Category Archives: The Power of Prayer

The Prayer of Jabez

Introduction

I’d like to thank Jesse Gardner for his series on holiness. It’s certainly a topic that deserves more attention and I appreciate his thoughtful approach to it.
Bruce Wilkinson wrote a popular book about The Prayer of Jabez. Some folks have used the pray like an incantation, but it does set forth a wonderful example of prayer, despite its being abused.

Bible Reading

1Ch 4:9-10 And Jabez was more honourable than his brethren: and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow. (10) 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.

Study

We don’t know much about Jabez – his name only appears three times in the Bible. But God did tell us a few important things about him.
First, notice that he had a rough start. Something in his mother’s life caused her to give him a name that means grief or sorrow. The Bible doesn’t tell us what her circumstances were, but they were the outstanding feature of Jabez’s entrance into the world. Thank God, you can finish better than you start. You’re not limited by your past. By faith, you can rise above your history.
Second, he was honorable. He was weighty, noble – more so than his brothers. When God says you are honorable, it’s usually because you live right. As we have seen, living right has an impact on getting your prayers answered.
Third, Jabez made his requests known to God. He had desires and he expressed them to God in prayer. This, as we have seen, is crucial to having your needs met.

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

Jam 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.

The things Jabez requested were the kinds of things God wants His children to have:

  • True blessings from God
  • Greater opportunity and responsibility
  • Deliverance from evil

These requests were according to God’s will, so God heard them and answered them.

1Jo 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.

What About You?

  • Does your character remove the roadblocks to answered prayer?
  • Do you make your requests know to God?
  • Are you asking according to the will of God?

Manasseh's Prayer of Repentance

Introduction

Manasseh’s prayer of repentance was a remarkable. So was God’s response.

Bible Reading

2Ch 33:9-13 So Manasseh made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err, and to do worse than the heathen, whom the LORD had destroyed before the children of Israel. (10) And the LORD spake to Manasseh, and to his people: but they would not hearken. (11) Wherefore the LORD brought upon them the captains of the host of the king of Assyria, which took Manasseh among the thorns, and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon. (12) And when he was in affliction, he besought the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, (13) And prayed unto him: and he was intreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD he was God.

Study

King Manasseh was a rat. He led God’s people into idol worship and sin. God, through His prophets, warned the king and his people to repent. Because they refused, God allowed the Assyrian armies to defeat the people of Judah and carry them off into captivity. The Jews suffered greatly for their wicked rebellion against God. Manasseh lost his freedom and his kingdom.
In the midst of his captivity and suffering, Manasseh sought the Lord. He humbled himself before God and prayed. God heard and answered Manasseh’s prayer . Manasseh was able to return to his homeland and reign as king once more. When you consider how wicked Manasseh was and how much harm he did to God’s people and God’s honor, it’s a miracle that God answered his prayer. This is an impressive example of the biblical principle:

Jam 4:8-10 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. (9) Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. (10) Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

What About You?

  • Have you rebelled against God?
  • Are you suffering because of your rebellion?
  • Will you humble yourself before God and sincerely repent so that God can restore you?

Nehemiah's Quick, Powerful Prayer

Introduction

Nehemiah provides Today’s example of power prayer. This is one of the shortest prayers mentioned in the Bible, but it resulted in an amazing and complete answer.

Bible Reading

Neh 2:1-4 And it came to pass in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that wine was before him: and I took up the wine, and gave it unto the king. Now I had not been beforetime sad in his presence. (2) Wherefore the king said unto me, Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? this is nothing else but sorrow of heart. Then I was very sore afraid, (3) And said unto the king, Let the king live for ever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ sepulchres, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire? (4) Then the king said unto me, For what dost thou make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven.

Study

Nehemiah was the cup bearer for King Artaxerxes. He had just gotten word that his beloved city, Jerusalem, laid in ruins. That’s why Nehemiah was sad. When the king saw his sad face, he asked what the problem was. On the spot, Nehemiah offered up a quick, silent pray to God, and then made his request known to the king. The king granted him everything he requested.

