POWER PRINCIPLE SEVEN: THE POWER OF PRAYER*
C Write the Key Verse from memory.
C Explain how prayer and fasting release God’s power.
C Define prayer.
C Identify various levels of prayer.
C Identify various types of prayer.
C Identify hindrances to prayer.
C Define fasting.
C Identify two types of fasting.
C Explain the purpose of fasting.
The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (James 5:16b)
As you studied about the power in the name of Jesus you learned that believers can use His name in prayer to make requests of the Father. This lesson explores the power of prayer in the name of Jesus. It also presents the associated practice of fasting. Prayer and fasting are powerful principles which release the power of God in the lives of believers.
THE DEFINITION OF PRAYER
Prayer is communion with God. It takes different forms, but basically it occurs when man talks with God and God talks with man. Prayer is described as:
* Some material in this lesson duplicates a chapter on prayer and fasting in "Spiritual Strategies: A Manual On Spiritual Warfare." These practices are not only weapons of warfare, they are power principles. For this reason, some material is repeated while new material is also presented.
Calling upon the name of the Lord: Genesis 12 :8
Crying unto God: Psalms 27:7 ; 34:6
Drawing near to God: Psalms 73:28; Hebrews 10:22
Looking up: Psalms 5:3
Lifting up the soul: Psalms 25:1
Lifting up the heart: Lamentations 3:41
Pouring out the heart: Psalms 62:8
Pouring out the soul: I Samuel 1:15
Crying to Heaven: II Chronicles 32:20
Beseeching the Lord: Exodus 32:11
Seeking God: Job 8 :5
Seeking the face of the Lord: Psalms 27:8
Making supplication: Job 8 :5; Jeremiah 36 :7
THE PRAYER LIFE OF JESUS
Prayer was a powerful tool in the life of the Lord Jesus:
JESUS MADE PRAYER A PRIORITY:
He prayed any time of the day or night: Luke 6:12-13 Prayer took priority over eating: John 4:31-32
Prayer took priority over business: John 4:31-32
PRAYER ACCOMPANIED ANY EVENT OF IMPORTANCE:
At His baptism: Luke 3:21-22
During the first ministry tour: Mark 1:35; Luke 5:16 Before the choice of the disciples: Luke 6:12-13
Before and after the feeding of the 5,000: Matthew 14:19,23; Mark 6:41,46; John 6: 11,14-15
At the feeding of the 4 ,000 : Matthew 1 5:3 6; Mark 8:6 ,7 Before the confession of Peter: Luke 9:18
Before the transfiguration: Luke 9:28,29
At the return of the seventy: Matthew 11:25; Luke 10:21 At the grave of Lazarus: John 11:41-42
At the blessing of the children: Matthew 19:13 At the coming of certain Greeks: John 12:27-28
Before His greatest anguish: Matthew 26:26-27; Mark 14:22-23; Luke 22:17-19 For Peter: Luke 22:32
For the giving of the Holy Spirit: John 14:16
On the road to Emmaus: Luke 24:30-31
Prior to His ascension: Luke 24:50-53
For His followers: John 17
LEVELS OF PRAYER
Paul calls for believers to pray always with "all prayer" (Ephesians 6:18). Another translation of the Bible reads "praying with every kind of prayer” (Goodspeed
Translation). This refers to the various levels and types of prayer.
There are three levels of intensity in prayer: Asking, seeking, and knocking:
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth, and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8)
Asking is the first level of prayer. It is simply presenting a request to God and receiving an immediate answer. In order to receive, the condition is to ask:
. . . ye have not, because ye ask not. (James 4:2)
We have the powerful spiritual weapon of prayer, and yet many do not use it. They do not ask, and because of this, they do not receive.
Seeking is a deeper level of prayer. This is the level of prayer where answers are not as immediate as at the asking level. The 120 gathered in the upper room where they
continued in prayer is an example of seeking. These men and women sought fulfillment of the promise of the Holy Spirit and continued seeking until the answer came (Acts l-2).
Knocking is a deeper level yet. It is prayer that is persistent when answers are longer in coming. It is illustrated by the parable Jesus told in Luke 1 1:5-1 0. The knocking level is the most intense level of spiritual warfare prayer. It is illustrated by Daniel’s
persistence -he continued to knock despite the fact he saw no visible results (Daniel 10 ).
There are various types of prayer illustrated in the model prayer given by the Lord (Matthew 6:9-13). Types of prayer include:
1. WORSHIP AND PRAISE:
You enter into God’s presence with worship and praise:
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise; be thankful unto Him, and bless His Name. (Psalms 100:4)
Worship is giving honor and devotion. Praise is thanksgiving and an expression of
gratitude not only for what God has done but for what He is. You are to worship God in spirit and in truth :
But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in Spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him.
