Powerful Prayer

GEORGE MUELLER, the great Christian, pastor and social reformer, tells a story of persistent prayer in his diary:

“In November 1844, I began to pray for the conversion of five individuals. I prayed every day without a single intermission, whether sick or in health, on the land, on the sea, and whatever the pressure of my engagements might be. Eighteen months elapsed before the first of the five was converted. I thanked God and prayed on for the others. Five years elapsed, and then the second was converted.  I thanked God for the second, and prayed on for the other three. Day by day, I continued to pray for them, and six years passed before the third was converted.  I thanked God for the three, and went on praying for the other two. These two remained unconverted.”

Thirty-six years later he wrote that the other two, son’s of a friend were still not converted.  He wrote, “But I hope in God, I pray on, and look for the answer. They are not converted yet, but they will be.” In 1897, fifty-two years after he began to pray daily, without interruption, for these two men, they were finally converted—but after he died! Mueller understood what the Apostle Paul meant when he said that he “night and day praying exceedingly….”  In 1 Thessalonians 3 Paul shares some good news that he heard about the faith and love of the Thessalonian believers.  This good news was the result of powerful prayer.  What was Paul praying for that resulted in such good news?  I believe he gives us a hint in verses 11-13.

First Paul prayed for connection and fellowship with those believers.  He had been forced away from them through persecution and had to leave them unexpectedly.  During Paul’s time with them he taught them the gospel, which they received and it transformed them.  While Paul was worried that in his absence they may have drifted away in their faith, he heard in the “good news” from Timothy that they were established in their faith and in their love for one another.  Paul prayed that he could soon be back in their presence.

Secondly Paul prayed for their love to increase.  While in the “good news” report he learned that they did have love, he also prayed for it to abound more and more.  He prayed that they would not just love one another, but they would also love the lost and even their enemies.  Love in this epistle is always seen as an action, “labor of love.”  In other words love has a purpose, it is not an end in itself.  Love is not simply an emotional feeling, but love results in action.  Paul prayed that their love result in more action “toward all men.”

Finally, Paul prayed for their hearts to be established in holiness.  The Thessalonian believers were taught that Christ is going to return and we need to be ready. Paul wanted them to be ready.  How do we get ready?  How do we get our hearts established so that when He comes we are not embarrassed? Repent of your sins and believe in Christ, His death, burial and resurrection.  By faith and grace we become His child.  But being His child does not mean that we will be blameless and holy at His coming.  The holiness here is separation from sin in our daily lives.  This is speaking more of our sanctification.  We must protect our hearts from hooks of sin by repenting of it immediately.  Additionally, we should seek to obey God’s instructions and find our delight and joy in His Word and in Him rather than sin. My prayer for us is the prayer of Paul, “that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.”

The New King James Version. (1982). (1 Th 3:13). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

By Ryan

PRAYER QUOTE

PRAYER AND THE MAN GOD USES
  • “I would rather teach one man to pray than ten men to preach.”

– Charles Spurgeon

 

  • “The man who mobilizes the Christian church to pray will make the greatest contribution to world evangelization in history.”

– Andrew Murray

 

  • “We have to pray with our eyes on God, not on the difficulties.”

– Oswald Chambers

 

  • “There is no other activity in life so important as that of prayer. Every other activity depends upon prayer for its best efficiency.”

– M.E. Andross

 

  • “He who runs from God in the morning will scarcely find Him the rest of the day.” – John Bunyan

 

  • “Prayer is not learned in a classroom but in the closet.” – E. M. Bounds

 

  • “We must begin to believe that God, in the mystery of prayer, has entrusted us with a force that can move the Heavenly world, and can bring it’s power down to earth.”

– Andrew Murray

 

  • “Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His’ voice in the depth of our hearts.”

– Mother Teresa

 

  • “Relying on God has to begin all over again every day as if nothing had yet been done.”

– C.S. Lewis

 

  • “The more you pray, the less you’ll panic. The more you worship, the less you worry. You’ll feel more patient and less pressured.”

– Rick Warren

 

  • “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.”

– Martin Luther

 

  • “Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work.”

– Oswald Chambers

 

  • “He who kneels the most, stands the best.”

