1. Acquire prayer power by learning how to abide in Christ. Spurgeon writes, “It is by abiding in union with Christ that we receive the purity, the joy, the power, and the blessings that are stored up in Christ for His people.”
But how do we do it? How do we abide in union with Him? Basically, abiding in Him means that we remain in Him, or that we be connected to Him just as a branch is to a vine. Then, also, it means that we draw nourishment from Him, just as a branch does from the vine.
With that illustration in mind, here are three things that you can do that will keep that spiritual nourishment flowing from Him to you.
(1) Listen to the voice of God. If you desire to abide in Christ, the first thing you should do is listen to God to find out what His will is for you. I would suggest that you feed daily on the Word of God, because God speaks to us from His Word. After you have fed on the Word, pray over it, and surrender to God with the intent to obey whatever He tells you to do—listening closely for His instructions (Is. 30:21).
If you sense that He has spoken to you from the Word, that is, if He has put before you a passage from the Word that clearly instructs you in what to do, by all mean do it.
(2) Be obedient to God. In John 15:10 Jesus said to His disciples, and He says to us, “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” Therefore, abiding is obeying; and as we see here, obeying Him is not just being busy doing what He says; it is all about loving Him and abiding in His love, for when we obey Him we prove that we love Him. And then in return, both the Father and the Son will love us. And Jesus will show Himself to us (Jn. 14:21).
This is where the good part starts. This is where we really get to know Him, where our hearts and minds are joined and where we become acquainted with His ways, His desires, and His will, to the extent that whatever we ask from Him we receive (Jn. 15:7). This is the prayer power that is ours when we obey Him and abide in Him.
(3) Work for God. When we love God and are obedient to Him, we go to work for Him. This is how it should be. This is what God has planned from the beginning of time—that His children would do His work.
And what is the work of God? I would say, generally, it is doing what God has created us to do, mainly to use our gifts and talents for the benefit of the kingdom of God and for the love of God and others. More specifically, it is bringing others to Christ and helping them to grow in Christ; it is making disciples (Matt. 28:19-20). It is also the work of praying—praying for your disciples, and also praying that God would send out more disciples (or laborers) into His harvest fields (Lu. 10:2).
If you practice these three things—listening, obeying and working—I believe you will be abiding in Christ. And the result will be a growing prayer power.
And here are some things that will accompany this power: your prayers will not be out of duty, or selfishness, but out of a love for God and by the joy that He gives you.
Spurgeon writes, “Prayer comes spontaneously from those who abide in Jesus.”
Again Spurgeon writes about the attitude abiders have when they go to prayer:
They do not say to themselves, ‘It is time for us to get to our task and pray.’ No, they pray as wise men eat—namely, when the desire for it is upon them. They do not cry out as under bondage, ‘At this time I ought to be in prayer, but I do not feel like it. What a weariness it is!’ They have a glad errand at the mercy seat and rejoice to go there…Prayer surrounds them as an atmosphere all day long.
When this attitude of prayer fills your heart, you will know that your abiding has paid off. Then soon you will experience the real power that God has intended for you all along—namely, you will see the promise of John 15:7 fulfilled: “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.”
2. Acquire prayer power by developing a life of prayer. Anybody can pray, but do you work at trying to improve your prayers. If you want your prayers to be more powerful you must put some work into it. I would suggest developing these three areas of your prayer life:
Your study of prayer. Read all you can about prayer. Study especially those passages in the Bible that have to do with prayer. The more you study and learn about prayer, the more God will increase your desire to pray and your ability to pray better and with more power.
Your private prayers. Never neglect your private prayers. They should come before all other prayers. When you pray privately you are building a strong love relationship with God; you are learning how to hear His voice. I would suggest that you have a daily appointment with God. Try never to miss that daily prayer time.
After you have gotten in the habit of praying every day at an appointed time, work also at praying at different times and for longer periods of time. The more you pray (if your heart is in it) the more powerful your prayers will be. I sincerely believe that we will reap in prayer what we sow in prayer.
Group prayer. Group prayer is also very important. Christianity would not have survived, nor will it survive in the future without this kind of prayer. It is what God has designed for His church.
The benefits of group prayer are enormous. The united and unified prayers of a group have been known to quickly bring the Holy Spirit to help its members: to bring the wonderful presence of God, and to release many from fear. The prayers of a group not only benefit the members of the group, but they also go out to affect many others; for when its members pray in agreement, the Holy Spirit will give power to answer their prayers.
