THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 7-7-02
LESSON TITLE: PRAYER: "THE POWER OF PRAYER"
Good morning! Thank you for joining us today for God's Living Word. I hope everyone had a great week. And I hope you had a wonderful 4th of July holiday. What a wonderful time of the year to reflect on our freedoms and to be reminded of how truly blessed we are in the country in which we live. Thank God for the many blessing we have been granted as American citizens.
Well, I hope you are ready to begin this new week with a day of service and offering to your God. As always, it is our commitment through this program to proclaim the simple truth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ - which is confirmed for us in the Bible. I hope you all have your Bible's handy and I hope you are ready to worship God together as we sing praises to His name and study from His wondrous word. Now let's begin by talking to our Father in prayer!
At this time we want to sing our first song of the morning. Won't you all join in with the congregation at this time as we praise God together with the hymn, "Is Thy Heart Right With God?"
(SONG # 1)
There is a word which many take for granted every day, here in America. It describes what we have, due to the great sacrifice of many men and women in giving their lives for this great country of ours. This word gives us the ability to be and do what we want, instead of being controlled by another. This wonderful blessing you and I share in is freedom.
No one telling us what to do, or where to go, or where to live, or where to work. However, we often get so caught up in our own freedom we forget the plight of many of those in the world who are struggling to have any freedom at all.
Another word which is used as a synonym to freedom is liberty. Liberty is defined as freedom from physical, political, and spiritual oppression. Again, we see the same idea being presented here - that one is able to do what he or she wants, making their own decisions in all areas of life.
In the Bible we have a lot of discussion about these ideas of freedom and liberty. In 2 Corinthians 3:17, Paul said, "now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." Again to the Roman brethren he said, "...will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God," (8:21).
Freedom was a very important aspect of Christianity during New Testament times, because people were needing to find refuge and freedom in something. The world and the evils of it, had pulled them down and made them to be in bondage rather than liberty. That's why we find that the Bible confirms that Christ brought liberty to this world. Freedom from the sin and bondage that entangles us with the forces of darkness. This same idea was being present to the Galatian brethren by Paul, when he told them, "stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage," chapter 5 and verse 1. You see Christ has made us free. In fact, in John 8:31, Jesus himself said the, "...truth shall make you free." What is the truth? Jesus went on to say in chapter 14 and verse 6 of the same book, "I am the way, the truth, and the life...."
In understanding freedom, we also need to realize that God still gives us laws that guide us in our freedom. For example, a skydiver has the freedom to jump out of a plane at 10,000 feet. We might think, but why would anyone do that - concluding, he's crazy, but he still has the freedom to do it. However, he must wear a parachute, because there is a higher law of gravity that constrains his freedom. God's laws are the same. They restrain us in some ways, but they are absolutely necessary for us to enjoy real freedom and still be pleasing in His sight. Everything worth anything comes with strings attached or with a pattern to follow. So, enjoying your freedom found in Jesus Christ our Lord. But furthermore, be active in telling others that freedom is for them too?
This morning we will be concluding our series of study on "Prayer." Our specific lesson of the day will deal with "The Power of Prayer." So, please continue with us this morning, and after our next song together I will return with this study from God's Word. The name of our next hymn, "Faith Is The Victory!"
(SONG # 2)
Speaker: Ray Sullins
Glad you're still with us as we look now look back to our series on prayer. In fact, this morning is our final lesson on the series on prayer and we'll actually be looking at kind of a summation on what we've discussed so far, but primarily our topic this morning will deal with something that will help us I believe with prayer because it is about the power of prayer. We've mentioned off and on so many things about prayer and have talked some about the results of prayer, but today we really want to talk about just how powerful prayer is as we can see in scripture and through the Word of God.
But just to remind you of a lot of the things that we've been privileged to cover together as we deal with what prayer is. Communicating with God. The great ability we have to approach the very throne of God as we are His priests, His workers here on this earth, as His royal and special people as the book of Peter tells us. But not only did we look at what prayer was but we saw that there is a certain way that we pray. In other words that God has designed a certain way that we pray to Him and things that we must include in prayer. But even before that, we were able to see that our prayers must be directed to the Father in heaven through the name of Jesus Christ or in His name, just as He gave the example in the Lord's Prayer and spoke to God the Father in heaven. And then yet, as we pray to God we've also seen that our prayers will be answered as believers. We also looked at the concepts of trying to understand well just who does God hear? Well God obviously knows everything. He hears everything but yet He answers the prayers of those who are believers according to His Will.
