Friday, September 12, 2014

Praying with power

Romans 8:26-27 In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; 27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Today's post is all about praying with power. When we think about how God manifest His power in worship services, preaching or the daily Christian life, we think in terms of man's concepts of power. So often we are advised to center our activites around "felt-needs" or "marketing". We are told that such techniques will bring more "pull" and influence over our culture in the churches. Further counsel suggests that for the daily Christian life, making oneself happy is to be the priority for having a more fulfilled Christianity. 

As I am sure many readers have witnessed - such techniques utterly fail. Why? Because what constitutes powerful Christianity and church-life operates in the powerful prayer lives of Christians who walk with God. Our own sense of self-importance has resulted in a bloated American church that looks more like the culture and less like a counter-culture centered around the belief in the Risen Christ and the manifestation of the Kingdom of God in the Word of God and transformed lives. 

Romans 8:21-28 gives the list of ingredients necessary for having a powerful and effective prayer life. As one writer once put it: "a man (and for that matter a woman) of God can never exceed in their public life the level to which they are with God in their private life." If we can take note of the principles Paul lays out here for praying with power, then we will have the Christian lives and churches that are also marked with the Spirit's power and enduement.

1. Pray with expectation. Romans 8:21-25 
Romans 8:21-25 states: "that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.22 For we know that the whole creationgroans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. 23 And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. 24 Forin hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it." Notice the underlined words in the text: "waiting eagerly" and "hope". Do we expect God to genuinely work when we pray? Are we expecting Him to act on our behalf. The tone of the Christian world and personal Christian living is often powerless due to the fact we don't believe God is powerful. We have tamed God and domesticated Him to operating on the same plane as we do. If God is powerful enough (and He is) to bring to a resolution the sin and decay of this creation through the redemptive efforts of His Son, surely he can act effectively on your behalf and mine. So to pray with power, we must pray with expectation, meaning we know God is able to do whatsoever His will in His Word says he can and will do. But notice a second necessary element...

Pray with weakness. Romans 8:26 
Romans 8:26 states - "In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words." If there is one thing missing in our church world and Christianity as a whole in America it is the sense of dependency on God. We like to come off like we have it all together. Showing of strength, human ingenuity, professionalism, cleverness, no problems, personality and the like make for appealing to the crowds and attracting more people. However, does such an envoronment foster the type of atmosphere wherein the Spirit of God will show up in supernatural power? 

Consider again what we learn in prayer, and apply it in your Christian life or the church world: "His power is made perfect in weakness". Admitting that I don't have the answers. Acknowledging to God we need help with this or that. Coming to our heavenly father as a little wee child comes to their daddy with upheld arms, moistened eyes and quicvering voice saying: Daddy, please help me! Would any decent father reject such a plea? Hardly! How much more our Heavenly Father will grant the co-equal, co-eternal Spirit in powerful aid to those crying out in prayer. Our strength lies in our weakness, a message so alien to our culture. Nonetheless this is what is called for in praying with power, namely praying in our weakness and dependance upon God. We need also to pray with expectation. But notice the last ingredient for praying with power...

Praying with faith in God. Romans 8:27-28
Romans 8:27-28 "and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." In prayer the mind and the human spirit are linked together. The mind that has taken in the words of God from the Bible knows the will of God. The human spirit that is home to the Holy Spirit of God knows the will of God intuitively. Faith by its very defintion in Hebrews 11:1 is the substance of things hoped for and the certainty of things not yet seen. 

Fear says: "Maybe". Faith says: "He can". Fear says: "I'm not sure". Faith says: "I know He will". Prayer crosses over that invisible boundary between human half-hearted prayers vs Spirit-wrought powerful intercession by what we can call "certainty" and "knowing that we know that we know". Romans 8:28 is an everest in the Christian's prayer life. You can take that one verse and pull it over every area of your Christian life and whatever is lacking in our local churches. Praying with power will lead to living with power, worshipping with power and preaching with power. 

We need the power and Person of God in our lives. May we pray with expectation, weakness and faith. Those are the ingredients for praying in power. 

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