Category Archives: The Power of Prayer

Series Introduction

Introduction

Welcome to the new series The Power of Prayer. In the coming weeks, we’re going to look at the wonderful power God has offered us to change circumstances and lives through His power. We’ll consider the reality of prayer, its opportunities and challenges.

Bible Reading

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. (Jam 4:2)

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? (Mat 7:7-11)

Prayer Makes a Difference

Will the Sovereign God of the Universe change His what He does in response to prayer? Some folks don’t think so. For them, prayer is like meditation – it may change your attitude, or make you feel better, but it doesn’t change anything in the outside world.

“Ye have not because ye ask not,” James said. Think about that for a minute. There are some things you need that you don’t have. God wants to meet your needs, so why do still lack? It may be because you haven’t asked. There are things that God is wiling to do, but that He won’t do unless and until you ask. So the Sovereign God has decreed that you can influence what He does through prayer.

Ask, and It Shall Be Given

On the other hand, if you do ask, you can receive. God is a Good Father Who delights to meet the needs of His believing children when they ask for His help. But Matthew makes the same point James did, that God gives “good things to them that ask Him.”

What About You?

  • Are you doing without because you fail to pray?
  • When you do pray, do you get what you ask for? Do you expect to?

The Model Prayer (1)

Introduction

We will begin our study of prayer by looking at the Model Prayer Christ gave us. You’ll be reading this prayer, sometimes known as the Lord’s Prayer, each day during this part of the study. We’ll also take a look at other Scriptures that relate to each portion of the prayer.

Bible Reading

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 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. (Mat 6:9-13)

A Pattern, not a Prayer

Jesus said to pray after this manner. This isn’t really a prayer, it’s a pattern for prayer. The Model Prayer is an overview of prayer, to which we add specifics each time we pray. The context makes it obvious that Christ does not want us to repeat the prayer word for word, over and over again

But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. (Mat 6:7-8)

Our Father

The Model Prayer contains three surprises in the first two words. In the Greek, Father come first, before our. The first thing that grabs our attention is that prayer begins with who God is. It’s not your concerns, but God’s character that matters most in prayer. The greatness of your need and the depth of your sincerety mean nothing if you aren’t praying to the One True God.

Next, notice that we pray to our Father. Of all the titles Christ could have used to refer to God, He chose Father. He is Jehoval, the Almighty, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Creator, the Judge of All the Earth, but we pray to our Father. What a tremendous comfort it is that we have a Father like that who wants to help us.

Finally, notice that we pray to our Father. All the personal pronouns in the Model Prayer are plural: our and us. You might say the Model Prayer is blind because it has no I’s. When we pray, we are not just to be thinking about ourselves, but others.

What About You?

  • Do you begin your prayer time by focusing on God or your problems?
  • Do you pray knowing that you are asking help from your Father Who loves you?
  • Are your prayers mainly about you and your needs, or do you ask God to meet the needs of others?

The Model Prayer (2)

Introduction

As we saw yesterday, prayer begins with Who God is. The first phase of the Model Prayer calls us to worship God for His unique character.

Bible Reading

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 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. (Mat 6:9-13)

O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens. (Psa 8:1)

I will praise thee, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works. I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High. (Psa 9:1-2)

I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify thy name for evermore. For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell. (Psa 86:12-13)

Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. (Psa 100:3-4)

Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake. Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is now their God? But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased. (Psa 115:1-3)

I will extol thee, my God, O king; and I will bless thy name for ever and ever. Every day will I bless thee; and I will praise thy name for ever and ever. Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable. (Psa 145:1-3)

Hallowed Be Thy Name

Prayer begins when we worship and praise God for His unique character. There is none one else like Him. He is our Father in Heaven. The opening phrase of this prayer strikes a perfect balance. He is high and exaulted – far above mankind. We approach God as a Loving Father, and as the High and Holy God in Heaven.

When we hallow His name, we worship Him for being the Person He is. As you probably noticed in the Scripture passages from the Psalms the God’s greatness should inspire worship.

  • His name is excellent.
  • We should praise Him with our whole heart.
  • We should glorify Him for His mercy and deliverance.
  • We should honor Him because He is our Creator.
  • We enter His courts with praise.
  • He deserves to be glorified, not us.
  • We should bless Him every day.
  • He is great and deserves to be greatly praised.
  • We will never run out of reasons to glorify Him since His greatness is unsearchable.

What About You?

  • Do you worship God for His great character?
  • Do you do it regularly and consistently?

The Model Prayer (3)

Introduction

After worshipping God for His unique character, we should continue our prayer journey by submitting ourselves to Him.

Bible Reading

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 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. (Mat 6:9-13)

Thy Kingdom Come

In the next phase of the of the Model Prayer, Jesus taught us to submit to God’s will. When we pray for God’s kingdom to come, we are asking Him to establish His reign. Jesus taught that the God’s kingdom is within:

And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. (Luk 17:20-21)

This prayer asks God to be King. You’re asking that His will would be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. If you’re going to pray that way, does’t it make sense that you should submit to your King and do His will personally?

When I pray according to the Model Prayer, I’ll ask for things like this:

  • “Father, be my King today. Rule in my life.”
  • “Father, help me to do your will today as gladly and thoroughly as it is done in Heaven.”
  • “Father, be the Lord of my family, my workplace, my church and my nation.

I think there are at least two important connections between submission and getting your prayers answered. First, we’ve got to acknowledge that, ultimately, God knows best. God will often give us the things we seek, but we’ve also have to realize that God, in His love and wisdom may need to say no, or wait, in response to some of our prayers. We need to be OK with that.

And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. (Luk 22:41-42)

The second connection has to do with giving to God what we hope to receive from God. Whenyou pray, what you’re really doing is asking God to hear your words and obey them. If you want God to keep your words, you need to keep His Word:

He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination. (Pro 28:9)

God says that the prayers of those who refuse to hear His law are an abmoniation to Him. If you will not hear and heed His Word, don’t expect Him to listen to what you have to say.

What About You?

  • Do you regularly submit yourself to God in prayer?
  • Do you respond to God’s Word the way you want Him to respond to your prayers?

The Model Prayer (4)

Introduction

We continue our study of the Model Prayer with a look at the request for daily bread.

Bible Reading

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 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. (Mat 6:9-13)

Our Daily Bread

In the Bible, bread stands for life’s basic needs – what it takes to survive. (As we’ll see later in our study, God is willing to do much more than give you the bare minimum it takes to survive.) When you ask God for bread, you’re asking Him to meet the needs in your life and the lives of others. The need may be physical, or spiritual.

But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. (Mat 4:4)

Notice that we pray for our daily bread. The Model Prayer encourages us to pray for the needs of others, too. We may not have the resouces to help them, but God does. They may be far away, but God can still get to them.

God wants us to ask Him for daily bread – to meet today’s needs. It dawned on me one day that much of the lack, and the debt, in my life might be a direct result of failing to ask God to meet my needs each day.

God wants us to ask Him for what we need when we need it. He wants us to be specific in our prayers. Jesus told a story to teach us how to pray. In that story, a man goes to his friend’s home to ask for bread. Notice how the man asks:

And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? (Luk 11:5-6)

The needy man in Christ’s parable didn’t ask, “Friend, do you have anything to eat?” No, he asked for precisely what he needed. You might say, “God knows better than I do what I need,” and that’s true, but God often puts the responsibility for asking wisely into our hands. Here are a few examples:

In that night did God appear unto Solomon, and said unto him, Ask what I shall give thee. (2Ch 1:7)

And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight. (Mar 10:51)

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

We’ve already talked about the need to submit ourselves to God’s will. In effect, God is saying, “Ask me for what you want until I tell you what I want.” Paul did this when he asked God to deliver him from his thorn in the flesh (2Co 12:7-9)

One advantage of praying specifically is that we know when God says yes. We can testify about it, and thank Him for it. Some folks pray so vaguely that it’s hard for them to know if they have been heard or not. Joy is one result of praying specifically:

Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. (Joh 16:24)

What About You?

  • Do you pray specifically for what you need each day?
  • Do you pray specifically for the needs of others daily?

The Model Prayer (5)

Introduction

The next section of the Model Prayer deals with the difficult subject of forgiveness.

Bible Reading

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 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. (Mat 6:9-13)

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
(1Jo 1:8-9)

Forgive Us Our Debts

Our debts are the sins we commit against God and against each other. When you sin, you owe someone something you have not given them, or you take from them something you need to give back. When you slander someone, for example, you take away their good name. When you neglect God’s Word, you deprive Him of the opportunity to speak to you.

The Model Prayer is a daily prayer. (Remember daily bread?) Each day we pray according to this pattern, we are to settle our outstanding sin debts. We are to keep short accounts with God and man.

It’s interesting that the issue of sin isn’t addressed until this point in the prayer. Normally, you’d expect to deal with sin first. I think addressing our sins at this point in the prayer makes them much more obvious. Think about it: you’ve praised God for His perfect character, submitted yourself to Him and acknowledged Him as your Provider. In light of those actions, you then evaluate your conduct. The closer you draw to the light, the easier it is to see your uncleanness.

When we sin against God, we need to confess our sin to Him. When we do, He has promised to forgive our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Even when we sin against others, we still need to confess our sin to God. Ultimately, all sin is against God (Psa 51:4). We also need to confess that sin to the ones we have wronged and seek their forgiveness (Mat 5:23-24).

Let me go off on a little rant here for a minute. There’s a popular idea I’ve heard that says we should forgive people unilaterally – whether they want our forgiveness or not. That’s an unscriptural idea. We are to forgive others in the same way God forgives us. He forgives our sins the minute we confess them to Him, but not before. He is willing before, but doesn’t extend forgiveness to us until we meet the condition of admitting we have sinned. In the same way, we should have forgiveness waiting for the offender, but it is not extended to them until they confess their sin. Often, this one-sided forgiveness is just a spiritual mask for being too cowardly to confront the wrongdoer biblically. When we fail to do that, they continue in their sin, and in their alienation from God.

Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. (Luk 17:3)

Notice, finally, that we ask God to extend forgiveness to us in the same measure that we have offered it to those who sin against us. The law of sowing and reaping pops up again. “Forgive me, Father, in the same way I have forgiven those who have wronged me,” should be our prayer.

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. (Eph 4:32)

What About You?

  • Do you have any outstanding sins you haven’t confessed to God?
  • Do you have any outstanding sins you haven’t confessed to man?
  • Have you forgiven everyone who has sought your forgiveness?

The Model Prayer (6)

Introduction

The Model Prayer continues with a request to avoid temptation.

Bible Reading

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 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. (Mat 6:9-13)

Lead Us Not Into Temptation

The Bible tells us that the Spirit led Christ into the wilderness to be tempted of the Devil. This is one aspect of Christ’s earthly ministry that we are not supposed to immitate. We’re specifically commanded not to seek temptation. Rather, we’re to ask God not to lead us into temptation.

Jesus told his disciples, “Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation.” Those who failed to heed His warning fell into temptation. I couldn’t help but wonder as I typed those words how many times I’ve fallen into temptation because I didn’t pray the way Jesus told us to pray.

If you’re going to ask God to deliver you from temptation, doesn’t it make sense to cooperate with your own prayer. Don’t knowingly, willingly put yourself in the place of temptation. Avoid it. Make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.

The Marine Corps taught us to set up intersecting lines of fire. When a squad defended a position, each Marine was responsible for the area directly in front of him and half of the area on either side of him. That way, each of us bore our own burden and the burden’s of the people around us. If someone else was attacked, they weren’t in it alone.

The Marine Corps taught us to set up intersecting lines of fire. When a squad defended a position, each Marine was responsible for the area directly in front of him and half of the area on either side of him. That way, each of us bore our own burden and the burden’s of the people around us. If someone else was attacked, they weren’t in it alone.

That same principle applies to the Model Prayer. We’re not just to pray for deliverance from our personal temptations – we’re to pray for each other to be delivered from temptation. I wondered as I was preparing this how many of my friends have stumbled because I didn’t have their back in prayer.

What About You?

  • Do you pray daily that God will not lead you into temptation?
  • Are you doing your part to avoid temptation?
  • Do you pray daily for other Christians you know that God will not lead them into temptation?

