Summary: How prayer can change things for the better including ourselves.
THE POWER OF PRAYER
I. LET'S TALK ABOUT BELIEVERS WHO AGREE IN PRAYER
A. What happens when the church prays together?
1. "If two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything, that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven" (Matt. 18:19).
B. Leadership can't do it alone!
1. Charles Finney, Abel Clary. Second Great Awakening.
His sermons were chain lightning, flashing conviction into the hearts of the stoutest skeptics. Simple as a child in his utterances, he sometimes startled his hearers by his unique prayers." He could thunder the judgments of God upon sin with great liberty and power and then offer the mercy of the gospel with tenderness and tears. Without question he was a prophetic voice to 19th century America.
His ministry consistently produced revivals, even in areas considered hardened and unreceptive to the gospel. Finney's autobiography is filled with accounts of powerful manifestations of the Spirit. On one occasion when Finney was preaching in a school house, "suddenly an awful solemnity fell upon the assembly and the congregation fell from their seats, crying for mercy." Finney said, "If I had had a sword in each hand I could not have cut them off as fast as they fell. I think the whole congregation was on their knees or prostrated in two minutes." The crying and weeping of the people was so loud that Finney's exhortation of Christ's mercy could not even be heard.
"Finney seemed so anointed with the Holy Spirit that people were often brought under conviction of sin just by looking at him. When holding meetings at Utica, New York, he visited a large factory. At the sight of him one of the workers, and then another, and then another broke down and wept under a sense of their sins, and finally so many were sobbing and weeping that the machinery had to be stopped while Finney pointed them to Christ."
Abel Clary that laid the ground work for these mighty moves of God. "Abel Clary was converted about the same time as Finney, and was licensed to preach also, but he had such a burden of prayer that he could not preach much. Finney wrote, "Mr. Clary continued as long as I did and did not leave until after I had left. He never appeared in public, but gave himself wholly to prayer. His whole time and strength was given to prayer. He would writhe and groan in agony, unable to stand under the weight." "After Clary's death Finney discovered Clary's prayer journal. Finney found in the exact order of the burden laid upon Clary's heart was the order of blessing poured upon his ministry."
2. D. L. Moody, Marianne Adland. 1872 English Revival.
3. Billy Graham and his prayer team
The Year: 1949
The Place: Los Angeles, California
The Results: An extended campaign that resulted in a change of approach in reaching mass number of people for Christ--leading to a new era of mass evangelism/crusades.
The Partners: Graham had conducted many similar events with much smaller results. He later realized that the only difference between the L.A. crusade and all the others before it had been the amount of prayer he and his people had given it.
B. WHAT CAN PRAYER DO?
1. If prayer did nothing other than what Jesus promised, it would be one of the greatest gifts God has given us. "I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete" (John 16:23-24).
2. But prayer does even more. It changes the ordinary man or woman and makes them extraordinary. Jesus taught His disciples that real PRAYER CHANGES ME
Prayer changes us by drawing us closer to God, changing and molding us into His likeness in the process.
David understood prayer's power as a personal change agent. His prayer in Psalm 25:4-5 describes the process that prayer takes a person through: "Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long" (emphasis added).
This passage contains three key phrases: show me, teach me, and guide me. When God shows us His standards and His will for our lives, it isn't always easy on us. It almost always requires us to grow and change. But once we accept what God would show us, He is able to teach us. And when we're teachable and growing, He is finally able to guide us, to lead us into His plan and purpose. When God shows me, He has my heart. When God teaches me, He has my mind. When God guides me, He has my hand.