Power Through Prayer
Text: Mark 11:22-24
Rev. Garry E. McCaffery
Last week we talked about the necessity of prayer. We talked about how it is necessary to pray with faith, to pray every day, and to pray persistently. The reason it is so necessary for us to pray is that prayer keeps us on course with God’s word and God’s will for our lives. If we want to grow, both as individuals and the church, we need to pray.
We need to pray, not only because it is necessary for our faith journey, we need to pray because there is power through prayer. This is what I want to look at today; the power we have through prayer.
One of the things that amazes me as I think about our lives as believers is, how it seems we go through periods of time wherein it appears we forget about this power that is available to us through prayer. How often do we pray without the expectancy that God will act? Instead of praying, “God, we, with all confidence, believe you will answer this prayer…”, we come before God saying, “O Lord, if you can, would you, could you, maybe consider doing something, not that I expect you to, but, if it’s not too much trouble…Amen.”
Instead of praying with confidence that God will act and has the power to act, we pray with the hope, if God’s not too busy, he may act if he can. Many times we are missing out on experiencing the power God has given to us in prayer. There is a great power through prayer that is available to us, as individuals and the as the body of believers, the church, that is laying untouched because we have been unwilling to pray in such a way so as to tap into this great power. Would you like to have power through prayer? Would you like to experience this power that is ours as children of God? If so, lets look again at what Jesus has to say in this passage from Mark’s gospel.
First, Jesus said, Mark 11:22, “Have faith in God.” Faith! Sounds familiar doesn’t it? Sounds like what I pointed out last week. Faith plays such a major part in prayer that it has to be mentioned again. Time and time again Jesus relates miraculous events to people’s faith and he points to the importance of faith in prayer. We are taught we must have faith that God willingly hears our prayers and must believe that our prayers will influence God. Believe you me, our prayers do influence God.
God set things up so we could have influence with Him if we will ask. Sadly, and all too often, we fall short in the asking department. Oh, sometimes we ask, but, as I stated earlier, we ask half-heartedly. We ask without the expectation that God cares enough to step in and intervene in our situation. Yet, we are given powerful influence through prayer.
In Genesis 18 we find a story that demonstrates the influence we human beings can have with God. In this story we find that God has stopped by to visit Abraham on his way to pass judgement on the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Picking up in chapter 18:20,
20 And the Lord said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave, 21 I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry against it that has come to Me; and if not, I will know.”
22 Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the Lord. 23 And Abraham came near and said, “Would You also destroy the righteous with the wicked? 24 Suppose there were fifty righteous within the city; would You also destroy the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous that were in it? 25 Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”
26 So the Lord said, “If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.”
27 Then Abraham answered and said, “Indeed now, I who am but dust and ashes have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord: 28 Suppose there were five less than the fifty righteous; would You destroy all of the city for lack of five?”
So He said, “If I find there forty-five, I will not destroy it.”
29 And he spoke to Him yet again and said, “Suppose there should be forty found there?”
So He said, “I will not do it for the sake of forty.”
30 Then he said, “Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Suppose thirty should be found there?”
So He said, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.”
31 And he said, “Indeed now, I have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord: Suppose twenty should be found there?”
So He said, “I will not destroy it for the sake of twenty.”
32 Then he said, “Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak but once more: Suppose ten should be found there?”
And He said, “I will not destroy it for the sake of ten.” 33 So the Lord went His way as soon as He had finished speaking with Abraham; and Abraham returned to his place
Through the power of prayer Abraham influenced God. For the sake of ten righteous people God promised he would not destroy Sodom and Gomorrah in spite of all their sin. Now we learn, as we read further, God did destroy Sodom and Gomorrah because, quite sadly, there were not 10 righteous people there. There was only one, Lot, and he and his family were evacuated from the city just before both cities were destroyed.
In this instance I think Abraham stopped too early in what he was asking for in prayer. Maybe if he had kept praying he could have gotten God to agree not to destroy the cities for the sake of even one righteous person. He just quit asking too soon.
