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Tuesday
Aug162016

Prayer is a Possibility  

(This is the last segment of “Your Prayer Relationship: Jesus as Your Confidante.”)

Through prayer, we possess a limitless power to put thoughts into words.  We can literally pray about anything.  Of course, many things we pray about may not be the will of God, but the possibility remains for us to talk to God without restraint.  The limits on our prayers are self-imposed.  God puts no such limitations on us; indeed, He encourages us to engage in seemingly impossible ventures through faith and prayerBut Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26. The Apostle Paul blew the top off of possibility praying.  Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us. Ephesians 3:20. Here are some endless possibilities in prayer:

A mystical experience.  Despite the common connotation of mystical, the word actually refers to “religious awe,” not the black arts or magic.  There is a realm of prayer into which believers can enter that puts them in touch with forces and beings not of this world.  The Apostle Paul spoke of this kind of experience when he said, “I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord: I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a one was caught up to the third heaven. And I know such a man—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows—how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.” 2 Corinthians 12:1-4.  Most scholars agree that the “man” he referred to was himself.  The purpose of this experience was probably to inform him of the reality of the spirit world.  He wrote of this reality in other passages of the New Testament.  Whatever it was, he considered it a high privilege of which he could have boasted had he chosen to do so. 

The ability to see prayer as a mystical experience empowers us to pray with understanding.  Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Romans 8:26. Carnal prayers are predicated upon natural senses and natural understanding.  Praying in the Spirit requires us to see vast, spiritual powers at work. 

A release of the Spirit’s activity. Some have wondered why we cannot think our prayers instead of pray or prayers.  The answer is not clear in the Bible, but there seems to be at least three reasons why we need to pray aloud.  First, we need to hear our own words as we speak them.  Something happens to us when we vocalize our thoughts. It makes them real and viable, and it aids our understanding.  For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding.  1 Corinthians 14:14-15. 

Second, speaking out loud activates or releases the ministering spirits. Jesus, as God manifest in the flesh, could have internalized all His prayers, but He spoke them out loud, as we read in multiple verses, most significantly in John seventeen. 

Last, we pray out loud as an attack against Satan.  There is no indication in the Scriptures that the devil invades our thoughts.  Therefore, we must verbally address evil spirits.  But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And he came out that very hour. Acts 16:18. Spiritual victories do not just happen by themselves.  Only prayer makes them happen.  

The key to damaged relationships.  God puts his infinite wisdom on display when we are told to pray for our enemies.  The significance of this prayer may not be the affect it has on our enemies, but the attitudinal adjustment that happens in our own heartsBut I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.  Matthew 5:44. 

Damaged relationships often result from misunderstandings, petty grievances and differences of opinions.  Sometimes, however, deeper dysfunctions, like bruised egos and wounded pride lie at the heart of conflicts in relationships.  It is dangerous to dismiss these problems as “normal,” and “that’s life,” or to insist that “they will get over it,” as though there is nothing you can do about it.  Pride often blocks sins of commission or omission from our view.  Prayer probes around the edges of conflicts, and, if done honestly, it will uncover secret faults in your own heart.  

What if you find that the fault for a problem stems from something within you?  What if you realize that you are the one who needs to initiate the steps to make things right?  Too many people loathe to admit mistakes.  If you know what you need to do, and yet you are reluctant to follow through, you must go to prayer.  Prayer makes difficult assignments easier.  It “greases the skids” for reconciliation, forgiveness, acts of kindness and forbearance.  Prayer holds the possibility for peace, and peace opens the door for love, cooperation and the joy of unity.  Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! Psalm 133:1.

A channel for physical and emotional therapy.  As we discovered in the earlier chapter on your emotional relationship with God, He desires us to live above the turmoil and anxiety of life.  Yet, all of us battle these feelings to some degree.  A rich practice of prayer activates the emotional, as well as physical healing that brings tranquility to our lives.  Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. James 5:13-15. 

The source of many problems in our bodies and minds are organic.  Even the Scriptures show that medicinal remedies may be used as treatment for these problems.  But there are other afflictions that are spiritual in cause and nature.  These must be addressed through prevailing prayer.  And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up. But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, “Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.” And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. Luke 13:11-13.  Evidently, this woman was bound by a foul spirit, not an organic condition.  

Prayer is a place, a practice and a possibility.  Archimedes said in the Doric speech of Syracuse: “Give me a place to stand and with a lever I will move the whole world.”  Prayer is the place to stand.  It is also the lever by which we can move the world.  Never minimize the humble act of prayer.  So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done.  And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” Matthew 21:21-22.

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