The Mighty Power of Prayer

Bible Book: 1 John  5 : 14-15
Subject: Prayer
Series: God's Dear Children

The Mighty Power of Prayer

Dr. J. Mike Minnix, Editor, www.pastorlife.com
Introduction

1 John 5:14-15:  "Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him."

Today we are examining a single verse from 1 John, chapter 5, that is loaded with meaning and calls for action on the part of God's people regarding prayer. Remember that 1 John was written by the Apostle John, who was very familiar with prayer from two perspectives.

  • First, he was very acquainted with the prayer life of Jesus.

John was one of the three disciples in the inner circle of Christ and thus he saw Jesus as He prayed in private and in public. When we look at Christ in great detail, we see that His life was a life of prayer. John observed that firsthand as a disciple of our Lord. Jesus chose twelve disciples, but read the story more closely and you will see that He had spent all night in prayer before He chose them. In other words, what Jesus taught us about prayer, He practiced - John saw Jesus praying, heard Jesus praying and was taught by Jesus to pray.

John was with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration when Jesus was transfigured in glorious light before him, along with Peter, James. The Bible says Christ rose before the light of day, while the disciples were sleeping, and went to pray as was his custom. That means that it was a way of life for Jesus to skip sleep in order to pray more fervently and frequently. Even when Jesus was on the cross, He was praying. So, when John speaks on this subject, he knows that about which he speaks.

You and I can never be what the Lord desires us to be unless we are people of prayer. That brings me to the second aspect of John’s prayer life.

  • John had a personal, powerful life of prayer.

John knew that prayer was vital for the Christian to overcome the world, to live in assurance, and for the believer to fulfill the purposes of God in this life. I have little doubt that the greatest need of the modern Christian is the faithful practice of prayer. I did not say that the modern believer needs to know more about prayer. The disciples did not say to Christ, “Teach us ABOUT prayer,” rather they said, “Teach us TO PRAY.” We don’t need to know more about prayer, we simply need to pray.

In the ligth of the days in which we are living - with Covid ravaging the lives of so many famillies - we need to pray. With our world in such a desperate state, we need to pray. With the gospel and the Bible under attack, we need to pray. With so many people in need of power to find purpose, to overcome drugs, to escape pornography, to save marriages and to find peace, we simply must PRAY!

So I want to bring a message today that I trust will prompt us to pray. John addresses the subject of our confidence in prayer. There are three points that he makes in the two verses under consideration.

First, observe ...

I. Our Confidence in Appearing before God in Prayer

We need to understand what the word confidence means. The word confidence comes from the Greek word parrhesia (par-rhay-see'-ah); which means out-spokenness, i.e. frankness, bluntness, publicity; by implication, assurance. It is made up of two Geek words: pas = all, every, etc.; rheo = utter, speak. Thus, confidence means to have an out-spokenness before God, or a boldness to speak your heart to Him.

We can talk to the Lord about anything and everything, but in doing so we must be totally honest with God. The Lord desires that we pray confidently, earnestly and honestly. He is not impressed with our diction, vocabulary, or intellect - He is concerned with our sincerity and boldness.

Friend, you will not take time to share the concerns of your heart with God unless you believe that such praying will make a difference in your everyday life or in the lives of those for whom you pray. You must have faith, confidence that when you speak God hears, and what God hears will result in some action. Think about two important elements of our confidence in appearing before God in prayer.

A. The Worth of Prayer

Is prayer worth your time? Your immediate answer is likely to be in the affirmative. If so, then why do we not spend more time in prayer? I don’t think we really believe in the worth of prayer, at least if we judge our belief by our actions. Few of us pray so seldomly that it belies what so many of us say we believe on the subject. John is writing to remind all believers concerning the worth of prayer. You need to have confidence that prayer does make a difference.

  • Prayer is a Sin-Killer

Look at Josiah as mentioned in 2 Chronicles 34:3 -  "For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his father David; and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, the wooden images, the carved images, and the molded images."

Note in this text that the young king sought the face of God - He went to God in sincere prayer. Josiah became King during a terrible time in the history of God’s people. The people lived in sin and worshipped idols of all kinds, so Josiah began to seek God's face in prayer and God showed Himself to Josiah. The young king led a revival that shook the nation for God. It all started with prayer. He became king of Judah when he was only eight years of age and by age sixteen he began to pray earnestly and to seek God’s face. Think of that - a sixteen-year-old praying on his face before God. What was the result? A revival broke out in Judah. Josiah had the idols burned and he tore down the devil’s strongholds all over the land. The revival that came from his prayer life was so overwhelming that it even reached over into wicked Israel to the north. YES, prayer is a Sin-Killer.