Thus you should work on developing not only your private prayers, but also your group prayers. Start by getting to know those you pray with better. Talk to them more. Spend more time with them. Then when you pray with them you will notice the difference. You will pray with more love and concern for them. And God will bring more power to your group. You can continue strengthening your group by praying for the needs of each member outside of the group. Pray for them every chance you get.
The key to powerful group prayer is the love and fellowship you have developed together. If you don’t feel the love in the group while praying you must develop it when you are not praying. It is so important for members to get to know each other—to work together and play together. So go camping together! Go hiking together! Do ministry projects together! Jesus’ disciples and those in the early church are our best examples. They ministered together and spent much time together, and when they prayed their prayer were powerful (e. g. Acts 1:14; 2:1-4; 4:23-31). If you do these things that I have suggested, when you come together to pray, believe me, you will feel the power of God in your prayers. It will be a power that not only benefits the group, but will go out beyond the group to all those that are prayed for.
3. Acquire prayer power by developing your faith. Bill Hybels has said, “A ‘prayer warrior’ is a person who is convinced that God is omnipotent—that God has power to do anything, to change anyone and to intervene in any circumstance.”
Yes, those who have power in prayer have a powerful faith in God’s ability. Conversely, the person who has no power in prayer is a person who is self-reliant; that is, he tries to do everything in his own power. His prayers are only a ritual, or not much more than a source of comfort and a help to aid him in his own strength.
We [most of us] reach out to God, because we know He is holding out loving arms toward us. But then we often fall back and try to face our difficulties in our own power, because at some basic and perhaps unconscious level we doubt if God really can make a difference in the problems we are facing…we don’t believe God has the power to do anything about them.But the fact is, God does care about our problems, and He is able to work them out all by Himself. All we need to do is trust Him and then obey Him. He will show us what to do in His power. Again Hybels states, “His supernatural strength is available to praying people who are convinced to the core of their being that He can make a difference.”
And when we pray, we must believe that God is willing and able to answer quickly—so quickly, in fact, that as soon as we pray for something we should believe that we have already received it. The Bible says in Mark 11:24, “Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you” (NASU). Notice that it does not say you “shall” receive them, but believe that you “have” received them. In other words, we are to regard our situation and our prayers as if we have already received our requests, and to act as if we have them. This is what real trusting faith is all about. It is relying totally on God with no worries.
Okay, you are probably thinking, I know that is how I should believe. But I just don’t believe that way. I am too self-reliant and I tend to worry. So what steps can I take to strengthen and develop my faith?
First of all, let me tell you what you should not do, or what faith is not. Then I will give you four things you can do to strengthen your faith.
Here is what faith is not. It is not positive thinking; it is not something we conjure up in our mind and develop by our own positive thinking. It is not a trust in our own strength; it is not a belief in ourselves. No, faith has nothing to do with our own strength or of how positive we can think. It is all about our reliance upon God and about how much we are able to trust Him. Here are four things you can do to strengthen your faith:
(1) Read about God’s power. This is Bill Hybel’s suggestion. He says that the way to build faith is to read and re-read all the stories in the Bible about God’s power—to read them until we are convinced that they really happened. I agree with Hybels, but I also think there should be a balance to our Bible reading. So besides reading over and over the stories about God’s power, I suggest reading through the entire Bible. Try to do it every year or at least every two years.
(2) Consistently dig into the Word. Dig into the Word of God every day, and listen to His voice with the intention of obeying Him. The Bible tells us in Romans 10:17, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” This means that faith begins to develop in us as we listen to His Word. And when we truly listen to Him and hear what He tells us, we will also take action to obey Him. The more we obey Him the more we will see Him working powerfully through us. This experience of seeing His power at work in us is when our faith really grows.
(3) Maintain a consistent prayer life. Try to be consistent in your prayer life. Make it a habit to pray for at least ten or fifteen minutes every day at a designated time of the day. This prayer time may be a part of your quiet time, when you also dig into the Word; but you can also pray at other times when you just pray. Anyway, make it your goal to develop a close personal relationship with God. Interact with Him on everything you read; talk to Him about everything you do. Take notes to remember what He tells you, and what He shows you. As you get to know His ways, His personal words to you, and how He loves you, you will grow to love Him and trust Him. Through it all, you will no doubt see His mighty power at work in your life and prayers.
(4) Try fasting. If you desire to have power in prayer but you just can’t seem to find it through any of the things you have tried, try fasting along with prayer. Fasting will not only cleanse the body of impurities, but, if it is done in the spirit of holiness and in the spirit of prayer, God will use it to cleanse and empower your soul.
The above is an excerpt from my book Prayer A to Z, soon to be published.