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How to Pray with Power

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How can we pray with power? 1. We must take action by asking. 2. We must expand our expectations. 3. We must lift up our prayers in the Lord's name. 4. We must count on the Lord's commitments.

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How to Pray with Power

The Gospel of John

John 14:12-14 (Read vs. 1-14)

Sermon by Rick Crandall

Grayson Baptist Church - August 9, 2017

(Revised January 28, 2020)

BACKGROUND:

*Here in the last few hours before the cross, Jesus spoke to His disciples about the most important things, and one of those things was prayer. In vs. 13-14 the Lord made amazing promises to answer prayer. How do these promises apply to us today? Let's look into God's Word and see. We'll begin by reading John 14:1-14.

MESSAGE:

*Remember when you were little, if you really wanted something, you'd ask for a promise. "Promise me you'll get me that toy." "Promise me you won't get mad, if I tell you what I did." Did you ever say things like that?

*People like promises. And here in vs. 12, we see one of the most amazing promises in the whole Bible. Here Jesus 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."

*This promise is so amazing and so big in scope that we might pass it by without stopping to consider the impact of its truth. Again, Jesus 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."

*This is the Lord's promise. Now the question is: Are we doing those greater works Jesus talked about in vs. 12? If not, then either Jesus wasn't telling the truth, or we need to change our experience. But Jesus always tells the truth. In fact, John 14:6 tells us that Jesus IS the truth. He is 100 percent honest 100 percent of the time, so we need to change our experience. But how can we do that?

*The answer is in vs. 13-14, where the Lord made some powerful promises about prayer. In these verses, Jesus said, "Whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it."

*The promise of great works in vs. 12 relies on the prayers in vs. 13-14. And these verses show us how to pray with power.

1. FIRST: WE MUST TAKE ACTION BY ASKING

*Again in vs. 13-14, Jesus said, "Whatever you ASK in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ASK anything in My name, I will do it."

*Notice that God wants us to ask Him for things in prayer. There can be no doubt about this truth, and we see the same truth in many other Scriptures. When Jesus teaches us to pray, He teaches us to ask.

*In Matthew 6:9-13, Jesus used the Lord's Prayer to teach His disciples how to pray. Listen for all the asking in this prayer. Jesus said:

9. "In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name.

10. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

11. Give us this day our daily bread.

12. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

13. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen."

*There is a whole lot of asking in the Lord's Prayer, but also listen to the Lord in Matthew 7:7-11. There, Jesus said:

7. "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

8. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

9. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?

10. Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent?

11. If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!"

*When Jesus teaches us to pray, He teaches us to ask, so we don't have to feel guilty about asking. God wants us to ask. Of course, He also wants us to offer up prayers of praise, thanksgiving and confession. But God wants us to ask! That's why the Bible is filled with God's great promises to answer the prayers of His people.

*For another example, in Philippians 4:6-7 Paul tells Christians to "be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

*God's Word is filled with great promises to answer the prayers of His people. And we can always stand on the promises of God. Pioneer missionary Adoniram Judson certainly trusted in God's promises. Over in Burma, Judson was lying in a terrible, filthy jail with 30 pounds of chains on his ankles. His feet were shackled to a bamboo pole.

*Another sarcastic, unbelieving prisoner tried to goad the missionary by asking this question, "Dr. Judson, what about the prospect of the conversion of the heathen?" Dr. Judson instantly replied, "The prospects are just as bright as the promises of God."

*Adoniram Judson certainly trusted in the promises of God, so did pioneer missionary Hudson Taylor. During an extremely trying time in their work in China, Hudson Taylor wrote these faith-filled words to his wife: "We have twenty-five cents, -- and all the promises of God!" (1)

*What faith! That's the kind of faith God wants us to have when we pray. God wants us to ask! And the reason why is because He wants to give! As Paul said in Romans 8:31-32, "If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?"

