Prayer to many seems religious, old-fashioned, obsolete a superstitious ritual of the ancient past. But there is a POWER in fervent prayer known to very few a power that can work miracles!
MOST MODERNS have discarded such "superstitions" as faith, God, and prayer. God, to them, is unreal, vague or far off. Prayer itself is looked upon as a balm for the soul — a psychological trick to calm agitated emotions. But is prayer out of date? Is it just an emotional release? Just what IS prayer? And how can you make sure your prayers are answered?
The POWER of Prayer
When Abraham prayed, God heard, and gave him a son miraculously in his old age. When Moses prayed, an entire nation was saved from total destruction. When Joshua prayed, the sun stood still in the heavens. When Samuel prayed, an earthquake terrified an alien army and sent thousands of troops fleeing away. When David prayed, God' intervened and won battles for Israel. When Hezekiah prayed, the army of Sennacherib was destroyed in a single night, and the sun retreated ten degrees in the sky. When Shadrach, Meshach and Abed nego (Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah) prayed, God delivered them from a roaring furnace of fire. When Daniel prayed, he was delivered from hungry, voracious lions. When Jesus Christ prayed, the Father gave Him spiritual POWER to perform miracles, daily. He received power to heal the sick, give sight to the blind, and to raise the dead back to life! When the apostles called on God, in the name of Christ, earthquakes rent the earth, miracles of healing occurred, enemies of the truth were blinded or struck dead. Here was POWER! But what about you? Are your prayers answered? If not, why not?
Why So Little Power Today?
We live in an age of materialism. The world has lost the knowledge of God and the knowledge of the power of prayer. Consequently, we live in an age of very limited spiritual power. The churches, today, are empty shells. They, too, have forgotten the power of prayer and lost the knowledge of the true God! No wonder Jesus Christ, speaking prophetically of our generation today, said, "When the Son of Man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8) When people do pray today, so often it is just some sort of "religious exercise." They pray because they feel it is expected of them — a duty to per form. They don't expect an answer. If there were a tremendous answer from God, why, they would be speechless, dumbfounded! No wonder there is so little spiritual POWER in the world, today! How can YOU begin to pray more effectively — with more success — more POWER — more results?
What Prayer Is
First, let's understand just what prayer is. The most often used Hebrew word for prayer in the Old Testament is tephillah and means "intercession, supplication." It comes from the word palal, which means "to judge, entreat, intercede, pray, make supplication." The literal meaning of the word, in the Hebrew, is "to prostrate oneself," or "to bow down." Prayer, then, is simply intercession with God — or earnest, intense supplication. It is done in an attitude of humility, contrition and deep respect. Since the word itself means "to bow down," the general way to pray is on one's knees. Most examples in the Bible show the usual position of prayer is on one's knees, bowing before God. The most important thing, however, is not the literal position (one can pray hanging upside-down in a well, if he needs to!), but the ATTITUDE of humility, reverence and respect for God! Supplication means to "make a humble entreaty, to ask for earnestly and humbly." To entreat means "to ask earnestly or urgently, intercede, plead." All these definitions are contained in the one word "prayer." To most people today, "prayer" conjures up in their minds an act of sanctimonious piety, and reciting a psalm or liturgy. Such an idea is far from the truth, but the religions of this world have perverted even the true meaning of prayer, and turned it into a thing of ridicule and superstition! Prayer is NOT mental magic, or mumbo-jumbo. It is not a psychological "pep talk" that people give themselves to feel better. Prayer — true prayer — is communication with the Almighty God, and Jesus Christ at His right hand. Prayer is talking, in an attitude of humility, reverence, awe and respect, to GOD.' What is so weird or strange about that? But how should you pray? What should you pray for? How can you be sure your prayers are ANSWERED?