There is power through prayer, the power to influence God, and God just wants us to have faith in the asking. We are to have faith in God.
Secondly, God wants us to pray with boldness. Look at what Jesus said in Mark 11:23, “For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.”
I’ve always been fascinated by this statement. It would be pretty bold to command a mountain to be cast into the sea, wouldn’t it? Could you imagine doing anything like that? People might wonder about us if we take a drive this afternoon to some hilly areas and start ordering the hills to go from one place to another. Nevertheless, having the boldness to believe that what we are asking for, even if it is beyond logic or common sense, having the boldness to trust Christ that our prayer would be answered in such a powerful and terrific way, how incredible. I don’t know if I have that kind of boldness. I’m not even bold enough, at times, to believe the automatic doors at Tops will open before I walk into them.
Yet, Jesus tells us there is such power through prayer that all we have to do is believe that we will receive what we are asking for in prayer. Do we believe God has the power to give us what we ask? Do we believe God has the power to perform such miracles?
Sometimes I don’t think we believe God has the power to do what it is we are asking for. Sometimes I think we believe more in what we have the power to do than what God has the power to do. All too often I think we place our limitations on God’s ability to act even though we are taught otherwise. And be careful not to get caught in the false idea that miracles only occurred during Bible times but no longer happen today. Don’t get deceived into believing miracles ended after Jesus ascended into heaven. We know, just by reading the first few chapters in Acts, miracles continued.
In Acts chapter 3 we find the story of Peter and John going to the temple at the hour of prayer. On the way to the temple they met a man who was disabled. He was not able to walk. This man sat near the temple to beg people for money as they passed by. As he sat there this man saw Peter and John passing by and he asked them for money. Peter and John looked at him and Peter spoke to him and said, “Look at us.” This made the disabled man look up with hope in his eyes that he would receive a good portion of money. But what he received was far better.
Peter said to the man, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” And you know what? Peter and John helped this man up and for the first time in his life this man stood, by himself, on both his legs. Then, in celebration, this man began walking, and leaping, and praising God for this miraculous healing.
Peter had no doubt his bold prayer in the name of Jesus would be answered; his prayer for the man to rise up and walk. Nowhere in this passage does it express Peter or John had any doubt God would respond to this prayer. Oh yes, the man who was healed, his faith played into the prayer too. He had to believe that the name of Jesus could heal. Through the faith of Peter and John, and through the faith of the man who was healed, the power of prayer was made evident.
We must have faith. We must pray boldly with expectation, and thirdly, we are to believe wholeheartedly. In Mark 11:24 Jesus said, “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.”
Believe you will receive what you ask for in prayer. Peter and John believed this physically handicapped man would be healed through their prayer and he was.
Another instance of a person receiving what they asked for is found in the ministry of Jesus. One day a Roman soldier came to Jesus because he had a servant who was very sick and quite likely going to die. Jesus offered to go with this man, but the soldier told Jesus that he was not worthy to have him come to his home. The soldier explained he was a man under authority and he had people that were under his authority. He would give a command and his servants would do it. So he said to Jesus, “all you need to do is give the word and I know my servant will be healed.”
Jesus was amazed at this man’s faith and proclaimed his prayer would be answered. The Roman soldier’s servant was healed at that very moment. The servant was healed because of the faith his master had in the power of Jesus to respond to the request. Through the power of prayer the servant was healed.
If we don’t think Jesus works like that today, then we have allowed the devil to rob us of what is rightfully ours as children of God. There is power through prayer! Anyone who has witnessed God’s power and protection firsthand knows this and will testify to it. I know that I recovered fully from Covid19 and pneumonia because of the power of prayer. I know others will be healed and restored through the power of prayer. The healing may not be in the way we expect, nevertheless, God is at work.
If we want to see a great move of the power of God in our church and in our own lives, then we need to be willing to pray with faith, with boldness, and with the expectation that the Lord will answer. Praying in this way we can stand back and see the power of God at work in new and exciting ways! This is the power through prayer. Amen.