*God wants us to ask, but He doesn't make us pray. God gives us the choice to pray, and too often we don't pray like we should. James 4:2 says, "You do not have because you do not ask." And Billy Graham once said, "Heaven is full of answers to prayers for which no one ever bothered to ask." (2)

*God wants us to ask Him for everyday things, for eternal things, for everything we need in life. A. C. Dixon once said, "When we depend upon organizations, we get what organizations can do; When we depend upon education, we get what education can do; When we depend upon man, we get what man can do; But when we depend on prayer, we get what God can do!" (3)

*Your prayers can make an everlasting difference in countless lives, including your own. Brian Roennfeldt is a pastor who lives in Australia. Listen to his testimony about the power of prayer. Brian said:

"My wife, Angie, went to a rough high school. There were few Christians there apart from one teacher, Mr. David Bunton, who taught manual arts.

*Years after Mr. Bunton left his position, dozens of his former students became believers. Many have entered the ministry and become pastors and missionaries. I tracked down Mr. Bunton, who is now 70 years old and retired. He was stunned and choked with emotion when I told him of the many conversions since he had taught at that high school.

*I wondered how his influence had brought such a harvest. He told me that many times he had prayed softly over his classes as he sat back in his desk and watched them work. But apart from this, he'd done nothing to influence these students toward Christ. The only common point of spiritual connection the students shared was that they were prayed over by their teacher." (4)

*Prayer has far more impact than we realize. God hears our prayers! He wouldn't ask us to pray, if He didn't plan on hearing us, so we must take the action of asking.

2. WE ALSO MUST EXPAND OUR EXPECTATIONS.

*In John 14:13, the infinite boundary of our prayer expectation is summed up in one word: "WHATEVER." There Jesus said, "WHATEVER you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son."

*Of course, this "whatever" means whatever things are in the will of God. God's Word makes this truth clear in 1 John 5:14-15. There John said this to us as Christians:

14. . . This is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.

15. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

*Within the bounds of our Heavenly Father's will, the measure of our prayers should be WHATEVER: Big things, small things, everything, whatever. That's why we should expect great things in answer to our prayers. But what are we expecting?

*Kind Duncan told about a little girl who wrote a letter to one of the missionaries overseas. Now, there were many more children writing letters, than there were missionaries overseas. So, the teacher warned the kids not to expect an answer from the missionary, but it didn't turn out like the teacher expected, because this little girl's letter said: "Dear Rev. Smith, We are praying for you. We are not expecting an answer." (5)

*Church: We don't want to pray like her letter sounded! Let's pray, expecting that God will answer according to His great promises and His perfect will. Let's pray, expecting God to do great things in answer to our prayers. We must expand our expectations.

3. WE ALSO MUST LIFT UP OUR PRAYERS IN THE LORD'S NAME.

*We know that praying in the Lord's name is important, because Jesus tells us twice in vs. 13-14:

13. "And whatever you ask IN MY NAME, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

14. If you ask anything IN MY NAME, I will do it.

*It is very important for us to pray in Jesus' name. But this does not simply mean adding Jesus's name to the end of our prayers. Praying in Jesus' name means a whole lot more, because names in the Bible meant a whole lot more.

*We give names to our children, maybe because it belonged to someone else we love, or maybe it was the name of a hero or someone famous. Sometimes we give biblical names to our children, and sometimes we just like the sound of a certain name. But we need to understand that names in the Bible had much more significance. Jason Dulle explained that in the Bible "a person's name signified their person, worth, character, reputation, authority, will and ownership." (6)

*A great Old Testament example for us is Jacob. Jacob's parents, Isaac and Rebekah, had been childless for 20 years when God answered Isaac's prayer and gave them twin sons. Genesis 25:22-26 tells us that:

22. . . the children struggled together within her; and she said, "If all is well, why am I this way?'' So she went to inquire of the Lord.

23. And the Lord said to her: "Two nations are in your womb, two peoples shall be separated from your body; one people shall be stronger than the other, and the older shall serve the younger.''

24. So when her days were fulfilled for her to give birth, indeed there were twins in her womb.

25. And the first came out red. He was like a hairy garment all over; so they called his name Esau.

26. Afterward his brother came out, and his hand took hold of Esau's heel; so his name was called Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them.