  • Prayer is a Door-Opener

Look at Peter, as recorded in the Book of Acts, chapter 12. He was in prison as recorded in Acts but the church offered up fervent prayer for him. James had already been put to death by the authorities and Peter was to be the next Christian to die, but as the church prayed an angel was sent to lead him out of prison. Peter was delivered through prayer to God.

I ask you again, is prayer worth your time? Yes, if we have confidence in the God who answers prayer, prayer can be a Sin-Killer and a Door-Opener.

Let me add that ....

  • Prayer is a Power-Bringer

Recall the believers as described at Pentecost in The Book of Acts, chapter 2. They were in an upper room praying for ten days when suddenly the Spirit of God fell. The frightened disciples would never be the same again. The world would never be the same again. The Spirit was sent in answer to the confident prayer of those early saints. On the day of Pentecost a short sermon by Peter resulted in 3,000 people being saved. The Church was birthed through prayer and faith.

I could go on and on with the description of what prayer can do, but I have just mentioned a few of these examples to remind you that prayer is God’s way of doing His work. We can never understand it or comprehend why God chose to use prayer the way He does to accomplish His work in us and through us, but that He has chosen to do so and promised to do so. We must have confidence in God through prayer and we must be consistent in prayer to God.

Not only do we see the worth of prayer, but note also ...

B. The Welcome in Prayer

In order to have confidence that God answers prayer, we must feel welcome before Him in prayer. The way our text reads, it gives us a glimpse into the very nature of God. God loves for His children to pray. The text says that when we ask, He hears us.

We have this Confidence in prayer, that when we pray He hears us. The idea in this presentation is that God is waiting to hear from us. Do you know how you feel when you are waiting for an important phone call? You stay near the phone. You don’t want the caller tophone and no one to answer. You have promised to be available and you keep looking at the phone wondering when it will ring. That is the picture here. I don’t want to portray God as being weak in this illustration - to the contrary, I want you to see the heart and love of God for you. He longs to hear from you and promises to stay nearby so you can talk to Him. Yes, and He truly wants to talk to you as well.

So let’s understand this clearly, God wants you to have confidence in prayer. He desires for you to know that prayer is worth every minute you spend at it and that you are welcome, yes, even anticipated at the Throne of Grace.

But this is not enough. Once we know Our Confidence of Appearing before God in Prayer, we then need to see ...

II. Our Confidence in Appealing to God in Prayer

When we appeal to God, we are to do so with humility. I know that it sounds like a contradiction to say that we are to come before the Throne of God with boldness, and then to say that we must have humility before God, but boldness must never be construed to be arrogance. The word "ask" in our text, stands in juxtaposition to a Greek word which means to demand or require. The word "ask" in our text comes from the Greek word aiteo (ahee-teh'-o), which is of uncertain derivation. It is used exclusively in the New Testament to mean "to ask, beg, call for, crave, desire, or require."

Let’s look at an example of a different word used in Matthew 2:4. Here we have the record of Herod “demanding” to know where the Christ would be born. The word translated “ask” in this text is stated as “inquire” in the NKJV, and “demanded” in the KJV. It is a different word from that used to speak of our prayer life to God as mentioned in 1 John. It is the word which speaks of one having authority to require an answer. That word is never used to speak of prayer to God. We do not DEMAND things of Him. The term “boldness” or “confidence” does not speak of telling God what to do. You will hear some "name and claim it" preacher on television or the internet saying that we can demand God to do what He has promised. They say God "has to" do what He promised to do. Dear friend, please be sure of this, God is God and you are not! Boldness is confidence but never arrogance. You don't dictate to God what He will or will not do. Proper prayer is always seeking God's will and not our will. It means that we are welcome at His throne and that He knows what is best.

Appearing before God and appealing to God are two different things. The appealing has to do with the very requests we make when we come before the Heavenly Father. John implies that there are elements which can block our prayers from being effectual, from being successful. Look at two aspects of this thought with me.

A. The Human Obstructions to Prayer - Our Walk

Look at what we may do to create a roadblock to the gates of answered prayer. Now before I mention several human elements which destroy effect praying, let me point out for clarity that prayer is understood to be something believers can and should do. Praying is not for unbelievers. Unbelievers may wish for things and think it is prayer; unbelievers may ask for things by calling upon the name of God, but Jesus made it clear that you must the child of the Heavenly Father in order to truly ask things of Him. He taught the disciples to pray, “Our Father, who art in heaven.” The only way God is your Father is if you have been born into the His family. That is called the New Birth - being born again means turning from your sin and trusting Christ as your Lord and Savior. But for those who belong to the Father, prayer is our privilege and responsibility. Yet, we may create obstructions to having our prayers answered.

