Power of Prayer
Power of Prayer to Change Lives
UGA Faculty Forum (be done by 1:05)
Welcome/great to be with you (tell a little about my journey? I am a graduate of UGA (back in 1983) and then the Lord led me to minister in MN, graduate school in IL and pastor in WI, but we moved back to GA 3 years ago and it is great to return to my southern roots. Thanks for being here and thanks for being a light for Christ here at UGA.)
Our topic today is the Power of Prayer to Change Lives. I will share from the Word about this and then you will hear the story of someone who has been changed through prayer. Before we do that, let’s pray and ask for God’s help.
The first point I want to make today is very foundational and it is this:
1. The privilege of prayer: bold access to the Holy God of the universe by the blood of Jesus.
Hebr. 10:19-22 this passage is filled with history and connections to the Old Testament and the Jewish system of worship. Most Holy Place = the holy of holies in the Temple where only the High Priest could go in, and only once a year, and only if he was cleansed by the blood and had been through all the purification rites.
New and living way … curtain: veil of the temple being torn from top to bottom when Jesus died on the cross because Jesus was now making the holy of holies available to all … through His blood shed for our sins!!
v. 21 Jesus is our High Priest giving us access to God
v. 22 we can come boldly and with confidence to the holy God of the universe if we are cleansed by the blood of Jesus!!!
What a privilege to come to God in prayer: to talk to the God of the universe. To come just as we are.
Think about what I am saying here: we can actually come before the Holy and Awesome God of the universe by the blood of Jesus because the sin barrier has been removed. This is the Gospel and this is amazing! Scandalous grace!!!!
One other passage on this:
Hebr. 4:16 approach the throne of grace (not performance) with confidence to receive grace and mercy and help in time of need. Wow. What a privilege. Coming with confidence to the Holy and Powerful God of the universe based on the work of another regardless of our own works!! No better deal in all the world!!!
TS as we see hear, it says to receive help in time of need and that leads us to our next point:
2. The power of prayer to change me.
Prayer is about more than asking; it is about communion with God, getting in touch with God in whatever way I need for me to be changed.
Prayer is talking with God, and this communication with God is multi-faceted. Prayer is worship …. Thanksgiving …. Confessing sin …. Receiving wisdom …. Pouring out our hearts in frustration …. Admitting need …. Asking for help …. Even wrestling with God….
And we see these many aspects of prayer the most where in scripture? The Psalms. Mostly written by David, a man after God’s own heart, but a man also who went through lot of struggles but we get to read his journals in the Psalms, and there we see so many aspects of prayer.
Open and read from random Psalms
Anyone ever read “The Practice of the Presence” by Brother Lawrence? This is what the famous monk, Brother Lawrence, used to call “the practice of the presence of God.” The idea that we can pray at any time, anywhere and it is about staying in constant communication with God.
Before anything else, prayer is meant to change me as I connect with God.
TS to kind of spring forth from this point: Now one thing I have been learning about prayer is that it is not to be a one-way conversation. Even been on the phone with someone and they do all the talking? Pretty awkward right? Well, for many prayer is this way. I want to suggest to us that prayer should be a 2-way conversation. Now, I am not talking about hearing an audible voice, but I am talking about being quiet in prayer and allowing God to speak to us in that still small voice the bible talks about.
3. The power of prayer to hear God: prayer is meant to be a two-way conversation.
I happen to believe that God wants to talk to us more than most of us are willing to hear. And He does this primarily through His Word but I also think he wants to talk to us in prayer by bringing this to our minds and giving us impressions that will make our relationship with Him close and exciting and adventuresome.
Jn. 10:27 my sheep will hear my voice.
I believe God is more willing to speak than we are to listen.
Que Why do we not hear God more? Too busy!!! This is one of the greatest challenges of the day we live in, and that is we have so much information coming at us that it is increasingly difficult to shut it off and get alone with God and just quietly listen to Him.
My practice of “listening time”
Poster in my dad’s office: God speaks to those who are still enough to listen.
TS My final point is our topic at hand: power of prayer to change others. I purposely have it last because I want us all to see the many other aspects of prayer.
4. The power of prayer to change circumstances and others.
God mysteriously uses our prayers to change circumstances and people. I don’t understand this fully; it is still one of those mysteries. I still have questions about it, like “if God is sovereign and in control, then do my prayers really change things? Would that not have happened had I not prayed?” Those are still read questions for me, even as a pastor that preaches God’s Word and interacts with the real issues of everyday life, like someone dying of cancer that we are asking God to heal.
Maybe we can talk about this during the Q and A but let’s look at what God’s Word does say about prayer changing people and circumstances.
Jn. 15:7 if you abide in Me and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you.
Jas. 4:2 you have not because you ask not
Jn. 16:24 until now you have asked for nothing in my name, ask and your shall receive that your joy may be made full.
1 Jn. 5:14-15 if you ask anything according to my will it shall be done for you.
Ex. 32:10f is probably the most amazing example: God tells Moses to leave Him alone that he might bring judgment, but instead Moses prays and God changes his mind/relented (v. 14).
How cool that we can ask the God of the Universe to do things and actually see them happen!
One part of this power of prayer to actually change situations and people I think has to do with spiritual warfare. Now listen closely and this should definitely generate some good discussion during our Q and A. Watch closely:
(Diagram of world and satan and the prayer Christian
a. God is sovereign over all and is in total control. Ps. 103 His sovereignty rules over all.
b. 2 Cor. 4:4 Satan is the god of this world. Eph. 6 our battle is not against flesh and blood but against ….
c. Part of prayer is coming against the powers of darkness and the strongholds of Satan. 2 Cor. 10 pulling down strongholds ….. Dan. 10:12-13 took 21 days to overcome the prince of Persia …. Jas. 4:7 submit to God, resist the devil ….
d. It is a privilege to in some way partner with God in interceding for needs, hearing from God, and using His Word to tear down strongholds.
(Quo from Billheimer?
There is this powerful yet mysterious partnership we get to have whereby through prayer God releases His spirit in a powerful way to intersect the world and bring change. I am the first to admit I do not understand how all this works. But I am sure glad God set up this system. And I want to make sure I do what God says about prayer and not let the things I don’t understand to keep me from doing what is clear, like “ask and your shall receive.”
I want to give you 2 example of the power of prayer to changes lives
Ex. 1 story of Michael, setting up the prayer team, and the man in Africa having the vision and it leading to some powerful repentance….all because we asked some people to pray.
Ex. 2 Testimony of Rich: Rich Suplita. Many people have prayed for him, some have prayed for years and just recently there has been an amazing change in his life. I want him to tell you about it now:
Q and A Time