The Prayer Power Continuum
(James 1:5-8; 4:2b-3, 7-10; 5:16-18 )
1. What tool can you use to cut water? A Sea-saw.
2. What tool did God give you to help you stay in conversation with Him? Prayer.
Prayer is an important tool that God has given us, and one in which the devil will go to great pains to keep us from mastering.
3. Studying the Word and praying are the believer’s lifeblood. I compare them to white blood cells and red blood cells.
4. If you have just red blood cells, you have compromised immunity; if you have all white cells, you become anemic and lifeless. We need both.
5. But there is a difference: the Scriptures are the objective standard by which everything we do is to be subjected. Our subjective prayers need to line up and submit themselves to the authority of Scripture.
6. The Word has much to say about prayer, and today we are going to look at the subject of the power of prayer.
Main Idea: Like a light dimmer, the power is our prayers is connected to the depth of our walk with God. The closer we walk with God, the more potent our prayers.
I. The Power In Our Prayers is Logically INDEXED To Our Walk With God
A. There are few OBSTACLES between a righteous person and God.
1. Not treating ones SPOUSE properly hinders a prayer life.
I Peter 3:7, “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”
Earlier verses talk about wives obeying their husbands. I believe the section “so that your prayers may not be hindered” applies to both husbands and wives. Two general ways that you relate in marriage that will therefore hinder your prayers
i. Neglect (attention, time together, sexual relations, etc.)
ii. Abuse (verbal or physical)
2. Unconfessed SINS in general hinders our prayers.
Isaiah 59:2, “but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God,
and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.”
Nothing between my soul and the Savior…
B. He/she prays in FAITH (James 1:5-8)
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”
1. Our faith is in God’s ability, character, and disposition toward us.
2. Being aware of our own ignorance tempers our faith; we don’t know what God wants to do in a certain situation.
C. He/she is in tune with the will of GOD based first upon the Word, then the leading of the Spirit and observation as to what God is doing.
1. I John 5:14, “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.”
2. The best leaders see what God is doing and then line up behind Him!
3. Prayer does not exist primarily for our comfort (though it includes that), but mostly to help us further God’s purposes and bring Him glory.
D. A righteous person takes the TIME to pray, not as a token or last resort.
James 4:2b-3, “ …You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.”
II. No Matter How CLOSELY You Walk With God, Many of Your Prayers Will Not Be Answered Exactly As You Prayed.
James 5:16-18 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18 Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.
A. Take the case of Elijah, in SOME instances God gave Him what He asked for.
B. Elijah asked God that he would die, but God did not DO it (I Kings 19:4).
1. The silence in Scripture should be louder to us than it is.
2. The remarkably answered prayers get the attention, not the unanswered.
3. Elijah likely prayed that Ahab and Jezebel would turn to the Lord, that the persecution of the Lord’s prophets would stop, that Israel would repent of its idolatry.
4. It is foolish to presume that all the miseries God’s men and women experienced in the Bible were only because they failed to pray.
C. We can assume all the great men and women of God experienced prayers that were NOT answered as they asked.
III. We Can Develop HABITS To Make Our Prayers More Powerful.
A. Keep short ACCOUNTS with God (4:7-10)
Psalm 66:18, “If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.”
James 4:7-10, “ Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.”
B. Ask for specific steps rather that than only the end PRODUCT.
1. David prayed a step at a time to keep ahead of Saul or Absalom in the Psalms. He didn’t just say, “Kill Saul and make me king!”
2. Elijah asked God to stop the rain. Later He asked Him to send rain. He didn’t ask for both at once.
3. Prayer is not like asking a genie for a wish. It is more like a supernatural tool God gives us to use, a little at a time.
4. When Luke & Sarah lived in St. Louis, Luke decided to take down a tree. He had a small chain saw only, not a lot of space.
C. Make REQUESTS with the context of communing with God in different ways.
1. If you had a supposed friend or relative who would not return your repeated calls and never expressed any interest in your life — and if he/she called and asked to borrow money, would you loan it to them?
2. If you are a friend of God, do you think your prayers would be more potent than if you showed only little interest in Him?
D. We can never dictate or DEMAND from God, but there are some blessings we will not receive unless we ask, but our prayers are more potent when we are on praying ground.