Friday, September 13, 2013

Effectual, Fervent Prayer

The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.  (James 5:16b)

Luke, the beloved physician and converted believer in Jesus Christ told of a parable given by Jesus.  But before he shares the parable, he lets the reader know what he received from it:

And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;  Luke 18:1

Luke understood the power of prayer and that it should be coupled with faith.  Believers are told to use Jesus’ name in prayer to make requests of the Father.  

And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.  John 14:13-14

Prayer is a powerful spiritual tool which releases the power of God in the lives of believers.

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 in many different formats such as:

*  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

Prayer was a powerful tool in the life of Jesus.  He made prayer a priority.  He prayed any time of the day or night.

And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.  And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles;  (Luke 6:12-13)

His prayer took priority over eating and business 

In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat. But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of.  (John 4:31-32) 
In all of our ways, just as in Jesus' ways, prayer should accompany any event of importance.  Note the events in which Jesus prayed, i.e., 
*  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 & after feeding the 5,000 (Matthew 14:19,23; (Mark 6:41,46; John 6:11,14-15), 
*  at the feeding of the 4,000 (Matthew 15:36; 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 hour of 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) 
*  and for His followers (John 17)
*  He taught the disciples how to pray (Matthew 6:9-13)

Paul calls for believers to pray always with "all prayer" 

Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;(Ephesians 6:18) 

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 lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet 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 1-2).

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 11:5-10. The knocking level is the most intense level of spiritual warfare prayer. It is illustrated by Daniel’s persistence who continued to knock despite the fact he saw no visible results (Daniel 10).

We can take God at his word when he told the children of Isreal,

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.  2 Chronicles 7:14

Never give up on prayer; it works!  It requires faith in God and produces patience as we wait on Him.

This is so clearly illustrated in a parable given by Jesus of the widow who was persistent in her request before the judge who did eventually honor her request.  Jesus said of this parable,

And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?  
I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?  Luke 18:7-8

(Biblical Studies)



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