The Miracle Of Prayer
by David J. Stewart
God doesn't expect the impossible from us, He wants us to expect the impossible from Him.
It is disturbing to find so many people that fail to believe God answers prayer. Several top “authors” and so-called “professionals” have been interviewed on TV lately, claiming that prayer is a “great therapy” (as an end in itself). You never hear them mention God. It is sad that prayer has been diminished to the status of going to the park to watch the birds.
Prayer is not effective because it is a good therapy. Prayer is effective because there is an omnipotent (all powerful) God up in Heaven that hears and answers prayer! I am leery of bumper sticker theology. I see bumper stickers promoting about the “Power of Prayer,” but prayer is nothing without a powerful divine God Who hears and answers prayer. I believe in the “Power of God.”
Answered prayer can only happen by a miracle of God. A “Miracle” is defined in the Random House College Dictionary as “an event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a divine or supernatural cause.” In other words, GOD DID IT! Everything God does then is a miracle because His power is divine, not human or natural. When we pray, we are petitioning the Creator of the universe for a miracle. If God decides to grant our request, it can be nothing less than a divine miracle performed by an Almighty God.
Prayer is not to be taken lightly, because God just may give you what you ask. I remember a country song by Garth Brooks, “I thank God for unanswered prayer.” He had been praying as a youngster for God to give him a certain girl to be his wife. God didn’t answer his request. He sees the same woman many years later, and then thanks God that his prayers were never answered! So be careful what you pray!!!
Jesus never preached an all night sermon, but he prayed all night! Luke 6:12 says concerning Jesus, “He went out into a mountain to pray, and CONTINUED ALL NIGHT IN PRAYER to God.” Jesus' disciples could not even watch and pray for “ONE HOUR” (Matthew 26:40,41). Are we guilty of the same negligence in prayer? The Bible says Jesus “continued”; He simply started praying and kept on praying all night. Too many Believers center their life around the TV, not Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:21. Note: all Scriptures are quoted only from the preserved and inspired King James Bible).
Daniel Prayed Morning, Evening, and Afternoon
Daniel was also a man of prayer! “...he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he KNEELED UPON HIS KNEES THREE TIMES A DAY, AND PRAYED, and GAVE THANKS before his God, AS HE DID AFORETIME” (Daniel 6:10). Daniel had a prayer life. He was about 80 years old now and kept his windows open toward Jerusalem (about 600 miles away) because that’s where his heart was. Jerusalem was his home town. He had been taken into Babylonian captivity as a young lad and longed to be back with his own people again, in the city of his God.
Elijah, a Man Subject to Like Passions, Prayed and Received the Impossible
We too, are pilgrims passing through this old dark world, and we should open the windows of our heart in prayer towards Heaven (home). Daniel prayed morning, evening and afternoon! “Elijah was A MAN SUBJECT TO LIKE PASSIONS AS WE ARE, and HE PRAYED EARNESTLY THAT IT MIGHT NOT RAIN: and IT RAINED NOT on the earth by the space of three years and six months” (James 5:17). What a wonderful truth! Elijah was just a plain, common, everyday human being just like you and me; yet he obtained an answer to his prayer for something VERY BIG! That’s exactly why God is telling us about it, so we will be encouraged to do the same.
Prayer and Divine Healing
Even more wonderful is that God is telling us this as pertaining to physical illness and healing. “...PRAY ONE FOR ANOTHER, THAT YE MAY BE HEALED. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous (saved) man availeth (accomplishes) much.” The words “Effectual” and “fervent” are both words meaning “energy.” In other words, you really mean business and are sincerely pouring your heart out to God the best you know how for a miracle. “...the PRAYER OF FAITH SHALL SAVE THE SICK...” (James 5:15). God doesn't expect the impossible from us, He wants us to expect the impossible from Him. We simply need to pray and have “just enough” faith to keep on praying!
Prayer is asking, and asking is faith. It matters not where the faith comes from—a child, someone at church, mom, dad, a friend, a coworker, a spouse (faith is faith). More than likely it was the elders of the church who had the faith, but not necessarily. I'll tell you one thing, none of those phony bologna greedy televangelists have faith in God. Faith is obedience to the Scriptures, not making merchandise out of the poor and misfortunate who empty their pocketbooks hoping for a miracle.
