We have touched upon the power of prayer briefly in my last post, but here I want to go a little deeper and get a little more definition and practical application going. I want to start out by looking at a question asked in the book of Job…
What is the Almighty, that we should serve Him? And what profit do we get if we pray to Him?’
So, the question we are dealing with here specifically, is – how do we profit, or benefit, from spending time with God in prayer? We find part of this answer (and the main one that we are addressing in this post today), here…
Seek the LORD and be empowered; seek His presence continually!
We find in other passages (particularly in Psalms) that God is our strength, but God had put things together so that we have to go seeking after Him for that strength, otherwise we would not be motivated to spend time with Him. Some will take argument with that statement…but when we do a scientific examination on this subject and question people about their prayer life, we find that even though people claim to love God, that love is not enough to motivate them to pray.
This brings us to an overwhelming observation; Jesus said…
Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in Me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.
What are the “works” that Jesus was doing? He was healing people, casting demons out of people, opening blind eyes and unstopping deaf ears, He was raising the dead and teaching people “the way of God.” So, if He said that those who believe will be doing the same things, why don’t we see these things taking place around us like they did in the book of Acts?
Part of the reason is that many people today believe a lie – they believe the Calvinistic stand that miracles ceases when John the Apostle died. They believe that God does not work through men today in the same way that He did in the gospel age, and most of them came to that conclusion because they didn’t see miracles taking place in their age. I can’t see air, either…but I am not dull enough to choose not to believe it just because I can’t see it.
If Jesus said that believers would do these things, and we have thousands of people who claim to be believers, yet we see precious few (if any) of those believers performing miracles…then either Jesus lied, or there is more to the story. I do not believe that Jesus is a liar, so that only leaves one other explanation…there is more to the story than what we currently understand. The answer to this problem is…prayer.
Christians today – in America, anyway – seem to fail in their understanding of exactly what prayer is, what it does, and how it operates within the spiritual sphere of things. Just as the Psalmist states, we receive spiritual power from God by being in His presence in prayer. If we fail to spend adequate time in His presence through prayer, then we are powerless, inept, and impotent so as to do anything spiritual. What I mean is this…
If you don’t spend enough time in God’s presence through prayer:
You won’t be able to walk in the Spirit.
You won’t be able to walk in righteousness or holiness.
You won’t be able to crucify the flesh with its lusts and passions.
You won’t be able to walk in sanctification in your daily life.
You won’t be able to raise the dead or cast demons out of people.
You won’t be able to heal anyone, or to even love on certain people.
You won’t be able to change and be the person God wants you to be.
You will never be free from the addictions and hang-ups that you have in your life.
Because people in the past few decades have not known or understood the power of prayer, they have tried to do these things (and more) on their own…through having others pray for them, through programs and Christian self-help books and videos, etc. And when none of these things work (for none of them are empowered by the Spirit of God), then the person . . . in desperate frustration . . . turns to cling to one of the most dastardly tactics in false doctrine that satan has ever successfully implanted within the church. They begin to cling to the “grace is all and all” doctrine.
People in the Church who I call “grace-mongers” teach that grace is the all-in-all of God’s plan for salvation…they are playing right into satan’s hands when they do so. Grace does not cover everything, grace is not limitless, grace does have boundaries – and they are the boundaries which God has set, not man. If grace had no boundaries, then Paul could not have written that some of the Galatians had “fallen from grace.”
These people – who have tried everything (but themselves praying) – now come to believe that it has nothing to do with them. They come to believe that grace will take them home into the consummation of eternal life in heaven…and if they don’t wake up from this fantasy world, one day they will wake up in hell. God gave us prayer so that we could come to Him and spend time with Him in His presence. He gave us prayer so that we could spend time in His presence and receive the power and strength that we need in order to do all the spiritual things that we must do in order to walk with Him.
Grace does not cover our failure to walk in the Spirit, for Paul is adamant that if we fail to walk in the Spirit, being led by God’s Spirit, then we are not God’s children (Rom. 8:1-14). Grace does not cover our failure to walk in holiness and sanctification, and the Scriptures demonstrate that if we fail in this area, that we will end up in hell (Heb. 12:14). Grace does not cover our failure to strive to walk in obedience to God – it will cover our mistakes, but it will not cover a blatant disregard to even try to walk in that obedience…thinking that grace will cover it (I John 3:10).
Grace does NOT negate, nor take the place of, nor can it produce in us the things that only PRAYER can. The doctrine of over-extensive grace that these “grace-mongers” preach and teach effectively cause you to slip on the rocks and fall off of the narrow path, the only path that leads to heaven. This is how basic prayer is…
…you can’t even get saved – even by grace and faith – until you PRAY.
…you don’t have an intimate and personal relationship with God unless you are praying.
Prayer is much more than just intercession for others and praying for yourself. Prayer is communicating with God, spending time with Him just talking about things (and there are plenty of things that we can talk to God about – just as there are plenty of things that we can intercede for). There is no end to “prayer fodder”…that is, things that we can pray and talk to God about.
The main point of this blog entry, is that if you are not spending adequate time in prayer, in God’s presence, then you will never be able to do anything spiritual for God (and walking in obedience is a spiritual thing), just as Paul addresses here…
16 But I say, walk in the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the flesh wars against the spirit, in order to keep you from doing the spiritual things that you want to do.
Yes…you cannot do the spiritual things that you want to do if you are walking in the flesh, and you cannot stop walking in the flesh and begin to walk in the Spirit if you are not spending enough time in God’s presence in prayer so as to be empowered to do so.
It is as easy as that – yet so many people fail to understand this spiritual principle. Prayer equals receiving spiritual power, and because we have thousands of “Christians” who don’t spend more than 15 minutes a day in prayer…we have thousands of powerless, impotent, basically WORTHLESS servants of Christ walking all around this country (and others), that can’t even spiritually punch their way out of a wet paper bag.
Thus the reason for all of the admonitions in the NT to pray…pray without ceasing…pray constantly…abound in prayer. And all of the examples of prayer in the NT…where Jesus went up for all night on a regular basis for prayer…where the disciples gathered together for prayer…where the ministers and early church fathers consecrated themselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word.
And with that we open another can of worms here in the States…impotent preachers who don’t spend enough time in God’s presence in prayer to even be able to preach their way out of a wet paper bag. It does not matter how much a pastor studies the Word of God, if he does not spend enough adequate time with God in His presence through prayer, then his preaching will be dry and full of flesh rather than living a full of the Spirit. A preacher who preaches out of the flesh does nothing but slowly kills his congregation.
If it is hard to get started, then get together with others and have group prayer…get your prayer life primed in that group and then go home, shut your bedroom door, and begin praying on your own. When you pray, you enter into the very presence of God…the word for “seek” (darash) in the passage (Seek Yahweh and be empowered…) means to earnestly inquire from God through prayer and worship.
Begin to build your prayer life with God. To pray constantly means to pray several times a day…I started training myself to pray every hour on the hour, and chose different subjects to pray about for each time. I only started out praying 10-15 minutes at a time, but that adds up to over an hour a day…and pretty soon you will be praying for three hours a day and not even realizing it!