The Power And Practice Of Prayer


Sermon Text: John 14:1-14

Main Points:
I. The power of prayer
II. The practice of prayer

A day like today is the best day to begin with prayer, isn’t it? I believe that setting out our journey of faith in a new and fresh year is not only proper but also best for the Lord’s blessed like you and me. So, I’d like to talk about prayer, especially about its power and practice – I mean, why prayer is powerful and how we should pray.

Talking about prayer, we Christians pray all the time. We pray individually and in group. Sometimes with many words, but other times with just a few. We often speak out our prayers, but in some other times we pray in silence. In various ways and shapes, we pray and continue praying. Prayer is like breathing to us Christians.

But there’s a major problem with prayer. I don’t mean prayer itself is problematic; I mean, on the side of people who pray, a serious issue exists. This issue is related to people’s understanding of the power of prayer. Christians generally know that prayer is powerful as they apprehend the biblical truth of prayer that it reaches the ears of the Almighty God. But that’s how far some people’s apprehension of the power of prayer goes. About why anyone’s prayer reaches God’s ears and what happens when anyone’s prayer reaches God, not many Christians comprehend.

Some of you might disagree and would like to say the opposite. But consider how many Christians you know have prayed to God but still worry over their concerns. If anyone you know does this, he/she has not fully understood the power of prayer. Moreover, because such a person lacks in comprehension of its power, he is often inapt or clumsy in how to pray or what to pray. In a sense, this is our portrait, isn’t it? We pray and as soon as we end our prayer by saying ‘Amen,’ we fret and bite our nails.

I pray that this message may enlighten us with the truth of prayer and deepen our joy of living in and for the Lord Jesus.

So, let me begin with the power of prayer. Why is prayer powerful? What makes prayer powerful?

At least three significant reasons: firstly, because Christian’s prayer is made in Jesus’ name: secondly, because of Jesus’ promise with prayer: and thirdly, in our prayer, we – together with Jesus – glorifies God the Father.

Let us consider each of these reasons. First of all, why is praying in Jesus’ name powerful? Its straightforward answer is, because Jesus the Son deserves the Father’s full attention through what He has done on the cross of Calvary. There He accomplished the Father’s plan to redeem people from sin. Moreover, He is the only begotten Son of God in whom the Father is well pleased. So, based on these merits, Jesus has a full right to have the Father’s response and answer to any request made to Him. Praying in Jesus’ name is such a request to the Father. Praying in the name of the Son is to ask the Father to remember the sacrificial death of His Son on our behalf, invoking the Father’s favour on us who have become His children through Jesus. This is why a prayer made in Jesus’ name is powerful.

It is like you have a wealthy businessman who has told you to call at his office and use his name and ask anything you need. This is what Charles Spurgeon, a great preacher of the gospel in the 19th century, illustrated the power of prayer made in Jesus’ name. Then, you would go in and use the authority of the man’s name, and obtain your request as a matter of right and a matter of necessity.

Incomparably worthier than this is the merits of Jesus in appealing to the Father because Jesus, in addition to His Sonship, earned His merits by carrying out and fulfilling the Father’s plan, thus, reconciling people to the Father. When you pray in Jesus’ name, this name of Jesus is the clearance for you to advance directly to the heavenly chamber where God sits on His throne. And the Father will hear your petitions with full interest and pleasure. This is why prayer made in Jesus’ name is powerful.

This means that nothing of you contributes to the power of prayer. No matter how sincerely you say your prayer, no matter how many times you say it, no matter how beautifully with many words you make your petitions, you simply cannot make your prayer any more powerful than what Jesus’ name does to it. This also means that unless you pray in Jesus’ name alone, unless you depend on Jesus’ merit alone, nothing you say will reach the Father’s ears but all will disappear without a trace.

Secondly, prayer is powerful because of Jesus’ promise. He promised to us that whatever we ask in His name, He would surely do it. This promise He made not once but several times while He was with His disciples. In addition to v. 13 of today’s text passage from Jn. 14, we read the same promise of the Lord Jesus from Jn. 15:16 and 16:23-24.

Moreover, Jesus promises that not only He but also His Father and the Holy Spirit will do and give to us whatever we ask in the Son’s name. Do you see the significance and weight of this promise with prayer? It’s like a ‘blank check’ on your palm, signed by Jesus.