  • Selfishness

James tells us in 4:3 that we do not get what we ask for because we are selfish and ask for things out of our lust and greed.

  • Sinfulness

Psalm 66:8 states that iniquity, even hidden in the heart, will keep our prayers from being answered.

  • Impatience

Hebrews 11:6 tells us that we must believe that God is and that He is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. We must not grow impatient. Look at Romans 4:20. Note how Jesus taught also about importunity. We must be willing to wait and trust.

  • Doubt

We must believe when we ask. If we do not believe God can and will answer us, we will never be successful in prayer. Look at Psalm 5:3. We must pray and expect an answer.

  • Unforgiveness

Mark 11:25-26 clearly states that God will not hear us when we pray if we are unforgiving of others.

  • Formality

Jesus spoke about praying in His will and in His name. He also spoke about praying in with repetitious words. Christ simply meant that we must be sincere when we pray. Mere formality will avail nothing with God.

Okay, so we have the human obstructions to answered prayer. Now let's look at ...

B. The Heavenly Obstruction to Prayer - His Will

I want to point out that John makes mention of one obstruction to prayer which begins in heaven. John tells us that we must pray in the will of God. Now, be sure that you do not think that this means merely saying the words, "If it be Thy wil." Let's look at this more closely. This actually means that you and I are to so abide in Him and His words in us that we know how to pray in His will. We must get before God often and remain in His Word till we know His heart and His purposes. You might think that is impossible, but it is not.

Let me give you an example. Terry S. Wise, in his book "Fundamentals of Spiritual Warfare," Simon & Schuster, pages 114-116, states, “While on furlough at his home in church in Michigan, a medical missionary told the following story: While serving at a small field hospital in Africa, every two weeks I traveled by bicycle through the jungle to a nearby city for supplies. This was a journey of two days which required camping overnight at the halfway point. One of these journeys, I arrived in the city where I planned to collect money from a bank, purchase medicine and supplies, and then begin my two-day journey back to the field hospital. Upon arrival in the city, I observed two men fighting, one of whom had been seriously injured. I treated him for his injuries, and at the same time witnessed to him about the Lord Jesus Christ. I then traveled back home without incident.

"Two weeks later I repeated my journey. Upon arriving in the city, I was approached by the young man I had treated two weeks earlier. He told me that he knew that I carried money and medicines. He said, ‘Some friends and I followed you into the jungle, knowing that you would camp overnight. We were waiting just outside your campsite for you to go to sleep. We planned to kill you and take your money and drugs. But just as we were about to move into your campsite, we saw that you were surrounded by 26 armed guards.’

"At this, I laughed and said that I was certainly all alone out in the jungle campsite. The young man pressed the point, however and said, ‘No, sir, I was not the only person to see the guards. My five friends also saw them, and we all counted them. It was because of those guards that we were afraid and left you alone.’

"At this point in the church presentation in Michigan, one of the men in the church jumped to his feet and interrupted the speaker. He asked, ‘Sir, can you tell me the exact day that this incident happened?’ It took the missionary a moment to recall, but he could. When he informed the congregation of the date, the man who had interrupted him told his story.

‘When it is night in Africa, it is day here. On the night of your incident in Africa, it was morning here and I was preparing to go play a game of golf. As I was putting my golf bag in the car, I felt the Lord leading me to pray for you. In fact, the urging of the Lord was so strong that I called the men in this church together to meet with me here in the sanctuary to pray for you. Would all of those men with me on that day please stand?’ The men stood and when all were counted, the number was 26. This is the power of prayer that overcomes the dark deeds of the enemy."

Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance, it is laying hold of God’s readiness. Find out what God is up to and pray for that, you will get it every time. That is what it means to pray in the Spirit. Prayer is not sending God to run your errands, it is submitting to God’s authority, will and purposes in our lives. Prayer produces boldness.

1 Samuel 12:23 states, " 23 Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way." We note here that prayerlessness is sin. Jesus said, “When you pray,” not, “If you pray.” Paul said, “Pray without ceasing.” Prayerlessness is sin.

Prayer is the only way to get God’s power released into your life. Prayer is the secret to having God’s power released in you.

Friends, listen to me. You and I can have the will of God revealed to us in prayer. We can pray in victory. You can have this confidence in you, that God answers prayer. He answers every prayer prayed in His will.

Let me hasten to the end. We have seen Our Confidence in Appearing before God in Prayer, and we have seen Our Confidence in Appealing to God in Prayer. Let us now look at ...

