Prayer That Avails Much
Scriptures: 2 Chronicles 7:12-16; James 5:13-16; Acts 12:5-10
2 Chronicles 7:12-16 says, “And the LORD appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, ‘I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for Myself for a house of sacrifice. If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people; if My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. Now My eyes shall be open, and My ears attentive unto the prayer that is made in this place. For now have I chosen and sanctified this house, that My name may be there forever: and My eyes and My heart shall be there perpetually.” When King Solomon dedicated the Temple, he prayed to God for His continual presence and blessing. In answer to Solomon’s prayer, God appeared to him in a dream and told him what we just read. I believe what we read also applies to us and I want you to keep this mind as you listen to this message this morning.
Last week as we stood in our circle to pray to close out our service, I shared with you the testimony of Pastor John Ramirez who was a former Satan worshipper. In his testimony he said that he was most effective in Satanism when believers were prayerless. When he talked about the things he was doing for Satan in neighborhoods, cities, etc. he said, and I quote, “I was able to go in there and capitalize and take a stand and a position in the spirit realm against the Christians that were not praying. I took that territory away so I owned your neighbor; I owned your neighborhood; I owned your region because you didn't saturate with prayers. I beat you to it.” He also shared how when Christians did pray that it stopped his evil plans in their tracks. He said, “It is those believers, it's that group of people, those intercessors that gave me such a beat down in the spiritual. When I came into the neighborhood and they were in the spirit together holding hands….And, they were able to chase me out the neighborhood. No mission accomplished. Mission aborted, weakened my assignment and no mission accomplished because they knew something: they had the power in that neighborhood that I didn't have.” He wrote a book detailing why Christians need to pray more effectively.
Since the start of this Church we have ended our services standing together in a circle, holding hands and praying. I believe in the power of prayer and if there ever was a time when prayer was needed, it is today, right now. It was my plan on this Sunday to start my short series on being born again, but this week the Spirit has laid on my heart that I must encourage all of us to return to prayer – not just the basic prayer for blessings or for our needs being met, but the effectual, fervent prayer of those who call out to God for a miracle – for a change to happen. The title of my message this morning is “Prayer That Avails Much.” If you take nothing else from this message please take this with you: when Christians pray, things happen in the spiritual realm that is eventually manifested in this physical realm. This belief is under attack today and we need to reassure ourselves and others that prayer changes things.
In 2015, after a shooter left 14 dead in California, the cover of the New York Daily News shouted “God Isn’t Fixing This! As the latest batch of innocent Americans are left lying in pools of blood, cowards (referring to politicians) who could truly end gun scourge continue to hide behind meaningless platitudes.” The meaningless platitude the newspaper was referring to is this: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families.” I shared with you a couple of weeks ago that after the shootings in El Paso, TX and in Dayton, OH, several members of Congress almost echoed the exact same thing. Most said “Thoughts and prayers are not enough. We have to take action.” However, one US congressman and presidential candidate said “We are not going to give thoughts and prayers, which are bull****.” This tells four things. One, we need to get back on our knees! Two, there are people out there who have no idea about the power of prayer or what prayer (our personal conversation with our heavenly Father) is all about. Three, it tells me that maybe some people do not pray because they do not believe it changes anything. And lastly, people do not think to earnestly pray until something bad happens which means their prayers are reactive versus being proactive. If we want to see things changed, we must be proactive in our prayers. Pray before the bad happens versus just praying afterwards. We should also be praying for those who have the power to change the path we are currently on as a nation. We must start blanketing our nation with prayer.
Since 1952, the first Thursday of May is designated as the National Day of Prayer in the United States. It was designated as such by the United States Congress. On this day we are asked "to turn to God in prayer and meditation". The president is required by law to sign a proclamation each year, encouraging all Americans to pray on this day. Although the modern law formalizing the annual observance was enacted in 1952, earlier days of fasting and prayer had been established by the Second Continental Congress from 1775 until 1783, and by President John Adams in 1798 and 1799. I am sharing this history with you because this great nation in which we live has a strong history of believing in the power of prayer and actually spending time on their knees praying. But our history is being rewritten! What will be said of us if this world is still here 100 years from now? Will we be known as a nation that prayed?