This is virtually what Jesus means when he begins His promise as read in v. 12 of today’s passage. He says, “Truly, truly, I say to you.” In other words, he’s saying, ‘I really mean it and you can be sure of what I say here.’ Then, He continues, “Whatever you ask in My name, this I will do.” Hear His voice again from Jn. 16:23, “whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He will give it to you.” That is to say, ‘If you need anything of the Father, all that the Father has is Mine; so, go and use My name, My merits, and He’ll do what you ask and give you what you look for.’ You and I have this powerful assurance with prayer!

The third and last reason for the power of prayer made in Jesus’ name is that such a prayer glorifies the Father through the Son. Listen to the Lord telling us this truth in v. 13: “Whatever you ask in My name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

When you pray in Jesus’ name, the Father hears you and will do what you ask. Once the Father answers to your prayer and grants your request, then, it’ll be done not only to you but also through you. And what is carried out through you is the work carried out in Jesus’ name. And that is what Jesus means by saying in v. 12 that ‘whoever believes in Jesus will also do the works Jesus did, and greater works than His will you who believe do.’

Can you believe that your ears have just heard these words? Jesus means that any and every Christian will do greater works than the works Jesus did! Of course, it’s impossible for any of us – or all in humanity collectively – to do greater works than that of Jesus, let alone equal to His.

What Jesus means is that when God’s answers to our prayers are done in our lives, Jesus’ work which began 2,000 years ago continues through us to reveal its full content in this world, as planned and desired by the Father. In this way, the Son glorifies the Father together with praying Christians! Do you grasp the full picture of the power of prayer? I truly hope you do.

Your prayer is powerful when you pray in Jesus’ name. When you pray and depend on His merits alone, you are led to the Father who pays full attention to your petitions, being ready and eager to answer to them. Who in the world other than Christians are blessed with such a blessing like this? God is gracious to all who seek the Father’s favour in the name of Jesus our Saviour!

Once you grasp this, you would have no problem with how or what to pray and ask. Considering how to pray, the first and foremost truth that must always be emphasised is, ‘you ought to be joyful.’ Before praying, every believer must remember his/her joy in Jesus that never dries up but overflows. This joy is like a switch that you turn something on to begin working. For example, you press the switch to light your house; you turn your car key to start the engine, and so on.

This joy comes from your understanding of the power of prayer. As you pray, you are about to draw the attention of the most powerful God; as you begin your prayer, you are about to have the incomprehensibly gracious Father’s love and care. Wouldn’t it make you rejoice? Wouldn’t this fact lift your heart and soul up to heaven? Of course, it will! This truth will surely make you dance – I mean, in your spirit (though for some people, literally!). So, rejoicing is the very first thing you do when you pray.

This means that you do not and cannot make any of the words you say in prayer more effective. No craft or technique or any invention will draw better attention of the Father; nothing of such kind will assure a firm or robust result.

In fact, such things will make your prayer POWERLESS because, if you apply any such thing, you’re not praying in Jesus’ name, nor depending on His merits, but appealing by your own merit for your own name. That is, actually, an attempt to manipulate God or twist God’s arm – if you like – to get what you want. That’s not what prayer is.

Instead, you depend on Christ’s merits when you pray; you seek His name be honoured and His will be fulfilled, thus, the Father be glorified in Christ. In fact, this is what Jesus taught us to pray, and we say, ‘Father’s will be done ON EARTH as it is in heaven.’

In a word, it is to seek the Holy Spirit’s help when you and I pray. This is a so important part of prayer. You rejoice before you begin praying, remembering that not you but the name of Jesus and His merits make prayer powerful and effective. Then, you depend on the Holy Spirit who is always with you and in you, seeking Him to guide you with what to say and empower you with what to envisage in your heart and soul.

So, now, let us joyfully and boldly come to the Father in prayer through Jesus who is the Guarantor of our heavenly blessings. Let us enjoy greater blessings of prayer as the Lord Jesus has firmly promised.

Today, we begin a new year in the Lord and let the first step we take in this year of 2023 be our prayer through which we glorify the Father in the Son! ***

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