Saturday, January 17, 2009

What Good Does Prayer Do

In 35 years of ministry I have heard the following question many times "What good does prayer do?" Why should a Christian pray? One well meaning believer choose not to pray because he believed it would put God on the spot. His reasoning is as follows. God said He would answer our prayers. Thus if we pray and God's doesn't answer, we make God look bad. Further more God knows what He is going to do anyway, why not just let Him do his thing and be grateful when things go our way. So rather than pray, he would thank God when something good would happen. The problem was this fellow was a pastor, and he taught this hearsay to his people. Some of them ended up in spiritual despair, feeling disconnected from God and entirely without hope. In Mark we read of Jesus who "Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, got up, left the house and when off to a solitary place, where he prayed." Mark 1:34-36. Jesus walked with the Father through out his earthly life. The God/Man depended on the Father for instruction and the Holy Spirit for power. The context of Mark 1:34-36is ministry. This was a time of preaching the gospel and casting out demons. In the midst of an extremely busy time of ministry Jesus prayed. Communion with the Father was more precious than sleep. He arose "Very early in the morning, while it was still dark..." I have been amazed at how many really big "He men" get pinned by the sheets. I have been involved in a early morning prayer time with a number of men. Our group started out 10 strong, in a few months we ended up with 2 or 3 each week. The power of the sheets won out over the desire to pray. When the Apostle Paul came to Christ other believers stated of Paul "Observe he prays." What happened, in salvation the Holy Spirit puts the desire to pray in our hearts. Just about every one I have ever seen get saved began to do several things. They began to pray, read the Bible and tell others about Christ. This brings us back to the question why pray? Answer because God commands us to "pray without ceasing." He said "we have not because we ask not." Simply put, we fellowship with God through prayer. Every greatly used of God man or woman in church history was marked by being a person of prayer. Martin Luther said "I have so much to do today, there is no way I can get it all done without spending at least 4 hours in prayer." Prayer moves the hand of God. Prayer is not overcoming God's reluctance, it is getting hold of His highest willingness. Nehemiah prayed 120 days in order to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem which took 52 days. Jesus told the Disciples to "pray to the Lord of the Harvest that he might send forth labors into the harvest." As they prayed they became aware that they were some of the labors God was preparing to send. God conditions us through prayer. How often we miss the prayer part when we quote "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanks giving let your requests be made known to God." We seem to get the worry and being anxious part down well. An old saying "why worry when you can pray, still works today." Are there Biblical examples of prayer making a difference? God was going to destroy Israel and start over with Moses, Moses petitioned God in the strongest of prayers not to destroy them. God answered Moses prayer and spared Israel. Elijah prayed and it rained, he prayed and God sent down fire from heaven to consume the wood, rocks and water on Mount Carmel. Jesus prayed for His disciples and us in John 17: the Father answered and is still answering the prayer of John 17. Why don't we pray? Prayer is a form of spiritual warfare. Ephesians 6 say the two offensive weapons a believer has is the Word of God and Prayer. Prayer takes discipline and concentration, prayer must be purposeful and must be a priority. George Mueller prayed for two men for 42 years. When asked why he still prayed for them, he answered, because God had not told him to stop. One of the men came to Christ at Mueller's funeral service, the other was saved 2 years after Mueller's death. A song writer wrote these words years ago. "Sweet hour of prayer, sweet hour of prayer, draws me from a world of care..." In my years as a counselor the lasting victories came through prayer. The prayers of those being counseled and the prayers of those who loved them. When the Disciples asked Jesus "Teach us to pray." they were praying about their praying. Don't have a passion for prayer, pray until the passion comes, then keep praying. Trust and prayer go together, the more we pray the greater our trust, the greater our trust the more we will pray. Can it be said of you "Observe, he/she prays?"

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