Not according to a recent survey by Pew Research. In that survey less than 40% of Christians pray daily – and that include all types of prayer. Of those surveyed, those between the ages of 30-49 had the highest percent of respondent who prayed daily at 34%. What caught my attention is the fact that as people gained more education, they prayed less. Forty-three percent of those with a high school education or less prayed daily versus only nine percent of those with a post-graduate degree. Those with some college or with a college degree fell between these two (35% and 15% respectively.) What we are seeing played out in the world today are indicative of people who no longer see the need for prayer. I may be naïve, but if we want to see the violence decrease, we need to start praying. If we want to see a reduction in suicides, marriages failing, drug abuse and everything else that is destroying what God has made, we need to return to prayer. We need to start talking with our heavenly Father and we need to do it before the tragedy happens!
The most effective prayer is the proactive prayer. It’s the prayer that gets in the front of something; it not the prayer that lags behind and tries to catch up. When we pray after something happens, it puts us in the position of doing damage control. Praying before hand puts us in the position of being able to stop or minimize the damage before it happens. When you are preparing to go on a trip and you pray and ask God to watch over you and keep you safe on your trip that is being proactive. That is looking at what could potentially happen and praying before it does. Last Sunday we were proactive in our prayers. We prayed against the violence in our country among other things. That is what we have the authority and the right to do. It’s part of our inheritance. So this morning I want to renew your faith in your prayer and hopefully reignite your prayer life so that we can see change in our homes, in our neighborhoods, in our cities, in our state and in our nation. Turn with me to James chapter five.
“Is any among you afflicted? Let him pray. Is any merry? Let him sing psalms. Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: and the prayer of faith shall deliver the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he has committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. (James 5:13-16)
In these verses James mentions praying three times: for affliction (which are hardships and not physical illnesses); for sickness; and for one another’s faults. Then he says that the “effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” That word “avails” means “to have or exercise force.” It paints the image that, because you have prayed, because you have spoken it forth, it is going to happen. It means that something is going to change because you prayed! James makes it clear that when the prayer of faith is prayed and the name of Jesus Christ invoked, the Lord shall act! Again, this is part of our inheritance as children of the Most High God!
Now I want to share something with you that will hopefully stir you up and ignite your prayer life. All of us are facing situations where the only thing that is left to do is pray, and pray hard. Whatever you are facing I want you to listen closely to what I am about to tell you. Isaiah 55:11 says, “So shall my word be that goes forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” The Bible says that when God speaks, His words go forth and they accomplish what He speaks. Now listen closely, if we are God’s children, if we have God’s life and nature living in us, then what we speak should come to pass. When we pray, things should change. Now some of you may be wondering where in the world I came up with this! Am I now preaching a name it and claim it message? The answer is no. What I am telling you is that as a child of God operating within the will of God, when you cry out to your Father and believe that your prayer is answered, it will be! The problem is that many adults do not believe it! As a matter of fact, children believe it more than we do.
Let me give you an example before I go further. When Clarissa was about 3 or 4 years old, we were visiting our family in Tennessee. While we were at my father’s house, my aunt (his sister) stopped by with her grandson who was a baby. While we were sitting there, she told us that the baby had been born with a hole in his heart and that the doctors were planning to do surgery to repair his heart. I asked my aunt if I could pray for the baby. I took the baby from her arms and held him. Then I asked Clarissa to pray with me that the baby’s heart would be healed. Clarissa stopped what she was doing, came over to me and laid her small hands on the baby’s chest and I placed mine on top of hers. I prayed that the hole would close, his heart would be healed and the baby would not need surgery. When I finished, Clarissa went back to doing what she was doing and I gave the baby back to my aunt. A few weeks later I was talking with my dad and I asked him about the baby. He told me they had taken the baby to his follow-up appointment and the doctors said he was fine, that the hole had closed up. When I told Clarissa about it she had a look that said “Are you surprised?” While I was not surprised that God had healed the baby, I had forgotten how easily children walk in faith when they grow up hearing about God and believing in Him. While you may not believe your words carry power, think about how many children were told growing up that they would be nothing and they grew up living according to what they were told. I will let that stew for a moment.
When you pray you got to believe that your words matter. Listen to what Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” Proverbs 18:21 says you are saying you love death if that is what you’re speaking, or you are saying you love life if that is what you’re speaking. So are you speaking life or death? Jesus said, “O generation of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart brings forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the Day of Judgment. For by your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned.” (Matthew 12:34-37)
I know you may be thinking what does this have to do with your prayer life. Well, let me tell you. We sincerely pray about things that we believe in and we sincerely want God to change. And you know when you are sincerely praying about something. It’s not a one and done. It’s not a prayer you pray and then forget about. When you are truly praying for something to change and your believe it’s going to change, you do not forget you prayed! You actually start looking and waiting patiently for the change. If we are not doing that then we are not praying the “effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man (which) avails much!” We must start praying with the expectation that our prayers are answered.