The key to getting quick, on-the-spot prayers answered is to have a prayer relationship with God. You see, Nehemiah’s brief prayer was the culmination of a lot of earlier prayer.

Neh 1:2-4 That Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and certain men of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. (3) And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire. (4) And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven,

Nehemiah’s success in public with the king was due to his private prayer life before God. Like Israel, he had power with men because he first had power with God. His Father, who heard his prayers in secret rewarded him openly.

What About You?

Do you have the consistent, deep prayer relationship with God in secret that allows you to pray quick, powerful prayers in public?

The Balance Between Prayer and Preparation

Introduction

In our last study, we looked Nehemiah’s quick prayer and God’s great answer. We’re going to look at another of Nehemiah’s prayer today see the balance between trusting God and doing our part.

Bible Reading

Neh 4:6-9 So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work. (7) But it came to pass, that when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and the Arabians, and the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites, heard that the walls of Jerusalem were made up, and that the breaches began to be stopped, then they were very wroth, (8) And conspired all of them together to come and to fight against Jerusalem, and to hinder it. (9) Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them.

Study

If you’ve read the Book of Nehemiah, you know he wa a man of prayer. Sometimes, though, men of pray are not practical. They pray when they should be acting. Prayer is, for them, a hiding place where they can retreat from the real responsibilities of life and still seem spiritual. Nehemiah did not suffer from this imbalance.
The Jews’ heathen neighbors saw the progress they were making and decided to stir up trouble. When danger threatened, Nehemiah and his people responded in three ways: they prayed, they watched and they kept on working. What a great balance. Trusting God, doing your part, and continuing to persue your God-ordained goal.
They didn’t try to make God responsible for their part and they didn’t try to do God’s part. The result of this balanced response was that the Jews were able to stay safe and complete the project God gave them.

What About You

  • Do you have a balance between, praying and working?
  • Do you trust God to do His part?
  • Do you do your part, or try to make God responsible for doing what he has told you to do?

Praying for Other Can Set You Free

Introduction

Today we’ll consider Job’s prayer for his friends at the end of his ordeal.

Bible Reading

Job 42:5-10 I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. (6) Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes. (7) And it was so, that after the LORD had spoken these words unto Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath. (8) Therefore take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job. (9) So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went, and did according as the LORD commanded them: the LORD also accepted Job. (10) And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.

Study

As Job’s fiery trial drew to an end, God asked him a series of questions. The point of the questions was to remind Job that God, and God alone, is the Creator and Director of His creation. He alone has the wisdom and power to do what is best. Job responded to God’s questions with self-loathing and repentance. This wasn’t the turning point in his story, though.
Next, God told Job’s friends that He was angry with them for misrepresenting Him. (Verse 7, by the way, is an important key to understanding the entire book of Job.) The Lord told Job’s friends to offer burnt offerings to Him in Job’s presence. After that, Job was to pray for them. The Bible doesn’t tell us what Job prayed, but it does tell us that the Lord accepted Job, that is, accepted his prayer for them.
Verse 10 adds an interesting note to the story. Job’s friends had accused him of pride and secret sins. They misrepresented God to Job in his darkest hour. The turning point in Job’s trial came when he prayed for these friends who let him down. “And the LORD tuned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends…” That was the turning point – when he made intercession for his accusers.
Jesus told his disciples to pray for their enemies and treat them well:
Mat 5:44-45 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; (45) That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
Could it be that praying for our enemies and accusers will be the turning point in our personal trials? In that moment, we act like children of our Father. Remember, too, that Jesus didn’t just teach us to do this, He did it under the most difficult circumstances imaginable:

Luk 23:33-34 And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. (34) Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.

What About You?

  • Are you going through a trial right now?
  • Have you been praying sincerely for your accusers and enemies?
  • Is it possible that your prayer for them could be the turning point in your trials?