God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:23-24)
Praise and worship can be with:
Singing: Psalms 9:2,11; 40:3; Mark 14:26
Audible praise: Psalms 103 :1
Shouting: Psalms 47:1
Lifting up of the hands: Psalms 63:4 ; 134 :2; I Timothy 2:8
Clapping: Psalms 47:1
Musical instruments: Psalms 1 50:3-5
Standing: II Chronicles 20:19
Bowing: Psalms 95:6
Dancing: Psalms 149 :3
Kneeling: Psalms 95:6
Lying down: Psalms 149 :5
This is prayer committing your life and will to God. It includes prayers of consecration and dedication.
Prayers of petition are requests. Requests must be made according to the will of God as revealed in His written Word. Petitions may be at the levels of asking, seeking, or
knocking. Supplication is another word for this type of prayer. The word supplication means "beseeching God or strongly appealing to Him in behalf of a need ."
4. CONFESSION AND REPENTANCE:
A prayer of confession is repenting and asking forgiveness for sin:
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9)
Intercession is prayer for others. An intercessor is one who takes the place of another or pleads another’s case.
The Bible records that at one time God looked on the earth and saw there was no intercessor:
And He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore His arm brought salvation unto Him, and His righteousness, it sustained Him. (Isaiah 59:16)
When God saw there was no intercessor He supplied the need. He sent Jesus:
For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. (I Timothy 2:5)
. . . It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. (Romans 8:34)
Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto
God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:25)
My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous. (I John 2:1)
An advocate in a court of justice is a legal assistant or counselor who pleads another’s cause. Intercession in spiritual warfare is prayer to God on behalf of another person. Sometimes this intercession is made with understanding . You intercede in your own native language:
I exhort therefore, that first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men.
For kings, and for all that are in authority. . . (I Timothy 2:1-2)
At other times, intercession is made by the Holy Spirit. It may be with groanings
resulting from a heavy spiritual burden. It may be in an unknown tongue. It may be
intercession for another or the Holy Spirit making intercession for you . When this
happens, the Holy Spirit speaks through you praying directly to God and according to the will of God. You do not understand this type of intercession:
Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities; for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. (Romans 8:26)
THE MODEL PRAYER
During the earthly ministry of Jesus His disciples once came to Him with an interesting request:
. . . one of His disciples said unto Him, Lord, teach us to pray. . . (Luke 11:1)
The disciples did not ask how to preach or perform miracles. They did not seek lessons on how to build lasting relationships. They did not inquire regarding the wonders of physical healing. They asked to be taught how to pray. What created this desire? It was the visible effects of prayer in the life and ministry of Jesus. The disciples had witnessed the powerful results of this spiritual strategy in action .
Read the model prayer on the next page and observe the various types of prayer we have discussed:
Our Father, which art in Heaven, Hallowed be they name.
Praise and worship
|Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in Heaven.||
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation , but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.
Praise and worship
HOW TO PRAY
Look up each of the following references in your Bible. These Scriptures teach you how to pray:
-Prayer is to be made to God: Psalms 5:2
-Empty repetition is forbidden, but earnest repetition is not: Matthew 6 :7; Daniel 6: 10; Luke 11:5-13; 18:1-8
-You sin by neglecting to pray for others: I Samuel 12:23
-Pray with understanding (in a known tongue): Ephesians 6:18 -Pray in the Spirit: Romans 8:26; Jude 20
-Pray according to the will of God: I John 5:14-15 -Pray in secret: Matthew 6:6
-Quality rather than quantity is stressed. Prayer is not successful because of much speaking : Matthew 6:7
-Pray always: Luke 21:36; Ephesians 6:18 -Pray continually: Romans 12:12
-Pray without ceasing: I Thessalonians 5:17
-Pray to the Father in the name of Jesus: John 15:16 -With a watchful attitude: I Peter 4:7
-According to the example of the model prayer: Matthew 6:9-13 -Pray with a forgiving spirit: Mark 11:25
-Pray with humility: Matthew 6:7
-Sometimes accompany prayer with fasting: Matthew 17:21 -Pray fervently: James 5:16; Colossians 4:12
-Pray with submission to God: Luke 22:42
-Use the strategies of binding and loosing in prayer: Matthew 16:19
WHAT YOU SHOULD PRAY FOR
-The peace of Jerusalem: Psalms 122 :6
-Laborers in the harvest: Matthew 9:38
-That you enter not into temptation: Luke 22:40-46
-Them that despitefully use you (your enemies): Luke 6:28 -All the saints : Ephesians 6:18
-The sick: James 5:14
-One for another (bearing each others burdens): James 5:16 -For all men, kings, and those in authority: I Timothy 2:1-4 -For our daily needs: Matthew 6:11
-For wisdom : James 1:5
-For healing: James 5:14-15
-For forgiveness: Matthew 6:12
-For God’s will and Kingdom to be established: Matthew 6:10
-For relief from affliction : James 5:13
PRAY THE PROMISES
Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. (James 4:3)
God answers prayer according to His promises. When you do not ask on the basis of these promises, your prayer is not answered. It is similar to how a father relates to his children . No parent commits to give his youngsters anything they want or ask for. He makes it clear that he will do certain things and not do other things. Within these limits the father answers his child’s requests.