And so then this morning we want to go directly into our lesson and understanding further about this great wondrous privilege that we have as Christians, the power of prayer. As we've been studying as we've seen together what a great opportunity we have to pray always to God, "to pray without ceasing in everything" as it says there in the book of 1 Thessalonians, chapter 5 and verse 16 and 17.
We've also seen that in everything we give thanks because in the book of Ephesians chapter 5 and verse 20, we see there that in all that we give thanks we do it again to the Father through the Son. And not only that but we've also seen that as we pray, God hears, and that's part of the power that God really instills in prayer, that He really is there all times to hear so that we might talk to Him, so that we might discuss with Him as it said in Philippians 4 and verse 6 that we again in all things and everything in all ways be able to come before God and speak to Him and thank Him and make requests of Him in all facets and areas of life in which we live.
But now if you'll look with me again specifically to the power of prayer, we want to remember a verse that we quoted so many times in our lesson together and that is found in the book of James chapter 5 and verse 16. There the writer tells us that "the effective fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much."
The easiest answer that we can talk about in relationship to the power of prayer is that God not only hears prayer but God answers prayer. And we want to basically this morning look at ample examples as well as scripture that show us that prayer is so powerful because God does give us what we ask for. He gives us what we have need of and those things that are again best for us according to His Will.
But I want you to think first of all back to the many examples throughout scripture of those who have communicated with God and found it well pleasing and prayed with Him and how that He blessed them. One that comes to my mind in the Old Testament is Joseph. Joseph was a man that had many things happen in his life, many obstacles that came his way, but yet he always spoke to God and prayed to God and when he would pray to God notice that his prayers were answered. God would give him the ability to interpret dreams and would place in positions of great power and authority. Why? Because he was communicating with his God and relating to his God his faith and his belief in who God was and his obedience and the honor and reverence that he needed to show to his God.
Well we can go on from Joseph and we could see men like Moses. Moses who spoke to God time after time when the Israelites had great needs. Time after time he prayed and God would give him the answers as to how to keep the armies back or to part the seas or to bring forth water in a certain way, or at times even to bring forth food that they needed to eat. Again, God heard and God answered.
What about Daniel? Daniel and the Lion's Den is one that always comes to my mind there as he was thrown in the pit and how obviously he must have been speaking to his God and praying that God would deliver him and what did God do? But he shut the mouth of the lions, and in the morning when they found him there again still alive with the lion's mouth still shut. They again knew the power of God.
You see again in all of these examples God hears prayer and God answers prayer. But notice in every example again that He answers the prayer of the faithful, those who are striving to do what God has asked, those who are striving to be really what God has asked them to be. Yes, the power of prayer is evident in those lives of individuals who have committed themselves to the service of God.
Again, not saying that God can't hear other prayers. But God surely is not going to bless those who curse Him, those who don't follow Him and those who have rejected His Will. But if yet someone's heart be right and they want to know more about God, He will hear them and lead them to Him. And then when they become Christians surely God will answer their prayers as well as He answers the prayers of us who are at least striving to be righteous as God is righteous.
Now I want to go to the gospel account according to John to look and begin looking rather that is at some scripture in chapter 14, we find that several chapters here deal with this discussion again of prayer or at least the concept of communicating with God, what God does in relationship to that communication, how He receives it, and then what He does in answering it. If you'll look with me in John 14, if you'll look in verse 12 notice what the Lord Savior Jesus Christ in the flesh as He was on the earth said to those who were His followers. He said, "Most assuredly I say to you he who believes in Me the works that I do, he will do also, the greater works than these he will do because I go to My Father and whatever you ask in My name, that I will do that the Father will be glorified. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it." There again, in this discussion it is clearly seen that God answers prayers. Notice again He is talking to His children. He's talking to disciples, if you'll go up earlier in the text, and He's trying to encourage them to say, "look, look you are working for Me. You are working for Me for the Will of the Father just as I have been, and therefore since you are working for Me and you're doing great things as I have done and you'll do even greater things according to what the Will of the Father is." Then in verse 13 He says, "Because of this whatever you ask," notice 'in My name." Whatever you ask to glorify God, not to glorify Jesus but to glorify the Father. "Whatever you ask in My name," He clearly states there, "I will do. I will do it so that God might be glorified, so the people might know that truly you are My disciples and that truly what you say is according to the Will of the Father." Then in verse 14 as we clearly read, "If you ask anything in My name, I will do it."