– D.L. Moody

 

Choose to be Prayerful and to encourage others to pray without ceasing

PRAYER IS THE MASTER KEY

PRAYER IS HARD WORK

(Don’t let anyone deceive you)

A dear friend of mine emailed me and said:
“I am losing faith in God.  I’m struggling through tough times and I don’t see God anywhere around me. I keep fighting and praying and I still can’t get any answer. I notice people who don’t even pray to Jesus are well-off and having an easier life. All my life, I have prayed and, fasted and yet still, I live in poverty and misery. How long, how long, will God see me like this? I am a single mum struggling hard to raise my child and can’t find enough money to survive…where is God? And why me?”
“I’ve been separated from my husband for 5 years. He is enjoying his life and doesn’t take up any responsibility of our little child. He never cares, he never gives a penny and I’m still struggling. He is running away from his responsibility. How long, how long will I keep on asking? Where is God, why God can’t do anything…?”

I really felt sorry for her. Believe it or not, there was a time I almost lost faith in God too! It seemed I had more problems than one person could handle. Many Christians today are facing similar situations.
Unknown to me at the time, God was preparing me for my ‘fight’. Thankfully, He did not allow me to give up… even as things went from bad to worse. If I had given up, you’ll probably not be reading this now.

As I thought of what to do with the email from my dear friend, the Holy Spirit nudged me to have a chat with her. I found out that she had some marital and financial challenges and needed help. The problems started 4 years back and have gotten worse.
I double-checked her background and noticed that time, she had not joined or made any commitment to any local church or prayer fellowship. She is fighting alone and standing alone. This is dangerous to be found alone without any support.

She should joined a Bible-based Church or prayer based ministry in her community which could have help her through a time of prayer and deliverance as well as instructions in the Holy Scriptures.

I wish I could have just said a few words and to let her problems disappear. But it does not work that way.
Prayer is HARD WORK, especially, the kind of prayer that brings answers. Developing great interest in Bible study and applying scriptures into your everyday life is a hard work and demands personal spiritual discipline. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

But the rewards, in terms of answered prayers and God interventions make this whole process worthwhile. The testimonies that would come out of it alone are outstanding.

Prayer is a hard work but it produces fruits that last a life time.

Sometimes, the challenges in your life are used by God to train your hand for war, your

fingers to fight. (Psalms 144:1-2)

Most often it takes consistency, commitment, perseverance and determination in

PRAYER to deal with stubborn problems that confront our way to Victory. God sends us

Breakthroughs whenever we come before him in prayer. In such time, it calls for hard work, always looking ahead and never backwards. Let no one deceive you or tell you otherwise.
Praise the LORD.

 

Talking about prayer; it’s a spiritual warfare, dealing with unseen forces of evil in high places, as Apostle Paul said:

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

Put on the whole armour of God that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the

devil.”

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers,

against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high

places.

Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God that ye may be able to withstand in

the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of

righteousness;

And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery

darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which

is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and

watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints”; 

(Ephesians 6:10-18) (KJV)

This scripture passage tells us that, prayer is not an easy job for the lazy, idle and careless people but a call for well prepared and well armed soldiers of Christ, always ready to go to war, to confront the attacking force of darkness in the spiritual realms which have been assigned to harm the children of God.

The problems and challenges we face are either out of disobedience to God or caused

by activities of the powers of darkness to make life miserable, bitter and to cause harm.

Their purpose is for the children of God to question God wrongly, doubt, disbelieve and

reject God.

These forces of darkness’ prime aim is as the scriptures put it

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy:” But Jesus said

“I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly”. (John 10:10) (KJV)

 

God is still God, no matter the struggle in our lives. Total victory always comes from the Lord who made the heavens and the earth. Our dependence on God and obedience to his Word matters a lot if we are to overcome.

Bible says:
“See that you refuse not him that speaks. For if they escaped not who refused him that spoke on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaks from heaven: Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he has promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, yet once more, signifies the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. – Heb 12:25-27 (KJV)

No matter the struggles and challenges you are going through today; let me remind you that “Jesus is Lord over all”. Trust in him and never give up on your faith. Keep on talking to him in prayer, never doubt or be unbelieving. It is a dangerous path to take.

Dear friend, have HOPE in thy God. He is more than able to turn our bitterness to sweetness and make our curses a blessing. God is able to turn our disappointment to divine opportunities in a trickle of an eye. HE IS GOD ALMIGHTY, rest upon his Word and trust in Him.

