The Power of Prayer
Posted June 5, 2023
Table of Contents
The secret weapon of the believer is actually not that much of a secret at all; our secret weapon is prayer. If there is one thing that all of us need as we grow in this field that is our world is the power of prayer. Though prayer is powerful, there are many people that are skeptics of prayer; they speak ill of prayer with claims that prayer does not work. While some will make these claims, I stand before you today as a living testimony of a healthy and happy prayer life as I continue to grow in God’s garden.
The Secret Weapon
As we have seen in recent weeks, the field we live in is not conducive for growth and for bearing fruit; it is not conducive for trying to live a fruitful life. We have all experienced where one minute things can be going our way and in the next minute, the weather changes and everything seemingly goes down hill.
While some may doubt the power of prayer, the devil knows its power; he knows that prayer can uplift us and help us to endure. For this exact reason, the devil and his army work hard to create doubt about the power of prayer. Do you doubt the power of prayer today? Do you use the power of your secret weapon to combat Satan and overcome all of your tribulations?
In our scripture for today, Jesus shows us the power of prayer through the cursing of a fig tree (Mark 11:12-14). A day after cursing the fig tree, Jesus and the disciples returned to its location and Peter noticed that the tree had withered away and dried up from its roots (Mark 11:20-21).
Now, scripture tells us that this particular fig tree had fully bloomed, out of season, and had the appearance of being a healthy fig tree. So, a hungry Jesus approached the tree expecting to see its fruit but, for whatever reason of nature, there were no figs (Mark 11:13). As we have seen in my recent sermons, we know that a fruitless tree is not pleasing to the Lord — God doesn’t want us to be like this fig tree.
So, Jesus took this moment to teach the disciples about the power of prayer. Jesus explained to the disciples in our key verse that they had the power to also do what may seem impossible; they could move mountains (Mark 11:23). Because all of us who genuinely follow Christ today are His disciples as well, I feel I must ask: Do you realize that you have the power to move mountains?
Now, we should understand that Jesus was not talking about us being able to move physical mountains. Jesus was speaking about the power of prayer and prayer is spiritual. So, to be clear, Jesus was speaking about moving spiritual barriers (obstacles) that will block and hinder you in bearing much fruit.
Prayer, I want you to understand, is so powerful that it can help you to break through and overcome those barriers. To the Corinthians, Paul wrote, “though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God (2 Cor. 10:4-5).
After Jesus first chose the twelve, one of the first things He taught them was how to pray to the Father. Prayer, again, is so powerful that we are repeatedly encouraged throughout scripture to diligently pray to the Lord. We are constantly encouraged to pray because we need its power to stand strong as we wrestle against principalities, powers, rulers of darkness, and spiritual hosts of wickedness that are everywhere, including heavenly places (Eph. 6:11-18).
To think, the skeptics believe they can stand and overcome our true enemies without prayer and the Lord. Who are you to overcome the spiritual enemies? What power do you have on your own?
First Key for a Happy Prayer Life
Again, I tell you that I am a living testimony of one that uses the power of prayer and has been and continues to be favored and blessed by God. So, why has the Lord answered my prayers but you may feel like He doesn’t answer your prayers? Is it because there is something special about me? Absolutely not. So, what is it? Why does God move on my behalf?
Must have faith
In order for you to enjoy a healthy and happy prayer life, the very first thing we see Jesus say to the disciples about moving mountains is to “have faith in God (Mark 11:22).” Jesus then said, “whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them (Mark 11:24).”
Sadly, so many prayers have fallen dead because they have been prayed with a lack of faith. The writer of the book of Hebrews wrote, “without faith it is impossible to please [God], for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Heb. 11:6).”
The faith that has the power to move mountains, we must understand, is faith that lives in total submission to God, His will, and His way. Total submission to God requires one to put God first before themselves. In complete submission to God, there is complete obedience, commitment, and trust in the Lord. Think about this: God is faithful to us in submission, yet many of us aren’t faithful to Him but expect Him to move on our behalf?
There comes great difficulty for many of us to live in total submission to God. Why? Because many of us view this submission as subservience. With subservience comes the thought of one not having free will. I don’t know if you will recall this but earlier this year, we saw where God created us in His image and likeness; He created us to think for ourselves and to have free will.
Cannot have doubt
Everyday we live is a choice of either being obedient or disobedient. Rather than living in submission to the Lord, many choose to live in submission to themselves believing that they are living free. The whole they are living in submission to themselves, they are living in the bondage of sin and their roots are drying up like the withered fig tree.
Many people expect prayer to “work” for them but their faith is either incomplete or simply nonexistent because they are not living in total submission to God. Some are of a mindset where they trust themselves more than they trust God and what He can do. Rather than wait on the Lord, some of us doubt that God heard our prayer and is moving on our behalf.
Now, where does this doubt come from? This doubt typically enters the heart through affliction and tribulation; we tend to begin to fear in times of great struggle rather than trust the Lord. The mindset of doubt and fear can lead to a spirit of defeat and despair. As you have heard me say before, one can become paralyzed when the spirit of fear and despair settles within their heart.
In his letter, James wrote that those who pray while doubting shouldn’t think that they will ever receive anything from God (Jas. 1:6-7). To the skeptic that says prayer “doesn’t work”, I say to you that you’re right; you will never enjoy a healthy and happy prayer life because of your doubt. God doesn’t hear the doubter’s prayer, but rather, He listens to the believer’s prayer!
So, we must be confident in the Lord and we must be confident in prayer. As John said in his first epistle, we must be confident that if we ask anything according to God’s will, He will hear us. You and I must be confident that we have the petitions that we asked of the Lord (1 John 5:14-15). What John wrote is exactly what Jesus said to the disciples; we can move mountains but one must “have faith in God.”
