- Powerful prayers are unified.
Why? Because God longs for His people to come together in prayer:
If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. — 2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV, emphasis added
Notice what happens when God’s people humble themselves, seek His face, and turn away from sin. God hears their prayers, forgives their sins, and heals their land.
With all that’s happening in our world today at every level, this promise seems more urgent perhaps than ever before. People are looking for solutions that only God can provide. But it begins when we come together with our hearts aligned by the same purpose, to pray in unity. Jesus reinforced this truth when He told His followers:
Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in Heaven. Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in Heaven. For where two or three gather in My name, there am I with them. — Matthew 18:18–20 NIV
Praying the Promises: Scriptural Prayer
You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: ‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? — Acts 4:25 NIV
Notice how they described the motivation behind praying God’s Word back to Him — that the Holy Spirit wrote the Bible. Someone in their group, or perhaps everyone in their group, thought of this passage from Psalm 2, which fit their scenario perfectly.
How does quoting the Bible back to God infuse power in our prayers? By turning to His promises for our particular needs, we glorify Him. His Word assures us,
For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding ‘Yes!’ And through Christ, our ‘Amen’ (which means ‘Yes’) ascends to God for His glory. — 2 Corinthians 1:20 NLT
All of God’s promises — and the Bible contains about four thousand of them — have been fulfilled in Christ. They are already completed. When we claim them and echo our “amens,” we praise God for His glory.
If you’ve ever heard me pray, then you’ve probably heard me quote Scripture in my prayer. I love trusting God’s promises and resting in the peace and confidence of knowing He always fulfills His Word. Sometimes I hear people pray in a way that seems so wishy-washy: “Okay, Lord, whatever You want, Your will be done. If You can help my kids stay out of trouble and not stray from You, that would be great.”
Those kinds of prayers seem lacking in the certainty we have in the promises found in the Bible. When praying for my family, I’m not doing it half-heartedly with an anything-goes attitude. I’m believing that based on Joshua 24:15 — my kids and grandkids will serve the Lord! After someone broke into our first apartment and robbed us, Tammy and I prayed Psalm 144 — there will be no breaching of our walls and no going into captivity.
Everyone who hears these words of Mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. — Matthew 7:24 NIV
When we pray God’s promises, we’re putting Jesus’ words into practice, laying a firm foundation for our lives. So anytime I have a problem, big or small, I find a promise to pray. Praying God’s promises exercises my faith and strengthens it at the same time.
This isn’t a “name it and claim it” formula or “blab it and grab it” gimmick. When you pray the promises of God, you’re focusing on God’s power and limitless resources rather than the problem or your own very limited ability to solve it. Your heavenly Father is bigger than any situation you’ll encounter, no matter how painful or scary or uncertain it may seem in the moment.
Whatever you’re going through, find a verse for the situation and trust God for the result. Pray His promises and trust in His power to be revealed. For example, here are a few of my favorites to get you started. (All scriptures are taken from the NIV.)
- Challenges — 1 John 4:4; Luke 10:19; Romans 8:37 (“We are more than conquerors.”)
- Finances — Psalm 1:1–3; Philippians 4:19 (“My God will meet all your needs.”)
- Troubling emotions — Psalm 27:1 (“The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?”)
- Health — Psalm 103:2–3 (“Praise the Lord . . . [who] heals all your diseases.”)
- Confidence — 2 Corinthians 3:6 (“He has made us competent.”)
- Safety — Psalm 121:8 (“The Lord will watch over your coming and going.”)
- Even the dentist! — Psalm 81:10 (“Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.” Okay, maybe that’s not what this verse is talking about!)
With Hearts Undaunted: Bold Prayer
Powerful prayers are unified, they draw on God’s promises, and finally, they demonstrate boldness. Notice that the way Peter and John acted certainly displayed this quality, but boldness is also something their group requested going forward. They didn’t want to rest on past events but wanted to be conduits of God’s power:
Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus. — Acts 4:29–30 NIV
Apparently, God answered this prayer right away:
After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. — Acts 4:31 NIV
When we request this same kind of boldness, it indicates how much we’re willing to rely on God — and to be used by Him. We demonstrate that our emotions and circumstances cannot get in the way of God’s Spirit.
God seems to delight in answering our request for His boldness. We’re told,
The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. — James 5:16 NKJV
The two adjectives here — effective and fervent — are actually one word in the Greek, energeo. As you might suspect, it’s connected with the idea of energy, especially the kind that’s red-hot, on fire, and boiling over. This is the kind of boldness in prayer that reflects God’s mighty power.
No wonder then that the devil likes weak prayers — ones that are passive and detached, distracted and disengaged. But I’m convinced we insult God with timid prayers and tepid faith. If our prayers are possible for us to fulfill, then they disrespect God because we don’t really require His divine intervention or supernatural power.
- God honors bold prayers because bold prayers honor God.
When we pray with the same passionate commitment as those first believers described in the New Testament, we transcend the limitations imposed on us by others — and ourselves. We rely on God and trust in His ability to do what we can never do for ourselves. To see God’s power unleashed, pray in unity, pray the promises of Scripture, and pray boldly.
And no matter what you’re doing — pray first!
Excerpted with permission from Pray First by Chris Hodges, copyright Chris Hodges.
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Are you praying energeo prayers? Let’s be consistent and passionate in our prayers, humble and repentant, and honor God with our boldness. His promise is to hear, forgive, and heal! ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full