Inspire, Winter 1995

A News Publication for Cedarville College Alumni ils AAAAAAAAAAAAA H istorians claim that Mary, Queen ofScots,said:"I fear the prayers ofJohn Knox more than 10,000 soldiers." In her opinion, the supplications ofthe Reformer were more powerful than the swords ofan opposing army. Could anyone express that conviction about your prayers? Mine? Are your petitions to God powerful or impotent? What is the Biblical secret for power in our prayer life? If you are like me,you find it difficult to be an effective prayer warrior. Why is that true? George Muller, known for dramatic answers to his prayers, gave this counsel:"Prayer is not overcoming God's reluctance; it is laying hold ofGod's willingness." James gave us a prescription for powerful prayer:"The effective,fervent prayer ofa righteous man avails much" (James 5:16,NKJV).The NIV puts it this way:"The prayer ofa righteous man is powerful and effective." Eugene Peterson in his contemporary paraphrase, The Message,gives this insight:"The prayer ofa person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with." All three translations set forth three prerequisites for power in prayer. First, we must pray.E.M.Bounds,in his book Power Through Prayer, writes:"No learning can make up for the failure to pray. No earnestness,no diligence, no study, no gifts will supply its lack." Sad, but true. We would rather preach or teach than pray.We can find time to do,but we can't find time to pray.If there is no prayer,or little prayer,then obviously there will be no power in our petitions. fe WINTER 1995 James earlier wrote:"Yet you do not have,because you do not ask" (James 4:2). Paul said:"Pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Christ Jesus taught that"men always ought to pray and not lose heart" (Luke 18:1). There is a difference between praying and saying prayers. A line in Hamlet reads:"Words without thoughts never to heaven go."How true! Too often we pray to impress others or even ourselves."We fall under the condemnation ofthe Pharisees"(Matthew 6:5-8). Our prayers, like those ofthe Psalmist,should be cries from the heart(Psalm 28:1-2). How can you improve your prayer time? Keep a log of your activities for a week. How much time do you spend watching TV,reading newspapers,cleaning the house,doing yard work,playing with the kids,reading your Bible,and praying? Take a hard look at your schedule. Deliberately double the time you spend in prayer.In another month,try to increase your time in prayer. Prayer is spiritual labor(Colossians 4:12),so work at it,just as you work on other personal priorities. Second,we must have a divinely produced burden in our prayer. The NKJV uses the adjectives "effective"and "fervent"to describe this prerequisite. Those words are the translation ofone Greek participle: energoumene.You can see the English term "energy"in that word. Literally, it means an "in working." Our prayer must be a willful response to the work ofGod within our lives. Paul instructed:"Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure"(Philippians 2:12-13).Prayer is essential to Spirit- produced sanctification. As the Spirit of God develops us into Christ-likeness,He will direct and motivate our inner concern and burdens(Romans 8:26). Persistence and desperateness must pervade our prayerful concern. We must be like the widow who constantly petitioned thejudge in order to get her . request(Luke 28:1-8).Furthermore,our burden in prayer must always be supported by the clear teaching of Scripture. John wrote:"Now 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, whatever we ask,we know that we have the petitions that we have asked ofHim"(1 John 5:14-15).The spirit of God will never produce a genuine prayer burden within us that is contrary to the will ofGod revealed in the Scriptures. Third,we must be righteous.We must be righteous in our standing before God; that is, we must definitely be saved.In addition, we must be righteous in our lifestyle if we expect to have our prayers answered. The Psalmist exclaimed:"If!regard iniquity in my heart,the Lord will not hear"(Psalm 66:18). You cannot ask God for something if you are living in disobedience to His moral will. Prayer must be prompted by the Spirit ofGod according to the will ofGod and for His glory. When we meet those prescribed conditions for effective prayer,God will"do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according the power that works in us" (Ephesians 3:20). Ask yourself these questions. Are you saved? Are you seeking to live a holy life? Do you want God's will to be worked out in your life? If you can answer YES to those questions,then let your request be known to God.Pray.Tell Him what is on your heart. Then believe God will answer your prayers. by Dr.Robert Gromacki, Distinguished Professor ofBible