It is Jesus Who healed the sick (Matthew 8:16,17). But keep in mind that the Bible does not promise healing for every sickness. In fact, it is quite rare, even in Bible times. Sometimes hundreds of years past without any miracles being recorded in the Bible. It is the wicked Charismatic Movement which has indoctrinated society to expect divine healing in every case. When healing doesn't come, people get angry at God, but it was greedy men and women who falsely led you to expect healing, when the Bible does not make such a claim. Since the fall of Adam, sickness and death have come upon all men, for all have sinned (Romans 5:12). It is important to remember this truth. God DOES heal at times, and open the barren womb; but it is at His will, and not ours.
Every person that Jesus ever healed eventually died. If God healed every Christian who was physically sick, then everyone would want to become a Christian for the wrong reasons. By not answering prayers, God puts our faith to the test. Many people, and I mean many, have turned away from trusting Jesus Christ, simply because they prayed and nothing seemed to happen.
Do you know what I have learned over the 30-years I have been saved? I have learned that God doesn't usually work in months, nor even years, but in decades. When Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, things went from worse to worst and he ended up rotting in an Egyptian prison for several years. All hope seemed lost. Ah, but God had a plan for Joseph, eventually elevating him to become governor over all of Egypt, second only to Pharaoh. I'm sure Joseph prayed often for things to get better while rotting in prison, but they didn't. It took decades for God's will to become evident.
In other words, it may seem like God is not hearing nor answering your prayers; but you must take God at His Word that He cares about you (1st Peter 5:7), bringing everything to Him in prayer (Philippians 4:6), and trusting Him to direct your paths in life as He so PROMISED (Proverb 3:5-7). The power of God rests in the PROMISES of God.
The Power of Prayer is Based Upon the PROMISES of God
The Bible says that prayers based upon lusts will not be answered (James 4:3). Proper prayer stays within the boundaries of God's revealed will in the Bible. The Bible contains over 7,000 PROMISES from God, some conditional, others unconditional. For example: God gave mankind the rainbow as a token of His PROMISE never to destroy the world again by flood. That is an unconditional PROMISE from God. An example of a conditional PROMISE is salvation. A person must believe on the name of the Lord to be saved (Acts 16:30-31). God won't save anyone who is a Christ-rejecter. We are not all God's children. Every person who denies that Jesus is the Christ is a liar on their way to the Lake of Fire for ever (1st John 2:22; Revelation 20:11-15).
Jesus told us to SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES in John 5:39. By doing so we learn about the PROMISES of God, and claim them, and trust God once we meet the condition that applies. Hence, the Bible commands us to pray about EVERYTHING in Philippians 4:6, so that we can have the peace that passeth all understanding in verse 7. That peace is believing that God keeps His PROMISES, and won't let us down. If we have done our part, then we must rest in the character and integrity of God that He keeps His Word. This is why Psalm 138:2 says that God magnifies His Word above all His name, because God's name is only as good as His Word (i.e., keeping His PROMISES).
I know I am saved beyond any shadow of a doubt because God PROMISED eternal life before the world began (Titus 1:2) to WHOSOEVER believes upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God (John 20:31; Acts 10:43). Eternal life is a PROMISE from God to them who believe. It is not a reward to the diligent, nor something to be achieved by self-righteousness (Isaiah 64:6). No, salvation is the gift of God, paid for by the precious, literal blood of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ (1st Peter 1:18,19).
Asking is faith in itself. One would not ask God for something without at least some degree of faith. Christ is alive today!Go to Him in prayer now believer, and pout your heart out to God. If you are not saved, then you have no right to the throne of grace; but every born-again believer who is in Christ Jesus is encouraged to “COME BOLDLY unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
How Often Should We Pray
The Bible says that God already knows what we need before we ask (Matthew 6:8). Unsaved religious heathens (2nd Timothy 3:5) think they'll be heard by God because they recite long chants (Matthew 6:7). Jesus prayed all night in Luke 6:12; yet Jesus said not to pray long prayers as the heathen do in Matthew 6:7. Why the seeming contradiction? It's quite simple. Jesus often prayed alone as every believer should have a quiet place away from the hustle and bustle of life; but Jesus only prayed all night on one occasion that I found in the Scriptures, and that was on the night before He chose His 12 Apostles (Luke 6:12-13). Jesus prayed every day no doubt, as did Daniel 3-times a day; but it was only before a very important event that Jesus prayed at length. This is our example to follow.
