The True power of prayer

There’s a supposedly true story of a Welsh woman who lived in a remote valley in Wales. She went to a great deal of trouble and expense to have electrical power installed in her home. However, after a couple of months, the electric company noticed she didn’t seem to use very much electricity at all.
Thinking there might be a problem with the hookup, they sent a meter reader out to check on the matter. The man came to the door and said, “We’ve just checked your meter and it doesn’t seem that you’re using much electricity. Is there a problem?”
“Oh no” she said. “We’re quite satisfied. We turn on the electric lights every night to see how to light our lamps and then we switch them off again.”

APPLY: Now, why didn’t this woman make more use of her electricity?
She believed in electricity
She believed the promises of the electric company when they told her about it
She went to a great deal of trouble and expense to have her house wired for it
BUT – she didn’t understand the potential of electricity in her home.
AND SO, she used it’s power sparingly

I suspect there are people who use prayer very much the same way.
They believe in prayer
They know of the promises God has made
They’ve even read and heard stories about answered prayers
BUT they use prayer’s power sparingly…

I. I believe that the reason that happens (at least for some Christians) is that many don’t understand how prayer works.
AND many people believe it doesn’t really matter whether they pray or not

They either believe:
* God’s gonna do, what God’s gonna do anyway – so why bother!?
* OR – they regard prayer as a last resort after all of their other efforts have failed.
Sort of like “Hail Mary” pass in football. They throw it up in the air and hope it reaches the desired destination.
They’ll pray a little bit.
They’ll throw up occasional appeals…
But in their heart of hearts, they don’t view prayer as making that big an impact on the decisions they make every day.
(pause…)
But Daniel didn’t pray that way
· Daniel prayed 3 times every day
· He prayed in his room
· He prayed in the lions’ den
· He prayed for wisdom
· He prayed for guidance
· He prayed that God would forgive the sins of His people Israel and return them to their home.

AND NOW, we find Daniel struggling in prayer for 21 days because he’s troubled by a dream he’s had.

Many Christians would have trouble praying for 21 days for anything (I asked for a show of hands of people who remembered praying for that long for any issue – only two out of 140 raised their hands).

However, Luke writes: Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.
He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’
“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!’”
And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?
Luke 18:1-7

REPEAT: Jesus taught us – we should always pray and not give up

ILLUS: We should be like the 3-year-old boy (that Paul Harvey told about) who went to the grocery store with his mother. Before they entered the grocery store she said to him, “Now you’re not going to get any chocolate chip cookies, so don’t even ask.”
She put him up in the cart & he sat in the little child’s seat while she wheeled down the aisles. He was doing just fine until they came to the cookie section. He saw the chocolate chip cookies & he stood up in the seat & said, “Mom, can I have some chocolate chip cookies?” She said, “I told you not even to ask. You’re not going to get any at all.” So he sat back down.
They continued down the aisles, but in their search for certain items they ended up back in the cookie aisle. “Mom, can I please have some chocolate chip cookies?” She said, “I told you that you can’t have any. Now sit down & be quiet.”
Finally, they were approaching the checkout lane. The little boy sensed that this may be his last chance. So just before they got to the line, he stood up on the seat of the cart & shouted in his loudest voice, “In the name of Jesus, may I have some chocolate chip cookies?”
And everybody round about just laughed. Some even applauded. And, due to the generosity of the other shoppers, the little boy & his mother left with 23 boxes of chocolate chip cookies.

We ought always to pray and not give up…

I. But why? WHY should we always pray and not give up?
I mean is God deaf?
Is it hard to get His attention?
Do we have to keep bothering Him until He throws up His hands in disgust and says “If I don’t grant their request I’ll never get any rest?”

No, I don’t think that’s the issue at all. In fact, our text this morning seems to be saying something else entirely.

Look at Daniel 10:10-12. NOTICE it says “SINCE THE FIRST DAY that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, YOUR WORDS WERE HEARD, and I have come in response to them.” (vs. 12)

This isn’t the 1st time an angel has told Daniel this: AS SOON AS YOU BEGAN TO PRAY, an answer was given, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. Therefore, consider the message and understand the vision (Daniel 9:23)

In other words, every time you and I pray not only does God gladly hear our prayers… an angel is immediately sent from the throne of God to answer our prayers.
(pause…)

II. But that still doesn’t answer question: why should we always pray & not give up?

The story of Daniel’s prayer (here in chap. 10) gives us at least one reason why that should be true.