Understanding How Prayer Works
Now, in total submission to God, there are more things for us to understand when it comes to enjoying a healthy and happy prayer life where God listens to our prayers and blesses us with our hearts desires.
Asking for the world
Many of those that doubt the power of prayer do so because they believe that God does not give them what they have asked for. Many people tend to look around at what others have and wonder where their blessing from God is. Rather than living in submission to God, many tend to live in submission to their lusts and passions.
With a mindset for the world, many people pray to obtain the riches of the world and great wealth – this is the desire of their hearts. Jesus has already warned us about mammon and serving the Lord. Jesus said that one cannot serve two masters because He will love (submit) himself to one and despise the other; we cannot serve mammon and also serve the Lord (Matt. 6:24).
Now, many of us look at Jesus’ statement of “whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them” and we run with the “whatever” in a lack of understanding. Yes, God will give us the desires of our heart but I feel some clarity must be brought to our hearts with this statement from Christ. We must take a look at the surrounding context of the ‘whatever’ that Jesus was speaking about.
In the surrounding text, Jesus was disappointed with a fruitless fig tree and had spoken to the disciples about the power to move mountains. The believer is supposed to bear much fruit in the world; we are to bear fruit that is holy and righteous. However, being fruitful, as we have seen, can come with great struggle for which we will need help.
Prayer is our line of communication to the Lord for His helping hand! We ought to be praying to the Lord not for selfish gain, but rather, when we need help to overcome our hindrances. Instead of praying just for ourselves to prosper in this world, we ought to be praying to bear more fruit so that others can prosper as well. In the power of prayer, James said that prayer can save the sick and cover a multitude of sins (Jas. 5:15-20) – the holy and righteous fruit we bear can save souls.
We will recall from John’s gospel that Jesus said, “you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit (John 15:7-8).” God will always bless you and give you the desires of your heart if it will lead to you bringing Him glory. You and I must remember that the Lord planted us not to grow in our own selfish ambitions but to bear much fruit for all of those around us!
God’s answers to prayers
As I was taught and then learned for myself, God does listen to our prayers and He will answer yes, no, or wait. God’s answer to prayer is where the lack of understanding comes in because many believe that they are supposed to get whatever they asked for. Jesus, however, makes it plain that the prayers of doubt, lusts, and selfish ambitions go unanswered (God says no).
You can pray all day long about your wants but the Lord desires to supply your every need so that you can bear His fruit. As Jesus said when He taught the disciples how to pray, the Father knows our needs before we ask them (Matt. 6:8). The Lord knows our struggles in this world and desires for us to faithfully come to Him so that He can supply our every need and not end up being like a withered tree with no fruit.
So, when you ask of the Lord with a sincere desire to bear fruit and glorify His name in the world, He is not going to say no to you. The Lord will either give you an outright yes or He has a better plan in mind and will tell you to wait! Sometimes, the Lord’s yes is instantly revealed to us but a lot of the time we simply have to wait for our blessing.
Again, the skeptic will say that God never gives them what they want, and to them, I would ask: Is your supplication truly to glorify the Lord or to glorify yourself? I want you to understand today that God has no desire to give anybody the world so that they can be glorified by man. The Lord desires to give to us His heavenly kingdom so that He will be glorified!
Comfort Through Prayer
Do you trust the Lord to supply your every need so that you can be blessed and continue to be fruitful in the world? If you truly do trust the Lord then you must live in total submission to Him.
No, you may not be rich and yes, we may have struggles but trust the Lord. The Lord knows all about our struggles as Jesus told us that the world would hate us, and that we would face tribulation due to the devil’s persecution of us. Jesus told us these things so that we would not be dismayed but remain faithful. Through our prayer and faith in the Lord, we overcome (John 16:33).
Let us remember what was said in Psalm 1:1-3 about the trees of God. First: the trees of God will bring forth fruit in its season. This is important for us to understand because God’s trees don’t bring forth fruit all of the time! God’s trees bring forth fruit when the time is right and the Father will not be displeased.
We must understand that not every season will be a fruit bearing season, so we must not be dismayed when it seems like we aren’t flourishing. The skeptic will give up on God but we must not give up on the Lord – be of faith. Some seasons may seem slow, however, those seasons should be viewed as seasons of rest. Seasons of rest, I want you to understand, does not mean a season of halt. Be prayerful as during your season of rest, you are still growing.
As is said in Ecclesiastes 3:1, to everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven. Some seasons may be a season of struggle (tribulation). As James said, we should rejoice when our faith is tested and we should pray (Jas. 1:2-4). Let us trust in the power of prayer during those seasons.
As it is said about the trees of God, our leaves do not wither no matter the season when we abide by the rivers of God (Ps. 1:3). Regardless of how harsh the season of tribulation may be, the trees of God do not fear. Why? Because our leaves remain green because we are still in good health spiritually (Jer. 17:8).
Typically, we have a bad habit of judging ourselves by the fruit of others. However, I want you to stop! I want you to understand that your fruit is unique to you and God will bless you to bear much fruit during your season. Don’t judge your fruitfulness by the fruitfulness of others, because not all fruit is the same – not everyone’s fruit is holy and righteous!
I say to you today, in whatever season you may be in right now, do not fear, be prayerful. You should lean on your secret weapon – the power of prayer. Through prayer, you will overcome and move mountains. Through prayer, you will be fruitful and flourish in a hostile world. Trust in the Lord as He is always listening to and tending to your every need and request through sincere faith.