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Conditions for Powerful Praying

Pastor Gary Buchman
Emmitsburg Community Bible Church

(8/25) "And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: "Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them, who by the mouth of Your servant David have said: ‘Why did the nations rage,

And the people plot vain things? The kings of the earth took their stand, And the And the rulers were gathered together Against the Lord and against His Christ.’ "For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done. Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, 30 by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus." And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness."

I would say that that was some powerful praying, wouldn't you? This was cluster or congregational praying. I believe it is still possible to pray like this and see God do some awesome things. I also believe that the Bible gives us some conditions for powerful praying. Its not by sending the preacher more money, (though that would answer some of my prayers, LOL), but the Bible does tell us the conditions that move God to answer what we pray for.

150 years ago, give or take, in Germany, a young divinity student came to faith in Christ. He was born again while studying for ministry. He changed his major from pastoral ministry, which would have netted him a lucrative position as a Lutheran Pastor in Germany, to becoming a Missionary. His father was outraged as he saw his own retirement going down the tubes if his son became a missionary. He threatened his son and said that he would cut off all financial support if his son did not complete pastoral studies. That young student swore that from that day on he would never depend on any man again for anything, and he never did. He only prayed. By the end of his life, as a pastor and missionary, in England of all places, he built 5 orphanages and cared for over 2000 orphans. His name was George Mueller. Story after story has been told of not having any food at all and still bringing the children to the table and giving thanks for the food they were about to receive when a knock would come at the door and a bread man would bring carts of day old bread or a milk wagon would break a wheel outside of the orphanage and need to unload the milk and cheese. George Mueller knew how to pray.

In 1954 a couple near Eugene Oregon, with 6 children regularly prayed this prayer. "Heavenly Father, if it is thy will-give us some way of serving you, a humble way, a way of thine own choosing that will glorify thy name, we petition thee, through thine own son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen." This family had just come to faith in Christ and the father had just had a severe heart attack. God heard that prayer and answered in a marvelous way. The couple began to serve in a local mission and started holding Good News Clubs in their home when they heard the President of World Vision, Bob Pierce, tell of the Korean war orphans; Amer-Asian children conceived by G.I.'s and Korean women that were being neglected after the Korean war. This family began to give $10 a month x 13 children and thought that, that was just not enough. They said, "let's give some children a home." It took an act of Congress to allow foreign adoptions, but Harry and Bertha Holt saw Congress pass the Holt Amendment and they went to Korea and brought 10 children home, 8 for themselves (already having 6) and 2 for their pastor. This brought national attention as people from all over the United States began to inguire about foreign adoption. In the last 60 years thousands upon thousands of children have been adopted and orphanages in other countries established because a family prayed. The Holts would end up selling their possessions and going to Korea to build a hospital, an orphanage and a rehab center for disabled children. Harry Holt is buried there as a national hero in Korea, because they prayed.

In the next few moments I want to give you several keys or conditions for powerful praying that I hope will dramatically change the way you pray and the results that will occur. Are you ready? I don't know if there is an order of priority, but here goes. Powerful praying starts with:

1. A Clean Heart – Psalm 66:18 says, "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me." Isaiah 59:2, "Your sins have hidden His face from you so that He will not hear." UN-confessed sin or UN-repentant sin in your life is a condition for God not hearing; that is, He hears, because He hears everything, but not with with the intent of responding to our prayers. The Bible gives us several examples of the sins that cause God to not respond.

  • Selfishness – James 4:1-3 – like asking to win the lottery
  • Idols – Ezekiel 14:1-3 (jobs, possessions, hobbies, TV, etc.)
  • UN- Forgiveness – Mark 11:25-26
  • Ignoring God's laws -Proverbs 28:9 (10 big ones)
  • Not caring about the poor – Prov. 21:13
  • Doubt in God's ability or desire – James 1:5-8; Mark 11:22-24
  • Not loving your wife or respecting your husband – 1 Peter 3:7

This is why our Lord taught us to pray for God's pardon when we pray according to the pattern of the Lord's Prayer and why 1 John 1:9 and Psalm 32:5 are so important. If you want intimacy with God and want God to answer your prayers you must have a clean heart or let Him cleanse your heart through your confession and repentence.

2. Consistent with His Will - 1 John 5:14-15 - When Jesus taught us to pray, He taught us to pray that God's will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Do you know what God's will is? Do you know what He wants done on earth? Let's take a few moments and list a few things:

  • care for the poor
  • love like Jesus
  • lost to be saved
  • gospel to be shared everywhere
  • our obedience to His commands, and will
  • our fear, faith, service, trust, etc.
  • our prayers
  • love and respect spouse
  • other

Is what I am praying for consistent with the will of God? Am I asking to be part of accomplishing God's will? The Acts 4 prayer was powerful because it was according to God's will. Now listen, that doesn't mean that every sick person is going to get well. Because God's will is for them to be saved and be assured that when ever death occurs it is okay, for they will be going home.

