In order to pray with a true heart, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” we must have God’s power.
When we think of God’s will it is crucial to consider that there is much work to be done—of which both prayers and service are involved. The work of prayer is mainly a work or a battle of the mind, in which we work and battle constantly to keep our mind yielded to God and focused on the requests at hand and on what God is telling us.
As for the work of service, this would be mainly the work of preaching, teaching, helping and counseling, etc. This work must also be bathed in the work of prayer, for we cannot serve without also praying. In fact, we cannot do one without the other; and both require God’s power.
In John 14:12 Jesus gave us an incredible promise: that we shall do greater works than He did. He said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.” What a promise! But how is this possible? What did He mean?
Well, there are some who believe as Matthew Henry, who said that since Jesus healed the sick, cleansed the lepers, raised the dead, converted sinners, and drew multitudes to Himself, so should we be able to. Henry goes on to say that Jesus’ disciples did indeed do the same miracles and more. “Christ performed miracles for two or tree years in one country, but his followers performed miracles in his name for many ages in various countries.”
Then there are others such as Homer Kent Jr. who said, “This certainly did not mean that believers would perform more amazing physical miracles that Jesus did (e. g., stilling the storm, feeding 5000)…These great works would be spiritual ones in which the good news of Christ’s death and resurrection would be proclaimed as the transforming power for sinful men.”
I do not believe, as Matthew Henry does, that the works spoken of here are miracles. I agree with Kent. The “greater works” He spoke about I think mainly refers to the proclamation of the gospel for the conversion of souls. We definitely see that happening all over the world.
Now the reason Jesus gave for saying that we would do greater works was, “because I go to the Father.” What He meant was that when He would take that high position with His Father He then would have the capacity to furnish believers with power to do greater works. Accordingly, after Jesus was resurrected, His Father gave Him “all power in heaven and earth”; and then He granted that power to us as a gift when He got to heaven.
That gift of His power now comes to us in three ways: (1) by His intercession, because now in heaven He is always interceding for us; (2) by prayer, because we can now pray in His name and He will give us whatever we ask for; and (3) by the Holy Spirit, because when He got to heaven He sent the Holy Spirit to be with us and to aid us and comfort us in all we do.
These three things were not going on when Jesus was on earth. He did not have the capacity to intercede as He does now. Also, believers were not able to pray in His name as we do now (because they did not have the Holy Spirit in them and Jesus was not in heaven to intercede for them as He is now).
Therefore, what we are saying here in regard to doing God’s work, is that now, more than ever, He will give us all the power we need to do that work when we ask in His name. Just think of it, all believers having the mighty power of our resurrected Lord through prayer. It is no wonder that we can do greater works than He did.
The following are two areas of God’s work in which the power of God is demonstrated through our prayers:
The work of spiritual warfare. The work of spiritual warfare is most definitely a work of prayer, for when we pray according to the will of God, God works by force through His mighty power to destroy the enemy. We see this illustrated so well in Exodus 17:8-13. In this account, Joshua did the work of fighting the battle and Moses all the while was praying.
Here is the account of what actually happened: Verse 11 says, “So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed.” Then verse 12 tells us that when Moses’ hands got heavy Aaron and Hur held his hands up, one on one side and one on the other. Therefore, because Moses’ hands were continually held up (in prayer), Joshua defeated the armies of Amalek. This is a marvelous illustration of power through prayer and how prayer must be constant in order for God to prevail over our enemies.
This story also illustrates well how we ought to have prayer partners that will hold us up and encourage us in prayer. For just as Moses’ arms got tired and needed someone to hold them up, we also have a tendency to fail in prayer, and in those times we need someone to come along and encourage us and pray for us and with us.
The work of preaching, teaching and evangelizing. All who were great preachers, teachers, and evangelists were also great in prayer. We know for instance that men such as Charles Spurgeon, G. Campbell Morgan, and R. A. Torry, who were great preachers and teachers, were also great in prayer. Likewise the great evangelists’ as John Wesley, Charles Finney, and D. L. Moody have all been mighty in prayer. The power these men had to influence the world did not come from their mastery of speech or their great giftedness. Though God indeed gave them these gifts, the power came to them directly from God through prayer.
Someone once said, “When we work we work; but when we pray God works.” There have been many so called great scholars and gifted teachers who have written many books and given many lectures, but, because they were not men of prayer, all their work did nothing but put us to sleep! Hence, scholarship and giftedness amounts to nothing without the power of prayer. But the preacher who is dedicated to a life of prayer, whether he be gifted by God or not, will soon discover the power of God working wondrously through his life and ministry.
(This post is an excerpt from my book Joy of Prayer)