*Jacob's name meant "heel catcher," but it also meant "supplanter." That is someone who wrongfully takes the place of another through force, scheming, or strategy. And Jacob surely lived up to his name. He lied and tricked his older brother Esau out of both his birthright and his blessing.

*Now, God had said that Esau the older brother would serve Jacob the younger, but their father Isaac stubbornly rejected God's choice of the younger son. When it came to the crucial family blessing, Isaac wanted to give the blessing to his favorite son, Esau. But Rebekah led her favorite, Jacob, to use lies and tricks to deceive his blind, old father Isaac.

*And since the blessing usually went to the firstborn son, Esau was greatly offended. He hated his younger brother so much that he planned to murder Jacob just as soon as their father passed away. Mom desperately wanted her favorite to be out of harm's way, and she persuaded Isaac to send Jacob to her brother's home to search for a godly wife.

*Twenty years later in Genesis 31:3, "The Lord said to Jacob, 'Return to the land of your fathers and to your family, and I will be with you.'" So, Jacob headed home with his 4 wives, 11 children and the vast fortune God had put into his hand.

*Twenty years had gone by, but the danger had not gone away. Genesis 32 tells us that Esau was coming to meet Jacob with 400 men, so Jacob prayed for deliverance, and God answered in a most unusual way. In the dark of the night, the Lord came down as a man and jumped on Jacob.

*In Genesis 32:24-28, Jacob wrestled with the Lord all night. And of course, the Lord allowed Jacob to hang on, but Jacob would not let go until the Lord blessed him. And in Genesis 32:28, God said: "Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed." There, God was saying, "Don't call this man 'Liar' and 'Cheat' anymore. He is a new man, with a new character and a new family. Call him a prince, a child of the King!" (7)

*And when we trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, we get a new name! We are Christians, followers of Christ. And 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new."

*Church: When we keep all of this in mind, we understand that praying in Jesus' name means much more than simply saying His name.

[1] ONE THING IT MEANS IS ADOPTING THE LORD'S ATTITUDE.

*William MacDonald explained that "To ask in Jesus' name is to ask in accordance with His mind and will. It is to ask for those things which will glorify God, bless mankind, and be for our own spiritual good. Also, to ask in Christ's Name, we must live in close fellowship with Him. Otherwise we would not know His attitude.

*The closer we are to Him, the more our desires will be the same as His are. . . And as prayers of this nature are presented and granted, it causes great glory to be brought to God." (8)

*William Barclay added, "The test of any prayer is this: 'Can I make it in the name of Jesus?' No man, for instance, could pray for personal revenge, for personal ambition, for some unworthy and unchristian object in the name of Jesus. When we pray, we must always ask: 'Can we honestly make this prayer in the name of Jesus?'" (9)

[2] PRAYING IN JESUS' NAME MEANS ADOPTING THE LORD'S ATTITUDE. IT ALSO MEANS APPLYING THE LORD'S AUTHORITY.

*Jesus said for us to, "Ask in my name." Here the Lord was signaling a new dimension of praying that had never been used before. And the Lord stressed this truth in John 16:20-24. This was still on the night before the cross, and Jesus said this to His disciples:

20. "Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy.

21. A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.

22. Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.

23. And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.

24. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full."

*Ron Dunn was a wonderful preacher and evangelist for many years. He went home to be with the Lord in 2001. I got to be in one of his classes in the early 1990s, and Ron shared how the Lord made praying in Jesus' name real to him.

*Ron used to pray at the end of the day, and one Tuesday had been very busy with paperwork and meetings, nothing spiritual all day. That night Ron began his prayer by saying, "Dear Lord, I know I don't have the right to ask anything tonight."

*And Ron said it seemed as though the Lord said, "Well if the day had been better would you feel more like praying? If you had already prayed 8 hours, and led 100 people to Me today, you wouldn't be any more qualified than you are right now." Then Ron told the class, "The floor of prayer room is not sprinkled with our sweat. It is sprinkled with the blood of Jesus!" (10)

*Church: Praying in the name of Jesus is coming before God by what Jesus has done. He died on the cross for our sins. He paid the price. And Jesus rose again from the dead! So, after we trust in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we come before the Father, not in our own righteousness, but in the Lord's perfect righteousness.

*That is why we pray in the name of Jesus, and Hebrews 4:14-16 says:

14. Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.

15. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.

16. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

*In order to pray with power, we must lift up our prayers in the Lord's name.

4. BUT WE ALSO NEED TO COUNT ON HIS COMMITMENT.

*In vs. 13-14, Jesus gave us a double promise of His commitment, In vs. 13, "Whatever you ask in My name, THAT I WILL DO." And again in vs. 14: "If you ask anything in My name, I WILL DO IT."

*The Lord backs our prayers with the promise of His power! And this is the only way we can do those greater works in vs. 12. You see, it's not really us. It's the Lord working in us and through us.

*So, we have the promise of the Lord's power, but we have to count on His commitment. As Jesus said in vs. 12, "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."

*This points us to something very important: Our faith is not in our faith. We make that mistake when we say things like, "If only I believed enough my prayers would be answered." Our faith must not be in our faith. Our faith is in Jesus Christ! Our faith is in God! We don't trust in our faith. We trust in Him!

*That's why Ron Dunn told the story of a trip he took to Colorado. It was in the middle of winter, and Ron's friend took him out to see some trout lakes. They first came to pond that was frozen over. And Ron's friend gave him this challenge: "Ron, why don't you get out on the ice?"

*"No sir!" Ron replied, "It's not thick enough." Ron's friend said, "Go ahead Preacher. It may be your only chance to walk on water!"

*Finally he persuaded Ron, and Ron very carefully tip-toed out about one foot before rushing back to bank. Then they drove over the hill to another frozen pond, and there was a man right out in middle of that pond. He was sitting on a crate, surrounded by all kinds of fishing gear. That man even had a heater with him out on the ice!

*Ron asked his friend. "Where did he get up enough nerve to get out in the middle?" And his friend replied, "Oh; He lives around here. He knows the ice." (10)

*Church, the more we know Jesus, the more we will know that He is worthy of our trust. And we can always count on Him.

CONCLUSION:

*We need to know Jesus more closely every day, because the more we know Jesus Christ, the more we will trust Him. And the more we trust Him, the more we will be able to pray with power.

*Listen to the Lord again:

12. "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.

13. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

14. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it."

*Let's trust in the Lord more than ever, as we go back to God in prayer.

(1) W. Wiersbe, WYCLIFFE HANDBOOK OF PREACHING & PREACHERS, p. 242 - Source: Sermonillustrations.com

(2) SermonCentral illustration contributed by D. Greg Ebie - Source: Billy Graham

(3) SermonCentral illustration contributed by Dana Chau

(4) PreachingToday.com, Brian Roennfeldt, Perth, West Australia - Source: SermonCentral sermon "Standing in the Gap" by Russell Brownworth - 1 Timothy 2:1

(5) TODAY'S BETTER LIFE, Winter 93, p. 55 -Source: Sermons.com sermon "Advice for Soldiers at the Front" by King Duncan - Ephesians 6:10-20

(6) "The Biblical Significance of Names, Particularly as it Relates to Prayer and Baptism" by Jason Dulle - JasonDulle@yahoo.com - http://www.onenesspentecostal.com/names.htm

(7) Adapted from EXPLORING GENESIS by John Phillips, Kregal Publications, Grand Rapids - "Jacob's Confrontation with God" - Genesis 32:24-32)

(8) Adapted from BELIEVER'S BIBLE COMMENTARY by William MacDonald - "Jesus: the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:1-14)" - Edited by Arthur Farstad - Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Copyright 1995)

(9) Adapted from BARCLAY'S DAILY BIBLE STUDY SERIES (NT) by William Barclay, Revised Edition - Copyright 1975 William Barclay - First published by the Saint Andrew Press, Edinburgh, Scotland - The Westminster Press, Philadelphia, PA - William Barclay - "The Tremendous Promises" - John 14:12-14

(10) Ron Dunn Testimonies

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