REREAD Daniel 10:12-13. Now consider what this says:
From the very 1st day Daniel prayed his prayers were heard and an angel was sent. BUT this is one of those rare times God pulls back the curtain and lets us see what’s happening behind the scenes.

ILLUS: It’s kind of like when you’re at a theatrical play and the curtain is closed. You don’t usually see what takes place behind the curtain. If you didn’t know better, you might never realize that while the curtain is closed the props are brought out, the scenery is changed and the actors take their positions. But every once in a while somebody slips up and the curtain is accidentally drawn back and you see what is taking place behind the scenes. That’s (in essence) what God is doing here – He’s drawing back the curtain so you see what ordinarily would be hidden from your eyes.

When Daniel prayed demonic forces rose up (the prince of Persia) and angelic warfare was broke out. You know what that means?
… that means – that when you pray – you turn loose the very powers of heaven
… that means – that when you pray – you have the power to battle the very forces of darkness
… that means – that when you pray – angels are willing to fight = to answer your prayers

As Hebrews 1:14 tells us
“angels (are) ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation”
WHEN YOU PRAY angels are at your beck & call

III. Now, here’s an interesting question…
Daniel prayed 21 days. The angel was sent the 1st day he prayed… but didn’t arrive until the 21st day. Now here’s the question: What might have happened had Daniel GIVEN UP in his prayers?
What if he had quit on the 14th day, or the 15th, or the 16th? Would the angel have arrived with his answer?

The Bible doesn’t say, but the implication is – MAYBE NOT!!!

Jesus taught that we should “always pray and not give up”
· Not because God is hard of hearing
· Not because God needs to be pestered into answering our requests
· Not because God doesn’t want to answer us

NO… Jesus taught us always pray and not give up because, when we pray, our prayers carry weight. EVERY TIME you and I pray we unleash more and more power from the throne of God
· Are you praying for someone in your family to become a Christian?
Every prayer you pray puts more and more pressure on that person to listen to God…
· Do you pray for your friends in their daily struggles
Every prayer you pray imparts to them more and more power from God
· Do you have difficulties with someone at work
Every prayer you lift up to God’s throne brings God’s power to bear on difficult people and situations.

Prayer is not a passive act on our part
Prayer is AN AGGRESSIVE, ACTIVE MINISTRY. You are putting your shoulder to the wheel and moving the forces of heaven.

ILLUS: One man describing his prayers said “When I pray – I PUSH
When everything seems to go wrong, I just Push!
When the job gets me down, I just Push!
When people don’t react the way I think they should, I just Push!
When my money looks funny and the bills are due, I just Push!
When I want to curse people out for whatever the reason, I just Push!
When people just don’t understand me, I just Push!
PUSH stands for
P-ray!!!
U-ntil!!!
S-omething!!!
H-appens!!!

CLOSE: As you use your Prayer Journals this month – don’t just pray on something once or twice. Pray your prayers again and again and again
– PUSH your prayers
– Empower the angels of God
– Unleash the power of heaven

George Mueller was known for his powerful prayer. In the course of his ministry to the orphans of England, he never asked for financial assistance from men – only God… and he constantly received what was needed to the penny.
Once while on his way to speak in Quebec for a engagement. On the deck of the ship that was to carry him to his destination, he informed the captain that he needed to be in Quebec by Saturday afternoon. As the captain related the story, he said “’It is impossible,’ I said. ’Do you know how dense this fog is?’”
“’No,’ he replied, ’my eye is not on the density of the fog, but on the living God who controls every circumstance of life. I have never broken an engagement in 57 years; let us go down into the chart room and pray.’ He knelt down and he prayed one of the most simple prayers. When he had finished I was going to pray, but he put his hand on my shoulder and told me not to pray. ’As you do not believe He will answer, and as I believe He has, there is no need for you whatever for you to pray about it.’
“I looked at him and George Mueller said, ’Captain, I have known my Lord for 57 yrs. and there has never been a single day when I have failed to get an audience with the King. Get up, Captain, and open the door and you will find that the fog has gone.’
“I got up and the fog indeed was gone, and on that Saturday afternoon George Mueller kept his promised engagement.”

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