Dearly beloved, Jesus loves you more than you can imaging. He gave his life for you and me, and died for you and me so that we may live and have eternal life in him alone. Today if you hear his voice calling never harden your heart, choose to respond in total obedience and whole heartedly surrounded and you will find complete rest of your soul. What you and I need is to throw our life fully into his hand and rest in him. He will take our burden and break off the yoke on us forever. He will give inner peace and eternal life, he alone has to give.

Dear friend let me remind you that Jesus is Lord of all. He always hears us when we pray and do answer when we call on him. Don’t allow the present challengers makes you doubts God and his power to help you today. The God we serve today is all powerful, all knowing and ever presence all the time. He has not forgotten you and will not leave you alone to suffer for nothing. The Prophet Isaiah says”

“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. Behold, all they that were incensed against thee shall be ashamed and confounded: they shall be as nothing; and they that strive with thee shall perish. Thou shalt seek them, and shalt not find them, even them that contended with thee: they that war against thee shall be as nothing, and as a thing of nought. For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee. Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the LORD, and thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel”. (Isaiah 41:10-14) (KJV)

My dear friend, don’t live in fear and be wounding in your mind, you are not alone. The presence of God is with you even though you fill sometime lonely; the truth is that you are not alone. God is with you and me all the time. Trust him and rest upon his Word. Jesus is our savoir and Lord.

 

PRAYER: Say aloud; Lord Jesus today I give my life to you and rededicate myself unto you today, be merciful to me and forgive all my sins. Come into my heart and give me eternal life. Be my Lord and savior, I surround all to you alone. Amen.

Be Blessed and Overcome in Jesus’ Mighty Name.

REMEMBER: JESUS IS LORD.

By Rev Ed Arcton

 

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Dr. John Oswald Sanders on the Leader and His Prayer Life

I urge then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone. 1 Timothy 2:1

Prayer and Leadership

The spiritual leader should outpace the rest of the church, above all, in prayer. And yet the most advanced leader is conscious of the possibility of endless development in his prayer life. Nor does he ever feel that he has “already attained.” Dean C. J. Vaughan once said: “If I wished to humble anyone, I should question him about his prayers. I know nothing to compare with this topic for its sorrowful self-confessions.”

Prayer is the most ancient, most universal, and most intensive expression of the religious instinct. It includes the simplest speech of infant lips, and the sublime entreaties of older age. All reach the Majesty on high. Prayer is indeed the Christian’s vital breath and native air.

But, strange paradox, most of us find it hard to pray. We do not naturally delight in drawing near to God. We sometimes pay lip service to the delight and power of prayer. We call it indispensable; we know the Scriptures call for it. Yet we often fail to pray.

Let us take encouragement from the lives of saintly leaders who overcame this natural reluctance and became mighty in prayer. Of Samuel Chadwick it was said: He was essentially a man of prayer. Every morning he would be astir shortly after six o’clock, and he kept a little room which was his private sanctum for his quiet hour before breakfast. He was mighty in public prayer because he was constant in private devotion. . . . When he prayed he expected God to do something. “I wish I had prayed more,” he wrote toward the end of his life, “even if I had worked less; and from the bottom of my heart I wish I had prayed better” (N.G. Dunning, Samuel Chadwick. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1934, 19).

“When I go to prayer,” confessed an eminent Christian, “I find my heart so loath to go to God, and when it is with Him, so loath to stay.” Then he pointed to the need for self-discipline. “When you feel most indisposed to pray, yield not to it,” he counseled, “but strive and endeavor to pray, even when you think you cannot.”

Mastering the art of prayer, like anything else, takes time. The time we give it will be a true measure of its importance to us. We always find the time for important things. The most common excuse for little time spent in prayer is the list of “to-dos” that crowd our day—all our many duties. To Martin Luther, an extra load of duties was reason enough to pray more, not less. Hear his plans for the next day’s work: “Work, work from early till late. In fact I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” If Luther was busy, and prayed, so can we.

Try to explain exactly how prayer works and you will quickly run against some very difficult puzzles. But people who are skeptical of prayer’s validity and power are usually those who do not practice it seriously or fail to obey when God reveals His will. We cannot learn about prayer except by praying. No philosophy has ever taught a soul to pray. The intellectual problems associated with prayer are met in the joy of answered prayer and closer fellowship with God.

