The Power of a Believer’s Prayer

Yesterday, I found that there is biblical evidence that God does not hear (and even considers an abomination) the prayers of sinners who do not seek His will. That’s actually good news if we are His and are hoping to see His will done in our lives and in the world around us. I encourage you to read this companion message because I believe that these two lessons together can act as bookends (or guardrails) for a biblical understanding of prayer

Today, I’m looking at the power of prayer in the hands of a righteous man, a kingdom servant,  a child of God, a believer in their heart.

If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. – John 15:7 NKJV

If you abide in Me
Yes, let’s dig into this a bit. First, let’s consider if we abide in Him. Romans 8:1-11 tells us what it looks like to “abide in Christ”. It emphasizes the difference between carnal minded people of the world versus spiritually minded people who put their mind on the things of God. We must realize that these are two very different types of people. One loves the world and one loves God.

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who  live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. – Romans 8:5‭-‬10 NKJV

And this is partly a reminder of yesterday’s lesson if we focus on the words about carnal people – but if we examine our hearts and know that we are walking in the Spirit and not in the flesh (Galatians 5), then Romans 8 encourages us that we have the Spirit of Christ in us. So let’s either be encouraged that we have the Spirit of Christ in us, or let’s follow the instructions of Acts 2:38 to receive the promise of grace:

Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” – Acts 2:38‭-‬39 NKJV

And let’s remember that this is not a religious checklist of ceremonies, but that it involves repentance in our hearts. There is no power in the water of a religious baptism ceremony, it is supposed to be an outward testimony of the rebirth that has taken place on the inside.

and My words abide in you
So we must also ask, do His words abide in me?

C.H. Spurgeon has a wonderful and lengthy sermon that you can read here about “God’s Law in Man’s Heart” – but I’ll only include a portion that speaks to the truth of how, God’s word is written in my own heart:

the law is written in the heart by repentance working hatred of sin. Burnt children, you know, are afraid of the fire. Oh, what a horror I have had of sin ever since the day when I felt its power over my soul! It was enough to drive me mad when I felt the guilt of sin; it would have done so, I sometimes think, if I had continued much longer in that terrible condition. … And now, being set free from sin, can I go back to it? Some of you, my brethren and sisters, came to Christ with such difficulty that you were saved, as it were, by the skin of your teeth. You were like Jonah, you had to come up from the bottom of the mountains, and out of the very belly of hell you cried unto God. Well, that experience has made sin so bitter to you that you will not go back to it. The law has been written in your heart with the steel pen of repentance, and God has made sin to be a horrible evil to you.”

You see, the working of repentance, the activity of belief, the fruit of faith,  the result of having a righteous master is that we are “sanctified”. And that is an expensive and very religious sounding word that means that we are becoming like our new master, we are becoming like Christ in a process of rebirth as a new creation and refinement through the trials of this life. And we will love our new master and hate our old one, because they are enemies and oppose one another.

This builds something new inside our hearts, with the old fleshly desires and sin burned down because we realize they were traps baited with short lived things of the world that tempt those with no sight to work towards the eternal treasures. This new construction is built on love,  which springs forth a new construction and growth of a righteousness even greater than following a set of written laws – it is having new desires, a new heart, a new purpose as a child of God.

Yes, His Word is written in our hearts when we see sin as the enemy that it truly is and we hate those desires that we once loved.

When we still struggle as a slave to the temptation, is it because we long to be in the fire with our master? This is a question we must ask ourselves, because many have entertained the promise of a Savior,  while never accepting a new Lord over their lives. This is probably the most dangerous place a person can choose to dwell – living in denial (and I’m not talking about the river).

Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.  And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever.  Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. – John 8:34‭-‬36 NKJV

Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in  it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. – James 1:21‭-‬25 NKJV

so you will ask what you desire
Yes, we will ask for what we desire. And if the above items are already in line with the Lord, when we are desiring His will be done in our lives,  when we are in opposition to sin and wickedness, isn’t time spent speaking with the Lord a great opportunity to sit down and examine our desires? Isn’t that a great opportunity for us to learn about the true motives of our heart and for Him to help us and guide us so that we will ask for what we desire?

You see,  many times we may ask for things that we think that we want,  but those aren’t really what we desire because we haven’t thought about the underlying consequences. You see, a lot of the time,  we pray about things and circumstances that we think that we want to work out a certain way. But that is because we are sorry sighted with limited vision. We don’t understand the ramifications and consequences,  and many times he knows better.

You see, if I want to sell my house today and that is what I pray for – selling the house really isn’t what I desire. My desire is way down deeper than the house, even deeper than the finances,  even deeper than the plans that I have in store. You see,  I can dig deep enough until I become enlightened about what the desire is at the root that is truly driving my decision – and sometimes the Lord knows that my desire will best be fulfilled by a direction,  timing,  or plan that is outside of my own perspective. And sometimes He will teach us the dangers of a “want” when we faithfully examine the underlying desire that is fueling it.

Yes, He can help us ask for what we truly desire.

Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the  will  of God. And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. – Romans 8:26‭-‬28 NKJV

and it shall be done for you
The Word of God is true. He is Faithful and True. It is through His Word that He created everything, the breath of His very spirit and life poured out into the world. It shall be done for you. This is the point of prayer.

For the word of the Lord  is right, And all His work is  done in truth. He loves righteousness and justice; The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord . By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth. – Psalms 33:4‭-‬6 NKJV

The prayer of a believer, filled with the Holy Spirit and faithful in his desires, is powerful.

Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit. – James 5:16‭-‬18 NKJV

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