David Prays for His Enemies

Introduction

We saw yesterday that when Job prayed for his friends, who were miserable comforters, God relieved his suffering. We’re simple going to reinforce that idea with an example from the Psalms.

Bible Reading

Psa 35:11-14 False witnesses did rise up; they laid to my charge things that I knew not. (12) They rewarded me evil for good to the spoiling of my soul. (13) But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth: I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into mine own bosom. (14) I behaved myself as though he had been my friend or brother: I bowed down heavily, as one that mourneth for his mother.

Study

Many people disappointed and mistreated David. They lied about him, and turned him in after he helped them. David hadn’t done anything to deserve this kind of treatment. They rewarded him evil for good. He described the effect of their mistreatment as “spoiling his soil.” They took something from him – they robbed his soul. That would have been enough of excuse to get bitter. Instead, David mourned and prayed for his enemies as though they were a friend or a brother. This showed extraordaniry character on David’s part.

We don’t know how David’s prayer effected his enemies, but he says that it returned to his own bosom. That is, David’s prayer for his enemies ended up blessing him. As we saw yesterday, God often works way – He blesses us for doing right, even when the right doesn’t change the people around us. Stephen’s prayer for his executioners is an example of this attitude:

Act 7:54-60 When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. (55) But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, (56) And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. (57) Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, (58) And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. (59) And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. (60) And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

This was a heart attitude God could bless in a special way. God gave Stephen an extraordinary vision of Jesus Christ standing on the right hand of God. (The Bible usually speaks of Jesus being seated at the right hand of the Father. Many scholars think the position of Christ is a token of respect for Stephen.) No long after that, Stephen’s vision was realized, as he was “absent from the bodhy and present with the Lord.”

What About You?

  • Are you willing to pray for your enemies in the knowledge that God blesses those who do right?
  • Do you believe that God could give you a clearer vision of Himself as you pray in obedience and faith?

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David's Prayer of Repentance

Introduction>

You probably know that David fell into terrible sin. He committed adultery with Bathsheba and arranged the murder of her husband, Uriah. Today, we’re going to consider David’s prayer of repentance.

Bible Reading

Psa 51:1-4 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 throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. (3) For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. (4) Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.

Study

David held on to his sin for a long time. If you read the account carefully, you’ll see it was close to a year before he repented. When the prophet Nathan confronted him about his sin, David repented. He expressed his repentance in the song that we know as Psalm 51. Today’s Bible reading contains a portion of that Psalm. I don’t have time to go into the depth I’d like to on this Psalm, but here are a few highlights.
David sought God’s mercy. He didn’t make any excuses for his sin. He didn’t try to use past good behavior to offset his present wrong doing. He didn’t appeal to anything in his own character. Instead, he threw himself on the mercy of God. He trusted in God’s lovingkindness.
David specifically asked for cleansing from his sin. Later, God promised to forgive and cleanse those who confess their sins:

1Jo 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 acknowledged his sin. David didn’t call it a slip, or an indiscretion. He didn’t deny, minimize, make excuses for his sin. He simply admitted it to God. I think the point of his statement that his sin was ever before him is an even deeper admission. “I knew this was wrong, and it was always on my mind, but I didn’t repent,” is his point, I think. Not only was he wrong to sin, but he was wrong to resist his conscience and conviction and refuse to repent.
David confessed that his sin was, first and most, against God. Yes, he sinned against others. Yes, his conduct was a blot on his nation because it was his leader. But, ultimately, his sin was against God, Himself.

What About You?

  • Have you been under conviction because of some sin you haven’t repented of?
  • Are you resisting the conviction of your conscience and the Holy Spirit?
  • Have you denied, minimized, or made excuses for your sin?

David's Prayer of Repentance (2)

IntroductionBible Study

Psa 51:8-14 Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. (9) Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. (10) Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. (11) Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. (12) Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. (13) Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee. (14) Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.

Study

David recognized that his sin had an impact beyond the need for forgiveness. That was a vital starting place, but it wasn’t the end. David knew he needed to get his joy back if he was to get back on his feet. He knew what Nehemiah would put into words:

Neh 8:10 Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.

