe. If we are honest we often pray about certain things, and then some where down deep we say, “God’s not going to do that.” I truly believe this comes from us depending upon ourselves rather than depending upon the Lord. We have small amounts of confidence in God and His interest toward us. The Lord wants to hear from us. He wants to hear our desires, dreams, and needs. When we come to Him we must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those that diligently seek Him. When we pray it is essential that we believe God is going to do it. If we are going to see prayer work, then we must start believing God is going to do it.
We need to start somewhere. We need to start addressing our unbelief toward the Lord. Maybe our first prayer needs to be “I believe Lord, help me in my unbelief”. (Mark 9:23-24)
I have to say that I have been convicted lately over how small and powerless my prayers have become. I have gotten so caught up in the everyday activity of the world that I have forgot to expand my faith by asking God for the hardest of things. When was the last time you prayed for a hard things without a shred of doubt in your heart. Have you brought your petition before the Lord and then walked away doubting that God even heard you? It is time to start having faith in God rather than man, money, and monetary possessions. We have to learn to trust God and believe God can and will do great things. I truly think our problems lies in the reality that we believe truly can do great things, we just do not think he will do great things. It is my hope and prayer that believers following this blog site will utilize this week’s material to turn away from unbelief and start putting their faith in God.