III. Our Confidence in Appropriating from God in Prayer

John tells us that we can have confidence that we will have what we ask for. Here are three great truths for you.

A. A Promise is Presented

God gives us this promise - He will hear us and He will answer us. Now, isn't that wonderful? He will do all He promised to do in His Word and He promised to hear and answer those who pray. This is not wishing or guessing, this is God’s promise. Why do we not pray more frequently and more powerfully? Is it because we do not have confidence in God and in His gift of prayer to us? I suspect that it is this lack of faith and confidence that keeps the average Christian from spending time in prayer.

A promise is presented to those who pray, but also note ...

B. A Presence is Perceived

John says that God hears us when we pray. Think of how close you have to be to hear someone talking. Think of how much closer you have to be to hear someone whispering. But think of how close you would have to be to hear someone thinking! The Bible tells us that Hannah prayed without making any sound and God heard her and answered her ( 1 Samuel 1:13 "Now Hannah spoke in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli thought she was drunk." Wow! God even hears private, silent prayers. That is how close God is to those who call upon Him.

Paul spoke of this in Philippians 4:4-13. He said that the God of peace is with us when we pray and when we trust Him in prayer. Don't you want to get close to God to get down to the business of praying? If only we all knew how faithful God is to answer prayer, we would pray more frequently and fervently.

Note also, that ...

C. A Peace is Produced

Yes, there is a great peace that comes when you have confidence in God through prayer. That is why Paul also says that the peace of God is with those who pray with faith and faithfulness (Philippians 4:4-6). God wants us to have the peace that comes from knowing that He hears us and will answer us when we call upon Him.

Conclusion

Prayer is the most powerful force in the world. The church has the power to change the course of history through prayer.

At the end of the Korean War in the 1950s, a number of Korean Christians built bleachers facing the 38th Parallel, the dividing line between the Communist North Korea and free South Korea. Daily they sat in those bleachers and prayed for God to protect them. As a result, millions of Koreans have become Christians. The largest local church in the world exists in Seoul, South Korea. North Korea has never been successfully able to attack South Korea again, though they have sought to draw up plans for an attack again and again. Even today, North Koreans are literally starving to death, while South Korea enjoys great financial wealth. South Korea has even sent missionaries to America to witness to us in our own country. Prayer can change the course of history. America needs the prayers of godly Christians right now - now, as much as ever before!

Our families need prayer.

Our teens need prayer.

Our churches need pray.

Our preachers need prayer.

Our leaders need prayer.

Our schools need prayer.

Dear people of God, we all need to pray sincerely and faithfully.

  • Prayer was offered by the people prayed in Egypt, God heard their cries and delivered them - Exodus 2:23.
  • Prayer was offered at the Red Sea and a passage was opened - Exodus 14:10-15.
  • Prayer brought victory over Amalek in the wilderness - Exodus 17:11.
  • Prayer caused the sun to stand still for Joshua - Joshua 10:12-15.
  • Prayer gave Samson back his strength to defeat the Philistines - Judges 16:28.
  • Prayer gave a son to Hannah names Samuel and changed a nation - 1 Samuel 1:11, 20.
  • Prayer brought wisdom to Solomon - 1 Kings 3:5-14.
  • Prayer plugged up the sky so it did not rain for 3 ½ years - James 5:17.
  • Prayer brought down fire on Mt. Carmel - 1 Kings 18:36.
  • Prayer added 15 years to Hezekiah’s life - 2 Kings 6:17.
  • Prayer delivered Jonah from the Great Fish - Jonah 2:1, 10.
  • Prayer saved Peter from sinking in the Sea of Galilee - Matthew 14:35
  • Prayer brought an earthquake to Philippi and saved Paul and Silas - Acts 16:26

Tennyson said it well, “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.”

Someone said, “The promise of the fruit of heaven will drop down in our laps when we shake the tree of promise with the hand of prayer.”

To become great in prayer, we must simply pray greatly. We must pray and not give up. We must pray and inspect our lives to see that we are not creating obstructions to answered prayer.

The first and most important prayer a person can pray is, “God be merciful to me, a sinner.” If you do not know Him as your Lord and Savior, turn from your own way, your sin, and trust Jesus who died for your redemption and rose for your justification. Also, many here today have loved ones who need the Lord. Would you pray for them? Surely you have done so. But, would you pray for them in this very service. Perhaps today is the day of answered prayer for a loved one to be saved, for a job for the unemployed, for a healing of the body, for guidance in an important choice, and for God’s work to explode and expand across our nation.

LET US PRAY!