The Bible teaches that if a believer is afflicted, whether physically or emotionally in pain, or both, then we ought to pray. In these Last Days, in view of the perilous times in which we live (2nd Timothy 3:1-5), I believe believers ought to pray very much. As I grow older I feel compelled to pray more, realizing just how insignificant and powerless I am to accomplish anything without the Spirit of God (Zechariah 4:6). My ministry means absolutely nothing if God's Spirit is not at work in the hearts of my web visitors. I pray daily for God's Spirit to bless my labors and influence lives for eternity.
We ought to pray without ceasing (1st Thessalonians 5:17), meaning on a regular basis. Our daily life and all the decisions we make should be bathed in prayer; instead of being saturated with TV, radio, newspapers, gossip, books, and magazines. All these things will take us away from the things of Jesus Christ as Philippians 2:21 states. The only way you are going to grow in the Lord is to spend some quality time ALONE with God and the Word of God, praying and searching the Scriptures. You can never come back to God because He has never left you. You may leave God, but He is always faithful and by your side (Hebrews 13:5). Even the vilest sinner has God close by, watching them, pondering their every thought (Proverb 24:12). But if you go to Hell in your sins, you will feel the absence of God, suffering eternal loneliness from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power (2nd Thessalonians 1:9).
An Amazing Truth About Prayer
Now here’s a heart warming truth in Acts 12:1-16. Wicked King Herod had just killed James the Apostle “with the sword,” probably by beheading. Herod saw that “it pleased the Jews.” The Jews were a wicked, rebellious people and most hated Christ. They demanded that the Roman government crucify Jesus, and they did! The persecution continued. Steven was brutally murdered by the Jews in Acts 7:54-60. Jesus, Steven and James had been slain by the Jews, who would be next? Herod now had Peter bound in prison and looked forward to killing him too. “...but PRAYER WAS MADE WITHOUT CEASING of the church unto God for him” (Acts 12:5).
Guess what? A miracle happened! God answered their prayers and sent an angel to rescue Peter—divine power at work!After Peter was freed, the angel departed. Now Peter comes to the house where everybody was still praying for him (vs. 12). He knocks on the door and Rhoda asks who it is. When she heard Peter’s voice, she was so happy that she ran to tell the others and forgot to open the door! They told Rhoda “THOU ART MAD.” Your nuts! Crazy! Peter was still outside knocking. The Bible says when all those who had been praying opened the door, “THEY WERE ASTONISHED” (vs. 16). “Astonished” means “to put out of wits.” In other words, their minds were amazed!
Here’s the beauty of this truth—even though this group of believers didn’t have much faith, God still answered their prayers. They had so little faith that when God did answer their prayers, THEY DIDN'T BELIEVE IT! Wow! What an encouragement to pray! Praying is faith in itself! If you have JUST ENOUGH FAITH to pray (ask) God for something, that’s all the faith God requires. What a Savior! Do you have doubts? Did you know that the more doubt you have, the greater is your faith—as long as you act on the faith! Faith is believing, in spite of the doubts. No matter how much you may doubt that God will answer your prayers, if you simply ask—that’s all the faith needed for your prayer to be answered! The more doubts you may have, the greater is your faith if you simply obey the Scriptures. God is not concerned about how much doubt you have, He is only concerned that you trust and obey. God is awesome!
Likewise, all the faith you need to become a born-again believer is JUST ENOUGH. If you have “just enough” faith to “call upon the name of the Lord” (Romans 10:13), you will be saved. “Call” means “to appeal unto.” Won’t you make that decision NOW to go to the Lord, believing upon Jesus Christ as your Savior? Admit to God that you’re a guilty sinner, deserving of hell-fire, believing on the name of Jesus for forgiveness. Let God work the miracle of salvation.
Prayer is truly a miracle, because we have a miraculous God in Heaven, our Maker, Who loves and cares about us.