The Model Prayer (7)

Introduction

The portion of the Model Prayer we’re going to look at today is a plea to avoid evil.

Bible Reading

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 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. (Mat 6:9-13)

And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested. (1Ch 4:10)

Deliver Us From Evil

In yesterday’s study, we saw that we are to ask God not to lead us into temptation. In essence, we’re asking God to keep us from doing evil. Here, we’re asking God to keep us from experiencing evil – to keep evil from being done to us.

The word translated evil is a general word that’s translated in several ways. The word can mean calamity or misfortune. This is the most benign meaning of the word. You get laid off from work, your car breaks down – these are examples of troubles that may come your way without you being targeted by your enemies.

The word may refer to mistreatment by people with evil intentions. They want to harm you. They knowingly treat you badly. It can also refer to attacks by Satan, the enemy of your soul, and his helpers.

Regardless of the source of trouble, this prayer asks God to protect you from it. Jabez asked God to keep him from evil, that it would not grieve him, and God granted his request. Jabez isn’t the only person God will do this for. You have not because you ask not (James 4:2).

Remember, we’re not just supposed to pray for ourselves. You have friends and loved ones with problems and struggles. Have you asked God to protect them? I was at a Revival Fires conference recently and heard Dr. Dennis Corle preach a great message on prayer. He used these two verses as his text:

But withal prepare me also a lodging: for I trust that through your prayers I shall be given unto you. (Phm 1:22)

Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint. (Pro 25:19)

He asked two penetrating question in his message:

  • Who is trusting to be delivered from this trouble through your prayers?
  • Are they having confidence in an unfaithful man in a time of trouble?

You ought to listen Dr. Corle’s sermon, Through Your Prayers.

What About You?

  • Do you ask God to deliver you from evil each day?
  • Do you ask God to deliver other you care about from evil each day?
  • How much needless suffering have you and your loved ones endured because you haven’t asked God to protect you?

The Model Prayer (8)

Introduction

In a sense, the Model Prayer ends up back where it began – with the Person of God. It also shows us what our highest motives for prayer should be.

Bible Reading

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 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. (Mat 6:9-13)

Study

We started this prayer by acknowledging God’s unique character and greatness. We finish our requests by acknowledging God, too. The prayer ends with three phrases.

Thine is the kingdom acknowledges God as King. I think this has at least two implications. First, it restates our commitment to submit to God’s authority. We recognize that God is King and, when we do, we’re allowing Him to be do what He thinks is best in response to our prayers. Second, we’re saying that we believe God is King – that He rules.

This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men. (Dan 4:17)

Thine is the power acknowledges God’s ability to meet our needs. We ask Him for help because He has the power to do everything we ask and more:

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. (Eph 3:20-21)

Thine is the glory acknowledges that the central goal of our prayers should always be to honor God.

What About You?

  • Do you acknowledge God as King in your prayers?
  • Do you know that He has the power to meet your needs and the needs of those you care for?
  • Do you pray for things that you believe will glorify God?

Failing to Ask and Asking Amiss

Introduction

We said in the first lesson in this series that prayer is meant to be answered. We’re going to take a look at why God sometimes denies our requests.

Bible Reading

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. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. (Jam 4:2-3)

Ye Ask Not

Before we address the reasons God denies our prayers, let’s talk about the biggest cause of our unmet needs. The main reason we don’t have what we need is that we fail to ask. God has established prayer as one of the central ways He meets our needs. If you don’t pray, you end up doing without. My realization of that fact has grown since I started writing this series. We’ll look at why we neglect pray another day, but I thought I should at least mention it here.

Ye Ask Amiss

When we do ask, we don’t receive because we ask amiss. This word is sometimes translated evil or sick. Generally, it means bad, bad, physically or bad, morally. In context, the badness here is selfishness, that we may consume it upon our lusts. When we ask God to do things for us that will not honor Him or promote the welfare of others, we are asking amiss. Remember from our last lesson on the Model Prayer that the glory of God should always be one of our main goals in prayer.

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. (1Co 10:31)

What About You?

  • Do you fail to receive because you fail to pray?
  • Do you pray ineffectively because you are praying selfishly?