The Christian leader who seeks an example to follow does well to turn to the life of Jesus Himself. Our belief in the necessity of prayer comes from observing His life. Surely if anyone could have sustained life without prayer, it would be the very Son of God Himself. If prayer is silly or unnecessary, Jesus would not have wasted His time at it. But wait! Prayer was the dominant feature of His life and a recurring part of His teaching. Prayer kept His moral vision sharp and clear. Prayer gave Him courage to endure the perfect but painful will of His Father. Prayer paved the way for transfiguration. To Jesus, prayer was not a hasty add-on, but a joyous necessity.

In Luke 5:16 we have a general statement which throws a vivid light on the daily practice of the Lord. “And He withdrew Himself in the deserts and prayed.” It is not of one occasion but of many that the evangelist speaks in this place. It was our Lord’s habit to seek retirement for prayer. When He withdrew Himself from men, He was accustomed to press far into the uninhabited country—He was in the deserts. The surprise of the onlookers lay in this, that one so mighty, so richly endowed with spiritual power, should find it necessary for Himself to repair to the source of strength, that there He might refresh His weary spirit. To us, the wonder is still greater, that He, the prince of Life, the Eternal word, the Only-begotten of the Father, should prostrate Himself in meekness before the throne of God, making entreaty for grace to help in time of need (D.M. McIntyre, The Prayer Life of Our Lord. London: Morgan & Scott, n.d., 30–31).

Christ spent full nights in prayer (Luke 6:12). He often rose before dawn to have unbroken communion with His Father (Mark 1:35). The great crises of His life and ministry began with periods of special prayer, as in Luke 5:16: “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed”—a statement that indicates a regular habit. By word and example He instructed His disciples on the importance of solitude in prayer (Mark 6:46, following the feeding of the five thousand; Luke 9:28, preceding the Transfiguration). To the person on whom devolves the responsibility for selecting personnel for specific spiritual responsibilities, the example of the Lord’s spending the night in prayer before making His choice of apostles (Luke 6:12) is luminous.

Both our Lord and His bond slave Paul made clear that true prayer is not dreamy reverie. “All vital praying makes a drain on a man’s vitality. True intercession is a sacrifice, a bleeding sacrifice,” wrote J. H. Jowett. Jesus performed miracles without a sign of outward strain, but “he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears” (Hebrews 5:7).

Sometimes our prayers are pale and weak compared to those of Paul or Epaphras. “Epaphras . . . is always wrestling in prayer for you,” wrote Paul in Colossians 4:12. And to the same group: “I want you to know how much I am struggling for you” (Colossians 2:1). The Greek word used for “struggle” here is the root for our words “agony” and “agonize.” It is used to describe a person struggling at work until utterly weary (Colossians 1:29) or competing in the arena for an athletic prize (1 Corinthians 9:25). It describes a soldier battling for his life (1 Timothy 6:12), or a man struggling to deliver his friends from danger (John 18:36). True prayer is a strenuous spiritual exercise that demands the utmost mental discipline and concentration.

We are encouraged to note that Paul, probably the greatest human champion of prayer, confessed, “We do not know what we ought to pray for.” And then he hastened to add, “The Spirit intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will” (Romans 8:26–28). The Spirit joins us in prayer and pours His supplications into our own.

Pray in the Spirit

All Christians need more teaching in the art of prayer, and the Holy Spirit is the master teacher. The Spirit’s help in prayer is mentioned in the Bible more frequently than any other help He gives us. All true praying comes from the Spirit’s activity in our souls. Both Paul and Jude teach that effective prayer is “praying in the Spirit.” That phrase means that we pray along the same lines, about the same things, in the same name, as the Holy Spirit. True prayer rises in the spirit of the Christian from the Spirit who indwells us.

To pray in the Spirit is important for two reasons. First, we are to pray in the realm of the Spirit, for the Holy Spirit is the sphere and atmosphere of the Christian’s life. In this we often fail. Much praying is physical rather than spiritual, in the realm of the mind alone, the product of our own thinking and not of the Spirit’s teaching. But real prayer is deeper. It uses the body, requires the cooperation of the mind, and moves in the supernatural realm of the Spirit. Such praying transacts its business in the heavenly realm.

Second, we are to pray in the power and energy of the Spirit. “Give yourselves wholly to prayer and entreaty; pray on every occasion in the power of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:18 NEB). For its superhuman task, prayer demands more than human power. We have the Spirit of power as well as the Spirit of prayer. All the human energy of heart, mind, and will can achieve great human results, but praying in the Holy Spirit releases supernatural resources. The Spirit delights to help us pray. In each of our three chief handicaps, we can count on the Spirit’s help. Sometimes we are kept from prayer by sin in our heart. As we grow in trust and submission, the Holy Spirit leads us to the blood of Christ, which cleanses every stain.

Sometimes the ignorance of our minds hinders our prayers. But the Spirit knows the mind of God and shares that knowledge with us as we wait and listen. The Spirit does this by giving us a clear conviction that a particular prayer request is part of God’s will for us, or not.

Sometimes we are earthbound because of the infirmity of the body. We get sick, we feel ill, we are weak. The Spirit will quicken our bodies and enable us to rise above weaknesses, even those imposed by sultry tropical climates.

Then, as if these three conditions were not enough, the spiritual leader must oppose Satan in prayer. Satan will try to depress, to create doubt and discouragement, to keep a leader from communion with God. In the Holy Spirit, we have a heavenly ally against this supernatural foe.

Spiritual leaders should know the experience of praying in the Spirit as part of their daily walk. Do we ever try to live independently of the Spirit? Do we fail to see full answers to prayer? We can read all day about prayer, and experience little of its power, and so stunt our service.

The Bible often explains prayer as spiritual warfare. “For our struggle is . . . against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). In this struggle phase of prayer, three personalities are engaged. Between God and the devil stands the Christian at prayer. Though weak alone, the Christian plays a strategic role in the struggle between the dragon and the Lamb. The praying Christian wields no personal power, but power nonetheless delegated by the victorious Christ to whom that faithful believer is united by faith. Faith is like a reticulating system through which the victory won on Calvary reaches the devil’s captives and delivers them from darkness into light.

Jesus was not so much concerned over wicked people and their deeds as with the forces of evil that caused those people to sin. Behind Peter’s denial and Judas’s betrayal was the sinister hand of Satan. “Get thee behind me, Satan,” was the Lord’s response to Peter’s presumptuous rebuke. All around us are people bound in sin, captives to the devil. Our prayers should ascend not only for them but against Satan who holds them as his prize. Satan must be compelled to relax his grip, and this can only be achieved by Christ’s victory on the cross.

As Jesus dealt with sin’s cause rather than effect, so the spiritual leader should adopt the same method in prayer. And the leader must know how to help those under his charge who are also involved in that same spiritual warfare.

In a telling illustration, Jesus compared Satan to a strong man, fully armed. Before anyone can enter such a man’s house and set captives free, the man must first be bound. Only then can a rescue succeed (Matthew 12:29). What could it mean to “tie up the strong man” except to neutralize his might through the overcoming power of Christ who came “to destroy (nullify, render inoperative) the works of the devil”? And how can that happen except by the prayer of faith that lays hold of the victory of Calvary and claims it for the problem at hand? We cannot hope to effect a rescue from Satan’s den without first disarming the adversary. God makes available His divine authority through prayer, and we can confidently claim it. Jesus promised His disciples: “I have given you authority . . . to overcome all the power of the enemy” (Luke 10:19).

The spiritual leader will be alert to the most effective way to influence people. Hudson Taylor is well known for his expression, “It is possible to move men, through God, by prayer alone.” During his missionary career he demonstrated the truth of his claim a thousand times.

Practice

It is one thing to believe such power is available in prayer, but another thing to practice it. People are difficult to move; it is much easier to pray for things or provisions than to deal with the stubbornness of the human heart. But in just these intricate situations, the leader must use God’s power to move human hearts in the direction he believes to be the will of God. Through prayer the leader has the key to that complicated lock.

It is the supreme dignity and glory of the human creature to be able to say yes or no to God. Humans have been given free will. But this poses a problem. If by prayer we can influence the conduct of others, does such power encroach on free will? Will God temper one person’s freedom to answer another person’s prayer? It seems difficult to imagine. And yet, if prayers cannot influence the course of events, why pray?

The first point to make is that God is consistent with Himself always. God does not contradict Himself. When God promises to answer prayer, the answer will come—always in a manner consistent with divine nature, for “he cannot disown himself” (2 Timothy 2:13). No word or action from God will contradict any other word or action of God.