Obedience a Key
"God heareth not sinners" (John 9: 31). Sin is the transgression of God's Law (I John 3:4). Therefore, if you want to have your prayers heard and answered by God, you must first want to REPENT of any sins which separate you from God. Isaiah was inspired to write, "Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear" (Isa. 59:12). There is the crux of the matter. Most prayers are not heard and go unanswered because of SIN! If you purposely and maliciously harbor lawlessness and rebellion in your life, you will not be heard your prayers will be an abomination to God (Prov. 28:9; Psalm 109:7). But if a person departs from sin, and cries out to God from his heart, his prayer WILL be heard! Notice what an angel told Daniel: "Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, THY WORDS WERE HEARD..." (Dan. 10:12). Our God is very merciful — He will hear us from the moment that we begin to want to communicate with Him. In essence, then, a WHOLE HEARTED DESIRE is the only pre condition to prayer. God surely does not hear sinners who want to remain sinners — but God will quickly respond to sinners who want to change, even while they are yet sinners. And notice again, what God inspired the Apostle John to write, for us: "And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and DO those things that are pleasing in his sight" (I John 3:22). In order for your prayers to be heard, you must want to serve God with a sincere, faithful, devoted heart. You must strive to obey Him, and please Him in your actions, thoughts and words. Write for our free articles "What Is Real Repentance?" and "What Is a Real Christian?" They will show why so few, today, are close enough to God to have their prayers heard. But obedience, alone, is not enough. You must also have FAITH in God, in order to be heard!
The Power of FAITH!
The Apostle Paul wrote, "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must BELIEVE that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him" (Heb. 11:6). Jesus Himself gave a vital principle we must understand when He declared: "ACCORDING TO YOUR FAITH be it unto you" (Matt. 9:29). Lack of real, tangible faith is a prime reason millions of prayers go unheard — unanswered. James wrote, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him. But let him ask in FAITH, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord" (James 1:5-7). What about you? Do you have real FAITH in God? Faith is the belief or assurance that what God says in His Word is TRUE — that God will do that which He has promised. How can you obtain more faith? There are two vital keys to increasing faith. "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Rom. 10:17). If you study God's Word, and drink in of it daily, you will become stronger in faith; you will learn more intimately how God's many promises contained in His Word apply to YOU. Faith is a gift (Gal. 5:22-23). It is not an emotion which you must work up yourself, struggling and agonizing to attain. You don't have to strive to have faith in God. It is a gift of the Holy Spirit! As a person turns away from sin, yields his life to God, and surrenders to His government, God will give him the indwelling power of His Holy Spirit — the Spirit that imparts faith, the very faith Jesus Christ had (Gal. 2:16, 20; Phil. 3:9). If you desire more of God's Spirit, and more faith, then go before God's throne and ask Him for it. Jesus said, "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you" (Luke 11:9).
Walk With God
Another secret of powerful prayer is walking with God. Abraham walked with God. So did Noah, Moses, Elijah and David. They came to know God intimately. They obeyed God faithfully, loyally. Abraham kept all God's commands, statutes, laws and ordinances (Gen. 26:5). These men prayed to God often. They spent long hours in prayer, communing with God. But those people who "pray" today, usually spend mere minutes (or seconds) in "prayer." No wonder they have no spiritual POWER! If you want power in your prayers, and spiritual POWER in your life, then you must walk with God. Notice what the Prophet Micah wrote: "He hath showed thee, a man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk HUMBLY with thy God?" (Micah 6:8) Walking with God means spending time with Him — instead of with material things of the world. It involves TIME spent studying His Word, learning His truth, meditating on His principles and laws, and praying to Him for greater understanding, wisdom, guidance, and faith. How can you WALK WITH GOD? God will not walk with the proud, haughty, high minded and conceited. He is far off to them (I Peter 5:5). He walks with the HUMBLE in heart and mind (verses 56). The proud will not have their prayers answered (Luke 18:9-14). But notice. God says, "... to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite [humble] spirit, and TREMBLETH at my word" (Isa. 66:2).
HOW Should You Pray?
The first point to understand is that prayer is for our benefit. We should look forward to talking with our Creator. Consequently, we must never allow prayer to decay into a meaningless ritual. So there can be no set rules for when to pray, how often to pray or how long to pray. A fervent, deeply felt short prayer is obviously much better than a lukewarm, lazy, long one. Nonetheless we do need examples to follow. And God has provided them. When should you pray? Jesus Christ rose up early in the morning to pray and commune with His Father. "And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed" (Mark 1:35). The early morning hours, when all is peaceful and still, and your mind is uncluttered from the day's routine, is a wonderful time to spend in prayer. God wants us to give our best time to Him! Jesus spent long hours in prayer to His Father. One particular time when He was facing tremendous decisions and knew that He needed special wisdom and inspiration, He spent all night in prayer (Luke 6:12). In the days of Christ and the apostles, it was customary to pray at certain times of the day — called "the hours of prayer" (Acts 3:1). There were three such times during the day — in the morning, at noon, and in the evening. David declared: "Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice" (Psalm 55:17). The Prophet Daniel, a man greatly beloved in God's sight, prayed three times a day, even in the face of death! Knowing that the Persian government had passed a law against prayer, "... 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" (Dan. 6:10). Why was Daniel such a wise, useful, effective servant of God? Where did he get the understanding and wisdom for which he was famous (Dan. 1:17; 2:19-23)? God gave him wisdom and understanding, because Daniel was faithful, walked with God, sought His guidance at all times, and prayed regularly. Daniel made fewer mistakes in his work, accomplished much more that was worthwhile because he stayed close to God and sought Him REGULARLY! He did not allow daily duties, business, or physical activities to crowd out the time he spent with God in prayer, as many are prone to do today. If YOU lack wisdom and understanding, it may well be due to your failure to pray constantly, regularly, and often to your Maker and Ruler in heaven!
Wrestling in Prayer
Most prayers today are namby-pamby, weak, insipid, and ineffectual. They accomplish nothing at all and are a complete waste of time. Wishy-washy, spineless, weak-kneed, "milk toast" prayers, lukewarm prayers never have achieved miraculous results, and never will! When you pray, do you put your heart into your prayers? Do you pray fervently, earnestly, pouring out your heart before His Throne of Grace? Are you filled with ZEAL when' you pray? Are you motivated with spiritual energy and alertness? Can you imagine the insult it would be if you appeared before the President of the United States, in a private audience in the White House — and you became drowsy, droopy eyed, and began to mumble your words and soon fell asleep? How much more disrespectful is it of our heavenly Father when we come before His glorious, awe inspiring throne and mumble our words while we're half asleep! When Elijah prayed, he prayed FERVENTLY, and God caused a great drought to come on the land. Later he prayed fervently, and God brought rain in abundance. James wrote, "The effectual FERVENT prayer of a righteous [obedient] man availeth much" (James 5:16). The original Greek word for "fervent" is zelos and means "heat, zeal, ardor." Moffatt translates this verse, "the prayers of the righteous have a POWERFUL EFFECT." The Amplified Bible says, "The EARNEST (HEART FELT, CONTINUED) prayer of a righteous man makes TREMENDOUS POWER AVAILABLE — dynamic in its working." One of the keys to powerful effective prayer, therefore, is ZEAL. Hannah wept sorely when she prayed. She was really zealous. She poured out her heart in her prayer to God — AND HE LISTENED! As a direct result, God opened her womb, and gave her a son who became the Prophet Samuel (I Sam. 1:9-15). When Christ prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, He was so earnest and intense that "being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground" (Luke 22:44). Christ's prayers were HEARD (Heb.5:7). An example of how to "get through" to God is found in the book of Genesis. Perhaps you never thought of it this way before. Jacob was in a mental quandary. He was returning home to his native land, but was fearful of his brother Esau. With humility, Jacob confessed he was not worthy of God's mercy, but prayed for deliverance (Gen. 32:9-12). That night, Jacob was left alone, "and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him. And he said, let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. And he said unto him, what is thy name? And he said, Jacob. And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel [that is, a prince of God]: for as a prince hast thou POWER WITH GOD and with men, AND HAST PREVAILED" (Gen. 32:24-28). Notice this account carefully. Jacob wrestled all night with this person — the One who became Christ (verse 30). He did not give up. He was persistent, tenacious in wrestling. He was like a bulldog he wouldn't — let go. Seeing this characteristic in Jacob, Christ changed his name to "Israel," meaning "a contender with God," "a prince of God," "striver with God," "he who strives with God." Jacob wrestled all night, showing he had power — he was not a spineless jelly fish. He was tenacious — determined. He wrestled until he PREVAILED! God blessed him for his tenacity and perseverance — his "never give up," "never quit" attitude. This principle also applies to prayer. Jesus Christ said men should pray "and not to faint." Moffatt puts it, "never losing heart." The Amplified has it, "not to turn coward — faint, lose heart and give up" (Luke 18:1).
NEVER Lose Heart!
Many lose heart in prayer. If the answer doesn't come right away, they give up. They quit praying. But Jesus said men ought ALWAYS to pray to — importune God, persisting, persevering, continuing in prayer, and NEVER losing heart. Jacob's example should inspire us to put our hearts in our prayers, to be tenacious, and to wrestle as long as it is necessary in prayer. This kind of wrestling is not selfish. God will not hear selfish prayers. But often God does put us to the test, to see if we have "staying power," stamina, endurance — to see if we are willing to endure patiently until the answer DOES come! God does not always answer prayers immediately. But He knows best. He knows what we need the most. He promises — and He cannot break a promise — to provide our every need (Phil. 4:19) in Christ. Therefore, when the answer does not come right away, we should not grow discouraged, give up or lose faith. If we KNOW what we ask is right and good, then we should continue praying, faithfully, fervently, persistently — until God DOES give us the answer! If what we ask is good and is according to God's will as revealed in His Word, then we can have complete CONFIDENCE that the answer is on its way! As the Apostle John wrote, "And this is the CONFIDENCE that we have in him, that, if we ask anything ACCORDING TO HIS WILL, he heareth us: and if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him" (I John 5:14-15).
Pray With POWER!
You can pray with power. Your prayers can get remits! Through your prayers, MIRACLES can be accomplished for the Work of God! Your prayers may influence countless thousands to hear The WORLD TOMORROW broadcast, to read The PLAIN TRUTH, to study, TOMORROW'S WORLD and to write for the Ambassador College Correspondence Course. Your prayers may lead thousands to become Coworkers together with us in this great end time Work! Your powerful, persistent, humble, FERVENT prayers can WORK MIRACLES! Jesus Christ said, "I can of mine own self do nothing" (John 5: 30), but He added, "... the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works" (John 14:10). Christ went on, "Truly, truly I tell you, he who believes in me will do the very deeds I do, and STILL GREATER DEEDS than these. For I am going to the Father, and I will do whatever you ask in my name, that the Father may be glorified in the Son: I will do whatever you ask me in my name" (John 14:12-14, Moffatt). Jesus meant what He said. Is He working through YOU, as His instrument? Is He performing His same great Work through you — through your prayers on the behalf of His Work? Are you holding up your part in the great Commission God has given us, today?
What You Can Do
When ancient Israel came out of Egypt, they were attacked by fierce Amalekites. Moses sent troops under Joshua to fight the enemy raiders. Meanwhile, Moses climbed to the top of a promontory overlooking the scene of battle, carrying the rod of God in his hands. "Whenever Moses raised his hand, then Israel won, whenever he lowered his hand, then Amalek won. "As the hands of Moses grew tired, they put a stone below him, on which he sat; Aaron and Hur held his hands tip, one on one side and the other on the other side, so that his hands remained steady till sunset, while Joshua laid Amalek low, giving no quarter" (Ex. 17:11-13, Moffatt). This example was written for us! Are you holding up the hands of God's servants today, in your fervent, powerful, earnest, zealous PRAYERS? Are you doing your part in prayer and personal dedication and sacrifice? Are you praying faithfully for God's servants around the world — His ministers, writers, researchers, and all those fulltime in His great Work? Are you praying for those who publish, print, and mail The PLAIN TRUTH and TOMORROW'S WORLD? Do you pray that God will send more Coworkers into His great Work so we can accomplish fully the great Commission God has given us? Do you pray for more laborers, more helpers, more called and dedicated servants? Do you pray that God will give us peace so we can do His Work unhindered and unhampered? Do you pray for world leaders, so they will make decisions which will benefit the Work of the living God? Your prayers — yes, yours — can accomplish MIRACLES! They can have tremendous impact. They can have enormous effect for good. But it is up to you. It depends on you — your obedience, your faith, your humility, your zeal and earnestness, and your dogged perseverance! Make your prayers count! God's Work is waiting — and depending — on you!