From the Preacher’s Pen… Last Lord’s Day evening we enjoyed a time devoted to prayer. It was both a good and a needed time for the family of Christ here at Casa Grande. And it provided us with a great lesson to always remember about the…
Importance of Prayer
In 1 Samuel 12, the nation of Israel had brought God’s anger on them for wanting to be like other nations and having a king to rule over them. As the God-chosen, now-rejected Judge of Israel tells them of God’s decision to give them a king, Judge Samuel warns of the consequences of forgetting and disobeying the Lord once again.
Following that stern warning given on the day that the wheat harvest was to begin, Samuel asks the Lord to send thunder and rain so the people would know their wickedness was great in this rejection of the Lord (cf. 1 Samuel 12:17-18).
In horror, the nation asked Samuel to pray for them, that they might not die (verse 19). Samuel tells them not to fear but rather to be faithful (verses 20-22, 24-25). And then, in one of the great lessons for all of God’s people, Samuel replies, Far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you; but I will instruct you in the good and right way (1 Samuel 12:23).
Samuel’s point was that it was his duty, his responsibility as a man of God to pray even (especially!) for those in rebellion against God and that he had to speak up and tell them what was right before God.
That responsibility still belongs to us today!
Paul directed us to pray and be thankful for all people (1 Timothy 2:1) and specifically kings, rulers, and all who are in authority (verse 2). Of note is the fact that this includes those we disagree with or even disapprove of as Paul’s statement actually includes the Roman emperor that would one day have Paul executed. So, once again, God’s “all” means ALL!
Another point worth noting is that Paul also tells us that this prayer for all is both good and acceptable in God’s sight (verse 3). And the reason for this prayer is that God wants all people to be saved and know His truth (verse 4).
We, like Samuel and all those called to serve the Lord, have the responsibility to tell others, to teach the Good News of God. And once more we see clearly that the “Great Commission” is the great responsibility of God’s people.
When we pray, just as when we live all aspects of our Christian life, we must remember NOT to get bogged down in the mire of “me’s!” Our God is NOT some mystical “Santa Claus” waiting for our personal shopping list of wants. Our God IS the God of salvation to ALL and gives to His family members the job of sharing that Good News and bringing others to Him.
James reminds us that prayer is a MUST, a requirement when things go wrong (James 5:13). The reason for this is that prayer is POWERFUL. How powerful is it? Offered in faith it can restore the sick, it can stop or start the rain (cf. James 5:13-18).
But perhaps the most awesome illustration of the power of prayer is that it can forgive sins! (James 5:14). Of course, it can never be used contrary to the will of God, but since the will of God is for salvation, how often do we miss its true power?
Notice something else James says about the power of prayer in verse 16: The effective prayer of a righteous person can accomplish much. The KJV uses the words effectual fervent prayer. So just what is unique about this kind of prayer?
The Greek word used by James is energeō and, as we might suspect just by looking at the word, it is where we get our word energy. So, to accomplish much, our prayers have to be filled with or be backed by real faith, real power, the working energy of a royal priest of God Most High! For prayer to work, it must be backed by the life of a child of the King of Kings!
Prayer is a powerful tool that cannot be used by just anybody. Prayer is the power of the Lord God placed into the hands and lives of His children. To use it, we must first have the Spirit of the Living God in us. We gain that Spirit when we are baptized into Christ (Acts 2:38) and it continues to fill us with the power of God as we faithfully serve Him.
Walk away from God, fail to faithfully serve Him and His spirit will leave you as it left King Saul. And without the Spirit of God, you lack the power of God.
Once more we have come full circle in God’s word. His power, His blessings are reserved for His family. In Him are all the promises and the responsibilities of serving as on this earth. Our job, our mission is to use all the tools that God gives us to reach out and share the Good News of Salvation. Reach another soul and you empower them with the power to reach others.
May we never underestimate the power of prayer!
— Lester P. Bagley