The second point in resolving these questions is that prayer is a divine ordinance. God has commanded prayer, and we can be confident that as we meet revealed conditions for prayer, answers will be granted. God sees no contradiction between human free will and divine response to prayer. When God commands us to pray “for kings and those in authority,” there is implied power to influence the course of men and events. If not, why pray? Our obligation to pray stands above any dilemma concerning the effects of prayer.

Third, we can know the will of God concerning the prayer we raise. Our capacity to know God’s will is the basis for all prayers of faith. God can speak to us clearly through our mind and heart. The Bible instructs us directly concerning the will of God on all matters of principle. In our hearts the Holy Spirit ministers to instruct us in the will of God (Romans 8:26–27). As we patiently seek the will of God concerning our petition, the Spirit will impress our minds and convince our hearts. Such God-given conviction leads us beyond the prayer of hope to the prayer of faith.

When God lays a burden on our hearts and thus keeps us praying, He obviously intends to grant the answer. George Mueller was asked if he really believed that two men would be converted, men for whom Mueller had prayed for over fifty years. Mueller replied: “Do you think God would have kept me praying all these years if He did not intend to save them?” In fact, both men were converted, one shortly after Mueller’s death (George Mueller [1805–1898] was a Plymouth Brethren leader who refused a salary, believing that God would supply his needs by prayer alone. He established an orphanage in Bristol for two thousand youngsters on the strength of prayer and promoted prayer during a seventeen-year world tour).

In prayer we deal directly with God and only in a secondary sense other people. The goal of prayer is the ear of God. Prayer moves others through God’s influence on them. It is not our prayer that moves people, but the God to whom we pray.

Prayer Moves The Arm That moves the world To bring deliverance down.

To move people, the leader must be able to move God, for God has made it clear that He moves people in response to prayer. If a scheming Jacob was given “power with God and with men,” then surely any leader who follows God’s prayer principles can enjoy the same power (Genesis 32:28).

Prevailing prayer that moves people is the outcome of a right relationship with God. The Bible is very clear on the reasons why prayers go unanswered, and every reason centers on the believer’s relationship with God. God will not cooperate with prayers of mere self-interest, or prayers that come from impure motives. The Christian who clings to sin closes the ear of God. Least of all will God tolerate unbelief, the chief of sins. “Anyone who comes to him must believe” (Hebrews 11:6). In all our prayers the paramount motive is the glory of God.

Great leaders of the Bible were great at prayer. “They were not leaders because of brilliancy of thought, because they were exhaustless in resources, because of their magnificent culture or native endowment, but because, by the power of prayer, they could command the power of God” (E. M. Bounds, Prayer and Praying Men. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1921). Edward McKendree Bounds [1835–1913] was an American Methodist Episcopal minister who served churches throughout the South. He was a captain in the Confederate army).

Article adapted from the classic work on Leadership by, J. Oswald Sanders (2007-05-01). Spiritual Leadership (Kindle Locations 1579-1736). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition. 

About Dr. J.O. Sanders

Dr. John Oswald Sanders (October 17, 1902—October 24, 1992) was a general director of Overseas Missionary Fellowship (then known as China Inland Mission) in the 1950s and 1960s. He authored more than forty books on the Christian life. He became an elder statesman and worldwide conference speaker from his retirement until his death. Sanders was born in Invercargill, New Zealand and gained a law degree in 1922. He attended the Bible Training Institute in Auckland and joined its staff in 1926. In 1931, he married Edith Mary Dobson. Sanders left a promising law practice in his native New Zealand to serve as an instructor and administrator at the Bible College of New Zealand. In 1954 he became general director of the China Inland Mission and led the reorganization of the CIM into the Overseas Missionary Fellowship. He was instrumental in beginning many new missions projects throughout East. Upon his retirement in 1969, he continued to teach worldwide and to write prolifically.