There again clearly God will do it. He hears and He will do it. Now obviously again, we've looked at a lesson in relationship to praying to the Father and that things are done according to His Will. He will do it according to His Will but the fact is He will do it. He answers the prayer. You might say, "But one time I prayed for this or that and God didn't give me what I asked for." Well remember that God answers according to His Will. God sees down the road. He knows what's the bigger picture. He knows all things and therefore when He answers prayer, He answers them for our best, and sometimes we don't get things or we don't receive what we've asked, but He still has answered the prayer by saying, "No, Ray, you don't need it. No, it is not something that is going to profit you in your life." And therefore we again have to have the faith and trust to know that God's knowledge, wisdom is surely greater than ours and that He will do what is best for us.
So yes, He will give us what we ask if it be according to His Will and if we go on to chapter 15 we find again the same thing, the need for belief if we want what God has promised. Read with me John 15, verse 7. He says, "If you abide in Me and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire and it shall be done for you." He says, "Ask what you desire and it will be done. It will be done." Not it might be, or I'm going to consider it. He says, "Ask and you will receive."
Look over at chapter 16 if you will, chapter 16 and verses 23 and 24, again the same Lord says, "And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly I say to you what ever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask and you will receive that your joy may be full." Here again, the things that we've seen. He says, "Ask the Father in My name and whatever you ask, you will receive." You see, Jesus Christ understood the power of prayer and He was trying to relate that great power and the great ability that prayer offered to mankind through His own Words as He lived on the earth.
Now I want you to go over to the book of 1 John, the letter or epistle that he wrote to Christians, the followers, and notice what he says there in 1 John chapter 3 beginning in verse 22. It says again, "And whatever we ask we receive from Him because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight and this is His commandment that we should believe on the name of the Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another and He gave us commandment." And if you'll notice here again we find clearly that He hears and that He also gives us what we ask of Him. Why? Notice again there's a stipulation. There's something for good, a requirement that really is necessary. If we are keeping His commands, He answers our prayers. The power of prayer again then is really delegated and reserved for the follower of God, the true power and essence that gives us the ability to accomplish great and mighty things before our God according to His Will. Again, is reserved for, as we see, the believer, the follower, the one who strives to be obedient, the one who strives to be like God, the one who strives to be the worthy example, "faithful unto death," as also John said in Revelation chapter 2 and verse 10.
I want you also to look in the book of Mark with me. In Mark chapter 11 and verse 24, it says there again, the words of Christ, "Therefore, I say to you whatever things you ask when you pray believe that you will receive them and you will have them." Again, the power of prayer. How wonderful. Whatever you ask, ask for them, I will hear you and you will receive those things that you have asked for.
I want to end this morning our thoughts on prayer, the power of prayer and the great promise that we have through prayer. In 1 John chapter 5, again we have a beautiful passage there about prayer, about it's power, and about the great confidence that we should and must have in praying to God. Read with me if you will 1 John chapter 5 beginning in verse 14. He says, "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 petition that we have asked of Him." Notice how clear John is here. There is no question at all what he is saying. He is saying whatever we ask. Again, no stipulations. Anything is the word used here. Anything according to His Will though brings us back to the knowledge that yes, we must be obedient and what we ask has to be according to His Will. We can't say, "God, God, I want to commit this sin and forgive me of that sin." Something not according to His Will and yet He's going to somehow accept that. According to His Will. We can ask anything but yet it must be according to His Will because that's how He will answer it, whether it be good or bad.
But then in verse 15 he very clearly states again that He hears. He hears what we ask and then we know that we have the petitions. Why? Because the effective fervent prayer of a righteous man surely does avail. It is something that we can count on. We can know that if we're striving to be righteous as God is righteous, if we're striving to do all that He has asked us to do and to be like Him again, yes our God hears and prayer is powerful because He answers that prayer. He gives us what we have asked for because when we knock on the door or when He is there and He knocks, the doors are opened. He is always ready to hear us. He is always ready to receive us just as we must always be ready to hear and receive the things that He has said to us through His Word.
So I encourage you this morning to realize the great privilege you have as a follower of God to pray because prayer is powerful. Pray because God will give you what you ask for according to His Will. Pray and believe it and have the faith to know that it is real and that He will do the things that He has promised according to what you have asked, again as is designed through His Word. But in all of this remember, remember that as we communicate with God that we do it for His glory, to His purpose, remembering always that we address the Father in the name of the Son, that we thank Him and we honor Him and we glorify Him as we make requests, that we always keep ourselves in perspective and honor Him because He is the great Creator. He is the Almighty God and it is only through Him that truly prayer is powerful.
(SONG # 3 - "There's Not A Friend!")
What a wondrous time we have had together in participating in the things of God. I hope we all have been encouraged through our time spent together. Please remember, you are invited to join us every Sunday morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this service of God.
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May we all strive to know more about our God, so that we will truly have the faith to believe that prayer is powerful! God does hear us when we pray and He has promised to answer our prayers according to His Will!