It is the same with God. His promises form the proper basis for prayer. Learn what God has promised and pray according to the promises of God. One good way to do this is to go through the Bible and mark all the promises. Use your Bible when you pray and base your prayers upon these promises.
HINDRANCES TO PRAYER
Here are some things that will hinder your prayers:
-Sin of any kind : Isaiah 5 9:1-2 ; Psalm 66:1 8; Isaiah 1:15 ; Proverbs 2 8:9 -Idols in the heart: Ezekiel 1 4:1-3 :
-An unforgiving spirit: Mark 11:25; Matthew 5:23
-Selfishness, wrong motives: Proverbs 21:13; James 4:3 -Power hungry , manipulative prayers: James 4:2-3
-Wrong treatment of marriage partner: I Peter 3:7
-Self-righteousness: Luke 18:10-14
-Unbelief: James 1:6 -7:
-Not abiding in Christ and His Word: John 1 5:7: -Lack of compassion: Proverbs 21:13
-Hypocrisy, pride, meaningless repetition: Matthew 6:5; Job 35:12-13 -Not asking according to the will of God: James 4:3
-Not asking in Jesus’ name: John 16:24
-Satanic demonic hindrances: Daniel 1 0:10 -13; Ephesians 6 :1
-Not seeking first the Kingdom: It is only when you seek first the Kingdom of God that you are promised the other things: Matthew 6:33
-God has a higher purpose in denying your request: II Corinthians 12 :8-9
-When you do not know how to pray as you should, prayer is hindered . This is why it is important to let the Holy Spirit pray through you: Romans 8:26
WHEN NOT TO PRAY
It is important to learn how to wait in prayer for the Lord’s guidance and direction before acting . But it is equally important to know when not to pray . When God calls you to action, you must act–not continue to pray.
For example, at the bitter waters of Marah when Moses cried unto the Lord, God showed him exactly what to do to sweeten the waters. There was no need to wait further on the Lord in prayer. Moses was to act upon what God had revealed. The same was true of Joshua when he prayed about the terrible defeat of Israel at Ai. God revealed there was sin among the people of Israel. He actually told Joshua . . .
Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face? Israel hath sinned. . . Up, sanctify the people. (Joshua 7: portions of 10,11, and 13)
It was not the time to pray . It was time to act upon the direction given in prayer . Some people use prayer as an excuse to avoid involvement and acting upon what God has told them to do. Others continue to pray when God has already answered but they did not like the answer. Review the story of Balaam in Numbers 22 . Note especially verses 1 8-1 9. Balaam had no right to go to God with the same matter for God had clearly forbidden him to have anything to do with it (see verse 12 ).
COMBINING PRAYER WITH FASTING
Prayer is even more powerful when combined with fasting . Fasting , in the most simple definition , is going without food.
TYPES OF FASTS:
According to the Bible there are two types of fasts. The total fast is when you do not eat or drink at all . An example of this is found in Acts 9:9. The partial fast is when the diet is restricted . An example of this is in Daniel 10:3.
PUBLIC AND PRIVATE FASTING:
Fasting is a personal matter between an individual and God. It is to be done in private and not boasted about:
Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance:
for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast.
Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men
to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth
in secret, shall reward thee openly. (Matthew 6:16-18)
Leaders may call a public fast and request the whole church fellowship to fast:
Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly. (Joel 2:15)
THE PURPOSES OF FASTING:
There are definite spiritual purposes for fasting. It is important that we understand these, for if we fast for the wrong reasons it will be ineffective. Study each of the following references regarding the purposes of fasting. They reveal the great power of fasting in spiritual warfare. You fast:
-To humble yourself: Psalms 35:13; 69: 10
-To repent for sin: Joel 2:12
-For revelation: Daniel 9:2; 3:21-22
-To loose the bands of wickedness, lift heavy burdens, set the oppressed free, and break every bondage: Isaiah 58:6
-To feed the poor, both physically and spiritually: Isaiah 58:7 -To be heard of God: II Samuel 12:16,22; Jonah 3:5, 10.
Fasting does not change God. It changes you. God relates to you on the basis of your relationship to Him. When you change, then the way God deals with you is affected. You do not fast to
change God, because God does not change. But fasting does change how He deals with you. Read the book of Jonah for an example.
LENGTH OF THE FAST:
How long you fast depends upon what God speaks into your spirit. He may lead you to fast a short or lengthy time. Remember the story of Esau and Jacob? Jacob was originally making a meal for himself but denied himself in order to obtain the birthright. How much better off Esau would have been if he had fasted that one meal!