Do Leaders Really Need To Pray? The Role of Prayer in Leadership

How important is a leader’s prayer life? Consider the following two examples (both composite characters). Sue is a highly successful CEO who quickly advanced through the ranks of her company because of her talents, abilities and willingness to outwork most of her co-workers. She has led her institution to remarkable growth and impressive financial success. When Sue experiences a crisis in the company, she responds with creative problem solving, fierce determination and hard work. While prayer is not part of her leadership, she has amassed impressive personal possessions, wide-ranging influence and significant power. Meanwhile Tom is equally accomplished. His company is doing well financially and has a growth curve similar to Sue’s organization. Tom is very concerned about serving the Lord through his work and consistently gives God credit for his success and the growth of his company. He tithes the profits faithfully. Recently, when tensions among employees were on the rise and product orders were dropping off, he called a friend to come and pray through the plant. Given these two examples, it’s fairly obvious that prayer is not a necessity for success as a leader. There are institutions led by “non-praying” CEOs that have experienced significant financial surpluses and whose bosses are highly regarded by their employees. There are lots of leaders who never give a passing thought to getting on their knees.

But all this assumes that success is defined with the usual Western focus on materialism and achievement. It assumes that leaders can take personal credit for corporate successes, be more proud than grateful and use authority liberally with no effect on their followers. It assumes that leaders will never have to summon uncommon courage to make decisions that will be unpopular and misunderstood. It assumes that leaders will never need to make decisions in situations where all their knowledge, experience and talents will be inadequate. Finally, the idea that prayer is not essential for effective leadership assumes that every leader will never find him or herself alone and in need of a word of encouragement or affirmation.

So why pray? Perhaps because as a leader you have come to the place where you’re in so far over your head you don’t have anywhere else to turn. Perhaps you just need a word of encouragement or an extra measure of courage in a challenging crisis. I believe that leaders need prayer to stay humble, to find direction/wisdom, to act with consistent courage and to find reassurance/affirmation when they find themselves all alone.

Prayer for Humility

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others. (Phil. 2:3-4)

Malcolm Gladwell (Outliers: The Story of Success) points out that virtually every person who has achieved success has done so, not only because of their talent, intelligence and hard work, but also because of an incredible set of circumstances that has given them advantages others have not enjoyed. Most studies on the traits of effective leadership include the attribute of humility—from Kouzes and Posner to Jim Collins; from Lencione to Covey to Drucker. All of them recognize what Einstein taught: we are but a speck in an unfathomably large universe. Every leader who seeks a legacy of effectiveness realizes that he or she stands on the shoulders of someone else. They know that their abilities, opportunities and even their very breath come from the hand of God. William Loritts (Leadership as an Identity: The Four Traits of Those Who Wield Lasting Influence) writes, “For a Christian leader, brokenness is a dear friend, and pride is the enemy.” Leaders who would be grateful, humble and broken must begin on their knees, thanking God for his grace and mercy in their lives.

Prayer for Direction

Commit your works to the Lord and your plans will be established. (Prov. 16:3)

Sooner or later it happens to every leader. They find themselves in a crisis where nothing they know or have been through is adequate to inform their next decision. They have some inkling of Moses’ feelings as he saw the Red Sea in front of him and the Egyptians behind him. Or of what must have been going through Paul’s mind as he tried to collect his thoughts while sitting blind on the side of a dusty road leading to Damascus.

Zig Ziglar’s Basic Rules for Making Good Decisions includes this guideline, “I like to pray about my decisions. I ask God to help me see the truth of my motives and to lead me in the way I should go.” Prayer for direction, whether concerning trouble or trivia is indispensable for the leader who would be dedicated to following God’s plan.

Prayer for Courage

While I love the spiritual, Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho, it doesn’t present the most accurate portrayal of the biblical record. While Joshua took charge outside the walls of Jericho, it must be noted that he didn’t “fight the battle.” In the chapter prior to the battle account in Joshua 6, he meets the commander of the Lord’s army (Josh. 5:14). “At this, Joshua fell with his face to the ground in reverence. ‘I am at your command,’ Joshua said. ‘What do you want your servant to do?’” It is much easier to act with courage—to make the hard decisions, when you know that God has equipped you and empowered your leadership. You only know that by falling on your face before him.

Prayer for Reassurance and Affirmation

All great leaders get hurt. When they make decisions that are unpopular or are misunderstood, it is not unusual for the people they thought loved and cared about them to attack or leave. In the midst of the pain and frustration that results from being abandoned, the consistent, fervent prayer life of a leader is critical. It is the only way that a leader can hear the Voice above all others that says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” The reassurance of the Lord, heard when a leader takes time to listen, is the only thing that enables a person to pay the price of leadership day in and day out.

Conclusion

While most leaders are chosen because of their knowledge, experience and ability, I would suggest that their most important resource is a consistent prayer life. Prayer, the place where human beings and God meet, is the one thing that keeps us humble and gives us direction, courage and reassurance in all of life—including the times when we’re called to lead.