And let me be clear on this point. Many people refused to pray about certain situation and for certain people. Most don’t pray for people they don’t like. They speak forth from their hearts what they believe about the situation or the person, both death and life. When you speak from your heart that something will not change so therefore you will not pray about it you are speaking death. When you believe someone is so bad and offensive that they do not deserve your prayer, you are speaking death. I know there are a lot of Christians who don’t pray for the president because they don’t like him. For the most part, it has nothing to do with his policies. They just don’t like him as a person so they don’t pray for him. I know Christians who don’t pray for people who offend them, especially if they are sick or have a need. They don’t pray for people they don’t believe are worthy of their prayers. Take a mass murderer. Name one. Very few will be willing to pray for a mass murderer. Why you ask? Because they don’t deserve it. But God says he wants all men to have an opportunity to be saved and to know the truth. And you know that a mass murderer is not familiar with the knowledge of truth that God is talking about. It’s okay to say Amen! Prayer is the most powerful instrument that we have at our disposal to impact change and if we are not praying for what is happening around us and for those who can make a difference we are wasting one of the most valuable resources God has here on earth – our prayers!
Now here’s the problem. Despite all the talk about how God wants and needs us to pray, many Christians don’t pray because of how they understand the sovereignty of God. Many believe that “God is in control,” so what’s the urgency in praying? Whatever happens is going to happen because He’s in control. The problem is that when a Christian says “God is in control,” he or she is saying “God is in control of everything.” That is not true. Most Christians believe God’s plans cannot truly be changed but I will give you an example shortly that disproves this. Before I go there, let me give you a way to wrap your mind around God being in control so you can explain it to the next person who says that. Most of you have seen the movie “The Wizard of Oz.” The movie has a beginning and it has an ending. For those who have seen it, we know the beginning and the ending of the movie. Well, God sees the beginning and the end of His plan for creation. Within His plan, there is a lot of freedom for us to make decisions for our own personal lives. So the control is God has a plan, from beginning to end, that is going to happen. However, for Rodney, (like each of you) he makes independent decisions every single day that will determine whether he’s going to be in God’s will or not be in God’s will. That’s not God’s decision to make. God will not control that and Satan cannot control that. It’s on Rodney. Rodney makes that call just as you make the call for your life. When we understand this, we understand our need to be praying because when we pray we seek and request God to intervene in our situations. We invite Him to act on our behalf. So let me give you one example of where God changed His plan after someone prayed. Look at Second Kings 20:1-6.
“In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, 'Thus says the LORD, set your house in order; for you shall die, and not live.' Then he turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the LORD, saying, ‘I beseech you, O LORD, remember now how I have walked before you in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in your sight.’ And Hezekiah wept bitterly. And it came to pass, before Isaiah was gone out into the middle court, that the word of the LORD came to him, saying, ‘Turn again, and tell Hezekiah the ruler of my people.’ Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father, ‘I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears: behold, I will heal you: on the third day you shall go up unto the house of the LORD. And I will add unto your days fifteen years; and I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for My own sake, and for My servant David's sake.” (2 Kings 20:1-6)
Did you see it? Isaiah gave Hezekiah the word from the Lord. He told him “You are going to die so get your house in order.” Hezekiah immediately prays to the Lord. As Isaiah is walking out of Hezekiah’s house the Lord says stop and turn around because I have a new assignment for you. Isaiah tells Hezekiah that he’s going to die; Hezekiah prays to God and reminds him of the things that he has done for the kingdom; and God hears him and grants him fifteen additional years. You don’t think prayer matters? God changed His mind after Hezekiah prayed. Imagine what will happen when we are praying in agreement with God’s desires and plan! Turn to the twelfth chapter of book of Acts.
I know that some of you might believe that your prayers are not being heard or acted upon, but that is a lie from the depths of hell. God hears each and every prayer. That is a fact. We must position ourselves to believe that He does and that He will answer. We must believe as time is running out. Pay close attention to these Scriptures and let them burn in your hearts as you renew your prayer life. In the twelfth chapter of Acts, we will start at verse five.
“Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him. And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the guards before the door kept the prison. And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he struck Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, ‘Arise up quickly.’ And his chains fell off from his hands. And the angel said unto him, ‘Gird yourself, and bind on your sandals.’ And so he did. And he said unto him, ‘Cast your garment about you, and follow me.’ And he went out, and followed him; and knew not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision. When they were past the first and the second guard, they came unto the iron gate that leads unto the city; which opened to them of its own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and immediately the angel departed from him.” (Acts 12:5-10)
I believe the Bible was written so that we could know how to live in this world. What we read in the Bible should be what we are seeing in our lives. In this story the Church prayed without ceasing for Peter. Because they prayed, an angel was sent to bust him out of prison. Now I have a question for you. If prayer was made without ceasing concerning all of the violence going on in this country, do you think God would be able to do something with those prayers? Do you think God would be able to reduce some of that violence? Do you think God would be able to reduce some of the deaths because we are praying? I believe so. The Bible says the church was praying for Peter. And because the church was praying for him an angel was sent to bust him out of prison. This week there were several arrests made of individuals who made statements about their plans to commit a mass shooting. They were arrested before they could do it. Is it too hard to believe that their plans were interrupted this week because people have been praying? I believe in the power of prayer and I believe prayers have already started having an impact.
If we are praying for our country, if we are praying for Satan and all of his little minions to be neutralized, don’t you think God could get something done? We’re so busy looking at who did what and blaming that person instead of looking at the man behind the mask who is doing all of this. Satan. And Jesus already told us how he operates. Do you recall when Peter was getting into Jesus’ face and telling Him that He wasn’t going to die in Matthew chapter 16? Jesus didn’t say Peter shut up. What did He say? He said “Get thee behind Me Satan.” Peter was not Jesus’ issue. Satan was Jesus’ issue. And the problem with the Body of Christ today is that we want people to be our issue. We want to blame people for what is happening when we should be on our knees praying that the hands of Satan are loosed from those who have a sin nature so he can’t continue the damage he’s doing.
Listen to what is recorded in 1 John 5:14-15, “And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we desired of Him.” As a child of God praying in the will of God, we should have confidence that God is hearing our prayers and is fulfilling them! No doubting!!!
Matthew 18:18-20 says, “Verily I say unto you, whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth concerning anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father who is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” This is what we do every Sunday when we pray together – we touch and agree! Now I do not want you to miss this. God said in Isaiah 55:11 that His word will not return to Him void – in other words what He says will happen. Jesus, the Son of God, now tell us that where two or three are gathered in His name He will be in their midst and when two come together and agree (in prayer) what they ask it will be done by the Father. So if whatever God speaks will happen, then the same applies to Jesus. And if the same applies to Jesus, then Jesus just told us that when we come together in agreement, those prayers are answered. God’s word will not return to Him void! And to make this even better, John then tells us that this is the confidence that we should have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will He hears us. Now do you think its Jesus will that people are killing one another? Or that we are addicted to drugs? That our families are falling apart? Absolutely not! So when you pray about these things you have the confidence that your prayers are being heard and answered!!!
I want to close with one final Scripture. Turn to Philippians 4:6-7. It says, “Be anxious for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” As a child of God we should not tolerate anxiety or worry for it will have detrimental effect on our bodies and our soul. God alone can help us and He will do it for us if we pray about everything and give thanks for everything. This is His word given to us to guide us through this life on earth.
As I close this morning I want to remind you of what I read at the beginning from Second Chronicles chapter seven. “If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14) We are His people. We are called by His name. It’s our time to humble ourselves, pray, and seek God’s face. We do not have any other means to change what is happening in the world around us. I believe when we do this, God will act on our behalf!
Do not let Satan steal from you the power of your prayer. Reawaken your conversations with your heavenly Father knowing that He looks forward to spending that personal time with you. We have authority in this world and we use our authority by the words that we speak, especially when we are praying to our heavenly Father. If we do not start praying, we will continue to see the El Paso’s and the Dayton’s. We must make this personal. That’s the bottom line. We must say “I am going to pray so that these things will become less and less and less.” That is where the true action can take place because our prayers have an affect on the realm of the spirit. What happens in the spirit realm shows up in the natural. New Light, let this be the last day that we don’t take a proactive stance and use our authority the way the Bible says we can. If we are willing to do that, we will see fewer of the tragedies that we have seen in our neighborhood, in our cities, in our state and in our nation. I truly believe that.
Until next time, “The Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord lift up His countenance on you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26)
(If you are ever in the Kansas City, KS area, please come and worship with us at New Light Christian Fellowship, 15 N. 14th Street, Kansas City, KS 66102. Our service Sunday worship starts at 9 a.m. and Thursday night Bible study at 7 p.m. Also, for use of our social media, you can find us at newlightchristianfellowship on FB. To get our live stream services, please make sure you “like” and turn on notifications for our page so you can be notified when we are live streaming. We also have a church website and New Light Christian Fellowship YouTube channel for more of our content. We are developing more social media streams so please stand by and we will notify you once those channels are up and running. We look forward to you worshipping with us. May God bless and keep you.)