David wanted to clean from his sin – to have a right spirit again. This was something he lost when he sinned and refused to repent. Now that he was right with God, he wanted to experience that cleanness and know what it was to be right with God again. No longer hiding from Him. No longer alienated from the Lord.
David also wanted a renewed relationship with the Lord – closeness. He wanted the walk he once had with the Lord. He longed for, and asked for, God to uphold him as He had done in the past.
David also understood his obligation to teach others what he learned from his sin, repentance and restoration. That’s part of the reason for this Psalm – so that we would benefit from his experience. Now that he was right with God, he wanted to help others recover, too.

What About You?

  • If you have recently repented from some sin, have you sought more than just forgiveness? Have you asked God to restore your joy and your walk with Him so you’ll have the strength to keep on living right?
  • Are you trying to help others get right with God by sharing with them your personal testimony of sin, repentance and restoration?

Seeing Yourself Through God's Eyes

Introduction

Today, we’re going to look at David’s prayer to see himself through God’s eyes.

Bible Reading

Psa 139:23-24 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: (24) And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Study

David’s brief prayer was potent and probing. He asked God to search him, to try him, to know his thoughts. David willingly opened himself up to God’s scrutiny. Now, David knew that God already knew him thoroughly. He said:

Psa 139:1-6 O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. (2) Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. (3) Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. (4) For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether. (5) Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. (6) Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.

David was deeply impressed with the fullness of God’s knowledge of him. God knew his physical activities. God knew David’s words before he spoke them and his thoughts as they bounced around inside his head. The Lord was acquainted with ALL his ways.
It was not enough for him, though, that God knew David well. David wanted God to share His knowledge with him. He wanted to see himself through God’s eyes. Praying this way takes enormous courage. (The trouble isn’t in saying it, it’s it meaning it – really wanting to know the truth about yourself.)
Even self-awareness wasn’t David’s goal. He wanted to know himself better so that he could see the problems and have God help him change. That’s the rub, isn’t it? We don’t want to change – not in real ways, not in deep ways. We content ourselves with piddling progress. We’re rearranging furniture while the house burns down around us.
You know God is willing to answer this kind of prayer for the person who prays it and means it. God longs to impart this knowledge to you, and to help you change. He knows, though, that you probably won’t act on it, that you’re not ready to hear the truth, until you ask.

What About You?

  • Do you want to know the truth about yourself?
  • Have you asked God to show you?
  • Are you willing to change if God points out problems in your life?

Examples of Powerful Prayer

Introduction

Today, we’re going to consider Daniel’s in defiance of Darius’ decree.

Bible Reading

Dan 6:9-13 Wherefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree. (10) Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime. (11) Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God. (12) Then they came near, and spake before the king concerning the king’s decree; Hast thou not signed a decree, that every man that shall ask a petition of any God or man within thirty days, save of thee, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions? The king answered and said, The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not. (13) Then answered they and said before the king, That Daniel, which is of the children of the captivity of Judah, regardeth not thee, O king, nor the decree that thou hast signed, but maketh his petition three times a day.

Study

Daniel was a powerful man in Babylon and he had enemies. Those men, who were jealous of his position, couldn’t find any skeletons in his closet – nothing to hold against him. So they flattered the king and convinced him to write a decree prohibiting any of his citizens from praying to any god but him.
Daniel had a decision to make. Would he keep on praying, or stop because of the new law? Daniel kept on doing what he had been doing all along: he prayed 3 times a day.
Many believes would get outraged if the government outlawed prayer. We’d probably organize a pray in on the capitol steps. The point here, though, is that Daniel didn’t have to change his behavior to protest the law. His prayer wasn’t a protest, but a continuation of his way of life. Frankly, the government doesn’t need to outlaw prayer. Most Christians don’t pray consistently like Daniel did anyway.

What About You?

If the government outlawed prayer, would you have to start praying regularly to protest, or would you just keep doing what you had been doing?