Why Did Jesus Have To Cleanse The Temple?

Jesus cleansed the Temple twice, but why did He do it? What was the purpose?

Jesus Cleanses the Temple

When Jesus saw all of the money changers taking advantage of those coming to exchange their currency to pay their Temple taxes and to buy animals for sacrifice for the Passover, Jesus quoted Jeremiah when He said, “Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, I myself have seen it, declares the LORD” (Jer 7:11). Jeremiah was saying this in the context of rebuking the nation of Israel, who wrote, “if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly execute justice one with another, if you do not oppress the sojourner, the fatherless, or the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own harm, then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your fathers forever” (Jer 7:5-7), so Jeremiah tells them that “this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, I myself have seen it, declares the Lord,” and in fact the Lord did see it; then and in Jesus’ day, so when Jesus went into “the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade” (John 2:13-16). To be clear, Jesus never whipped one person or one animal. He only used the whip to drive out the livestock, but never used the whip on any man or beast (Matt 21:12). He did overturn the money changers tables, but you can certainly understand why.

The Courtyard

Most biblical scholars understand that Jesus cleansing the Temple was no small accomplishment. For one thing, it was a huge operation. The part of the temple that Jesus cleansed was called the courtyard and was as far as the Gentiles could go, but the courtyard was filled to the brim with all sorts of livestock and birds which were all sold or exchanged for the sacrifices at the Temple, and this was not just a small farmer’s market. When Passover came, Jerusalem swelled to nearly half a million travelers who came to Jerusalem to make their Passover sacrifice. Josephus computed the number of Jews present in Jerusalem at Passover to be no fewer 3,000,000, and those Jews would need a lot of animals to sacrifice; whether a lamb or a bird, whichever the family could afford, so the number of lambs alone would be about a quarter of a million lambs if there were one lamb per family of 10 or so, but conservative estimates may be closer to about 300,000, at least in Jesus’ day. Still, that’s a lot of animals and in a relatively small area, and then there were the money changers who may have numbered in the thousands.

And-he-was-teaching-them

A Den of Thieves

The Jerusalem Temple sat on top of the Temple Mount, which covered about thirty-five acres, so there was sufficient space for hundreds of money changers, and since it was impossible for some of the Jews coming to Jerusalem to bring their own animals to be sacrificed, they had to buy some once they entered Jerusalem, but the problem was they were being taken advantage of, or really, exploited. One example was when they came to pay the obligatory temple tax, they often had to exchange Roman coinage into the acceptable currency. When the Pilgrims came, often from long distances, the money changers forced the Pilgrims into paying exorbitant exchange rates for their currency, so both the money changers and sellers (of livestock) were exploiting the poor, and overcharging even the poorest man’s offering (Lev 5:7). This is why Jesus cleansed the temple. He was angry at their taking advantage of the Jews. The Temple was full of thieves and greedy merchants, and sadly, the very ones responsible for all this merchandising were the priests, and they were putting their blessing on it by allowing it, because by allowing it, they were condoning it.

Still Cleaning the Temple

Jesus is coming again to cleanse the earth of sin but first of all, will deal with those who refuse to repent and trust in Christ (Rev 20:12-15). The Scriptures tell us Jesus cleansed the temple twice, once shortly after His ministry began (John 2:13-17), and another time, late in His ministry, during the Passover week (Matt 21:12), but today, Jesus is still cleansing the temple, but not the one you generally think of. Jesus was so angry at these robbers, so He “would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers” (Mark 11:16-17). Today, the temple is our bodies, and for believers, the temple is no longer necessary because the Holy Spirit dwells in and lives in every believer. It is just as the Apostle Paul wrote; our “bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit” (1st Cor 6:19), so even though Jesus might not have to make a whip out of cords, He does have to discipline us in love.

Conclusion

It is no coincidence that Jesus died at the exact moment that the Passover lamb was slain…at 3:00 PM. That’s when Jesus gave up His spirit and returned to the Father, and although Jesus never died, His physical body did, but Jesus cannot die since He is God. His death was a physical death of His body, but not the death of His Person, because He is God. God cannot die, and speaking of death, Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this” (John 11:25-26)? I hope you do believe that.

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is host of Spiritual Fitness and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.