It also means, that I am going to trust Him even if the results are different than what I ask for. Can you do that? Jesus did, and Paul did (2 Cor. 12)

3. Commissioned to Serve Jesus - John 14:13-14; 16:23-28- Those who have, by their deliberate decision, chosen to follow Jesus are Christians; Christ followers, literally, little Christs. Jesus rescued us, and then left us here to continue His life and ministry, that is the purpose for the church. Matthew 28:18-20 says to, "go into all the world and make disciples of all nations."Here in John 14:12, He says that we would do greater works than He did, that is in scope, not magnitude. As a worldwide church we will multiply His ministry. That is His purpose for you. To enable us to acccomplish this He has given us 3 things.

  • His own Presence in His Holy Spirit
  • His Word or the Bible
  • His Authority in Prayer

That's what it means to pray in Jesus' name. It means to pray with the backing of His authority. It means that as we seek to continue His life and ministry we have the authority to requisition whatever we need to accomplish His mission. This is not a tack on for the end of a prayer to make it official (Like shave and a hair cut needs the two bits to be complete). To pray in Jesus name means to do business for Him with His authority, commissioned to carry on His life and minsitry.

4. Commanded to be Obedient - 1 John 3:22-24; Luke 6:27-49; 1 Sam. 15:22-23 While this is similar to seeking His will and having a clean heart, It means that I am being obedient in obeying God's commands and seeking His will in my life. I am using my giftedness to love God, serve others and reach the world in some way. Listen to me carefully, if you as a Christ follower are not serving God by serving people in some way, you are not being obedient to God. Being a Christian is joining Jesus to reach the world with grace and the gospel. Like the folks Jesus refers to in Matt. 25 and Isaiah 58. It means that I am praying with the desire to Love God with all my heart, to Love People as Jesus loves us and to Love the world that Jesus died to redeem. God honors the prayers of those who honor Him with their obedience in wanting to serve in His church and reach the needs of the community and the world.

5. Continuous in my Concern - Luke 11:5-10; 18:1-8- We know that God doesn't always answer our prayers instantly, though we wish that He would. We know that God knows all and is working all things togther for a good purpose and therefore, sometimes the answer is delayed for a while; maybe even years. But if all our ducks are in a row and we are convinced that this is God's will, as Jesus would have asked for, then God says, don't stop because the answer isn't immediate- keep asking, seeking, & knocking, be persistent. Jesus gave us two stories to encourage us to try to wear God out in our persistence (A man asking a neighbor for bread at mid-night [Luke 11], and a lady seeking relief from a judge [Luke 18]). May I also add here, that it means being willing to wait for God (Isaiah 30:18; 40:27-31; 49:23; Ps. 27:13-14).

6. Concerned with His Honor - John 15:7-8, 1 Cor. 10:31; John 14:13; Matt. 6:13; 1 Chron. 29:11- Will the things that I am praying for and about be for my honor and desire or will it result in God being honored? Will it cause people to look to God with gratitude and praise? Will God be exalted?

7. Confident of His Willingness - John 16:23-27; Mark 11:22-24; Luke 7:11-13- Jesus wasn't saying that we could move mountains without a bulldozer; neither He nor the Apostles ever did such a thing. Moving a mountain was a figure of speech for solving big problems or overcoming big or seemingly impossible obstacles. Jesus was saying that if you pray clean, as a commissioned follower of Jesus, concerned with His will, obedient to His word, concerned with His honor, we need to be confident of His willingness to answer our prayer. We are to have faith in His willigness, not faith in faith but faith in God and the impossible will be possible. If we only trust in what we can see and understand, what only seems logical, we will never move mountains. But if our confidence is in the One that says, "There is nothing impossible with God," we will see God do great things.

Dawson Trotman of the Navigator's discipleship ministry said, "I often ask Christians, 'What is the biggest thing you've asked God for this week?' I remind them that they are going to God, the Father of the universe, the one that holds the world in His hands. 'What did you ask for?'Did you ask for peanuts, toys, trinkets, or did you ask for continents?' I want to to tell you, its tragic, the little itsy bitsy things we ask of our almighty God. Sure nothing is to small, but neither is anything to big. Let's learn to ask for our great big God some of those big things He talks about in Jeremiah 33:3, 'Call unto me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things that you do not know.'"

  • Can God provide for your adoption?
  • Can God provide us a building?
  • Can God provide for a mission trip?
  • Can God help us reach a town for Jesus?
  • Can God forgive you?
  • Can God open closed doors and provide opportunities for you
  • Can God save you or someone you love?
  • Can God help us do ministry and serve Him and others?

Do you want to start praying powerful prayers like George Mueller or the Holts or the Disciples of Jesus. You can when we begin to pray His way. Prayer must be about accomplishing the will of God on earth, not getting my will done in heaven. We will be powerful when prayer is no longer for first aid or a wish list, but the intentional living out of our relationship with Jesus Christ.

Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman