At its most basic level, prayer is communicating—talking—with God.
Prayer is a gift God has given to man that bring success in our conflicts with the devil and in the development of our characters. The blessings that come in answer to prayer will bring a solution to all of our problems. Whether we are asking for strength, wisdom, a sweet temper or some other specific blessing, God's response is: "Ask and you WILL receive!
If we look at the great men and women of the Bible, and for that matter our Saviour Himself, we find that frequent resort to prayer has ever been a significant factor in their success. It was while Abraham was praying that God responded and told him that he would be the father of a great nation. It was when Daniel was praying that information came regarding the visions that he had not understood. It was when Jesus was praying that His Father opened to Him the knowledge of His will.
Prayer has also been described as the opening of one's heart to a friend. Sometimes we are intimidated at the thought of praying to the unseen creator of the universe. Therefore, realizing that we can open our hearts to him as we would to a human friend, makes it much easier.
Prayer is a part of religious inclination. It grows out of mankind’s feeling of dependence upon a higher power or personality. “The heathen, in his blindness, bows down to wood and stone” for this very reason. He petitions and propitiates his numerous gods because of the feeling that, in some way, he may be able to gain the attention and favor of that over-ruling being or power which he is conscious of, in a vague, indeﬁnable way, as being dependent upon for existence. His approach to this suprapersonality is by prayer. But he prays to a god of iron, wood or stone, and not to the true and living, the one only, God.
Wherein does the Christian view or thought of prayer differ from that of the heathen? The heathen prays without knowledge, and therefore in blindness. The Christian prays, as we believe, to a living, knowable, answering God, and therefore the Christian prays with faith and assurance. With this understanding of prayer,
1. Prayer opens the soul to God; lifts the soul up to God. God ﬂoods with light the soul of those who open their hearts to him in earnest, pleading prayer. His blessing is never withheld from the soul that seeks it with the whole heart.
2. Prayer increases faith and brings spiritual blessing. It is through prayer that we become acquainted with God, and a more intimate knowledge of God must of necessity increase our faith, and increased faith means an increasingly satisfying religious experience.
3. Prayer enlists us for God’s will. It puts us in an attitude of receptivity where we become more willing to do God’s bidding. It increases our desire to know and to do his will, and thus enlists us in his service.
4. Prayer gives us fortitude and patience. It gives us the courage and patience to face and conquer the problems, and difﬁculties of life with fortitude. It not only gives us the spiritual strength to do so, but often the necessary physical strength is bestowed. We are comforted and sustained by the assurance that “underneath are the everlasting arms.”
5. Prayer enables us to help others. Through prayer it is possible to inﬂuence and help others as we might not in any other way. It is the high power wireless by which our longing to do them good is conveyed to them through God.
“She had been known as a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ and believed herself to be such. Throughout the years of her prosperity she had served him. But pain and loss visited her. Then came to stay. Like Job, she at last stood amid the wreck of what she had loved best, and life looked barren and desolate. In the time of her afﬂiction hope and faith moved afar off-she could see neither comfort nor the Comforter; her soul had lost its wings, she could not ﬂy either from her sorrow or to her Lord. Her Bible was a blank -only one text remained of all it once had held: ‘Be still, and know that I am God.’
“She shuddered at the Word, but it could not be changed. There was nothing for her to do but to submit, to endure. It was useless to rebel, to cry, to moan. That one scripture dwelt with her and closed her lips to any outward demonstration of pain. The lines of her mouth and heart grew hard: ‘Be still, and know that I am God.’
“Two friends in another city met to pray for this woman one day, and one of them-the one who knew her best-used these words in her petition: ‘Help her to see thee, Lord, and when that text that so constantly recurs to her memory comes to her mind again-”Be still and know that I am God”-with it help her to remember also that “God is love.”’ And straightway, as the words were uttered, the other who knelt in prayer, caught a new vision of the Word of God and wrote into that Old Testament exhortation the New Testament fact, ‘Be still, and know that I am Love.’”
“From the day of Pentecost, there has been not one great spiritual awakening in any land which has not begun in a union of prayer, though only among two or three; no such outward, upward movement has continued after such prayer meetings have declined; and it is in exact proportion to the maintenance of such joint and believing supplication and intercession that the Word of the Lord in any land or locality has had free course and been gloriﬁed.”
Why the “Week of Prayer” which is generally observed by all Protestant churches each year in January? Because in November, 1858, many years ago, a call to united prayer in behalf of the world, issued by the Lodiana Mission, in India, made such an impression on the church at large that the setting apart of our annual “Week of Prayer” was the direct outcome.
It is declared that all of that “marvelous spiritual awakening which marked the whole latter half of the eighteenth century, and gave rise to the modern missionary revival, can be traced to Jonathan Edwards’ famous “Call to Prayer,” which he sent out in 1747.
Why is prayer the most direct of all the helps to the Christian life?
Does God always answer prayer? Does he always answer our prayers in the way and at the time we would have him?
What must be the condition of our hearts and lives for our petitions to avail with God?
There have been remarkable instances of answer to prayer. Let others mention such instances.
Have there been times in your life when you have felt that God has deﬁnitely answered your prayer?
Author Unknown, The Sabbath Recorder, Volume 88, American Sabbath Tract Society
Ever since Jacob struggled and overcame the power of the enemy through prevailing prayer, God's children have been earnestly seeking His help; through their insistent prayers! By way of introduction, here are some quotations on prevailing prayer.
“Jacob is an illustration for all time of the commanding and conquering forces of prayer. God came to him as an antagonist. He grappled Jacob, and shook him as if he were in the embrace of a deadly foe. Jacob, the deceitful supplanter, the wily, unscrupulous trader, had no eyes to see God. His perverted principles, and his deliberate overreaching and wrong-doing had blinded his vision. To reach God, to know God, and to conquer God, that was the demand of this critical hour. Jacob was alone, and all night witnessed to the intensity of the struggle, its changing issues, and its veering fortunes, as well as the receding and advancing lines in the conflict. Here was the strength of weakness, the power of self-despair, the energy of perseverance, the elevation of humility, and the victory of surrender. Jacob's salvation issued from the forces which he massed in that all-night conflict. He prayed and wept and importuned until the fiery hate of Esau's heart died and it was softened into love. A greater miracle was wrought on Jacob than on Esau. His name, his character and his destiny were all changed by that all-night praying. Here is the record of the results of that night's praying struggle: "As a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed." "By his strength he had power with God, yea, he had power over the angel and prevailed."
“Prayer is a command of God, and is to be practiced both in public and in private; yes, such a command brings those that have the spirit of prayer, into great intimacy with God; and the prevailing prayer, will receive great things from God, both for the person that prayed, and for those that are prayed for. Prayer opens the heart of God, and is a means by which the empty soul is filled. By prayer the Christian can open his heart to God, as to a friend, and obtain fresh testimony of God's friendship to him. My purpose today will be to show you the very heart of prayer, without which, all your lifting up, of hands, eyes, and voices, will be to no avail.”
“Benevolent desires are doubtless pleasing to God. Such desires pervade heaven and are found in all holy beings. But they are not prayer. Men may have these desires as the angels and glorified spirits have them. But this is not the effectual, prevailing prayer spoken of in the text. Prevailing prayer is something more than this. Prevailing, or effectual prayer, is that prayer which attains the blessing that it seeks. It is that prayer which effectually moves God. The very idea of effectual prayer is that it effects its object.... When the fallow ground is thoroughly broken up in the hearts of Christians, when they have confessed and made restitution—if the work be thorough and honest—they will naturally and inevitably fulfill the conditions, and will prevail in prayer. But it cannot be too distinctly understood that none others will. What we commonly hear in prayer and conference meetings is not prevailing prayer. It is often astonishing and lamentable to witness the delusions that prevail upon the subject. Who that has witnessed real revivals of religion has not been struck with the change that comes over the whole spirit and manner of the prayers of really revived Christians? I do not think I ever could have been converted if I had not discovered the solution of the question: “Why is it that so much that is called prayer is not answered?”
“If there be any regrets in heaven — heaven is not supposed to have any regrets, we think of heaven as having all the regrets turned out and kept out, — and yet, if there could creep in regrets, I think there would be at least two, as we look back to the earth-life from the hills of God. One regret would be this: that we did not do more quiet praying, more claiming. I do not mean more simple repetition of religious language on our knees, but more insistent claiming, that the power of the Lord Jesus Christ shall apply here, and there, over the earth. That will be one regret, if there be regrets: that we did not ask enough, and did not ask big enough. We will say to ourselves, "What beggarly askers we were down on the earth!" The second regret, I think, if there be regrets, will be this: that we did not trust enough, that we did not trust God enough. We did not step out, when we could not see where to put the foot down, when He said, "Step out." And if we might rule our lives here by what we shall think of them when we get yonder, then, I believe, we shall surely wear down the doorsills into our prayer-rooms.”
"We must believe that God is, and that He is the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. The Father is the object of our prayer, through the mediation of our Lord Jesus and by the aid of the Holy Spirit; but however we conceive of it-whether the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit is the prominent object before our thought-we must believe that there is an eye that witnesses our poor endeavors, an ear that listens, a mind that can be impressed and affected by our requests. But further, we need a living faith which reckons on the faithfulness of God and believes that it has already received its petitions, when they are founded on speciï¬ï¿?c promises and evidently prompted by the Holy Spirit. When we pray, it is not enough merely to speak a long list of requests into the ear of God; it becomes us to wait after each one and to receive by an appropriating act of the soul. It is as though we saw God take from the shelves of His storehouse the boon on which we had set our heart, label it with our name, and put it aside until the precise moment arrived in which He could bestow it on us without hurt."
“There is not a more blessed and powerful weapon for the children of God, than that they should give themselves to prayer. For thus they can have the power of God on their side—the almighty power of God. And by making use of this power, through the instruments of prayer in all things we need, we can have the infinite wisdom of God brought to work for us, and have God Himself at our side, as children of God. Therefore we should seek to make a far better use than ever we have clone of prayer. And you, my beloved Christian friends, who are in the habit of meeting often at the noonday prayer meeting, expect great things at the hands of God; look out for wondrous blessings, and you will find how ready He is to give those things which we ask for.” George Müller, Counsels to Christians
“We wanted to have the comfort and the joy and the strength first, that we might do the work easily and without any feeling of difficulty or self-sacrifice. And He wanted us in faith, without asking whether we felt weak or strong, whether the work was hard or easy, in the obedience of faith to do what He said: the path of fruit-bearing would have led us to the place and the power of prevailing prayer. Obedience is the only path that leads to the glory of God. Not obedience instead of faith, nor obedience to supply the shortcomings of faith; no, but faith’s obedience gives access to all the blessings our God has for us. The baptism of the Spirit (xiv. 16), the manifestation of the Son (xiv. 21), the indwelling of the Father (xiv. 23), the abiding in Christ’s love (xv. 10), the privilege of His holy friendship (xv. 14), and the power of all-prevailing prayer (xv. 16),--all wait for the obedient. Let us take home the lessons. Now we know the great reason why we have not had power in faith to pray prevailingly. Our life was not as it should have been: simple downright obedience, abiding fruitfulness, was not its chief mark. And with our whole heart we approve of the Divine appointment: men to whom God is to give such influence in the rule of the world, as at their request to do what otherwise would not have taken place, men whose will is to guide the path in which God’s will is to work, must be men who have themselves learned obedience, whose loyalty and submission to authority must be above all suspicion. Our whole soul approves the law: obedience and fruit-bearing, the path to prevailing prayer. And with shame we acknowledge how little our lives have yet borne this stamp.”
“NEARLY the whole of Church history furnishes us with some remarkable examples of the power of prevailing prayer - examples which should encourage us to lay hold of God's strength in the exercise of this important duty. Moreover, the Bible teems with promises which are backed up with testimonies of God's faithfulness in answer to the earnest pleadings of His people. Therefore it is possible, by these, and by the help we may derive from the following examples, to prove the omnipotence of prayer in a manner we have never yet dreamed, and should cause us thereby to let go all our doubts with regard to its reality and power. “
“I had never more cause to fear than I have now, when my Lord has restored me to my second created heaven on earth, and has turned my apprehended fears into joys, and great deliverance to His church, whereof I have my share and part. Alas! that weeping prayers, answered and sent back from heaven with joy, should not have laughing praises! Oh that this land would repent, and lay burdens of praises upon the top of the fair Mount Zion! Madam, except this land be humbled, a Reformation is rather my wonder than belief, at this time. But surely it must be a wonder, and what is done already is a wonder.”
“But this I do say, that not praying is a clear proof that a man is not yet a true Christian. He cannot really feel his sins. He cannot love God. He cannot feel himself a debtor to Christ. He cannot long after holiness. He cannot desire heaven. He has yet to be born again. He has yet to be made a new creature. He may boast confidently of election, grace, faith, hope, and knowledge, and deceive ignorant people. But you may rest assured it is all vain talk if he does not pray…. And I say, furthermore, that of all the evidences of the real work of the Spirit, a habit of hearty private prayer is one of the most satisfactory that can be named. A man may preach from false motives. A man may write books and make fine speeches and seem diligent in good works, and yet be a Judas Iscariot. But a man seldom goes into his closet, and pours out his soul before God in secret, unless he is in earnest. The Lord himself has set his stamp on prayer as the best proof of a true conversion. When he sent Ananias to Saul in Damascus, he gave him no other evidence of his change of heart than this, "Behold, he prayeth" (Acts 9: 11).”
“There is a knocking prayer, to which the promise is given, "Knock, and it shall be opened unto you." This is more than seeking. This is the prayer that surmounts the great obstacles of life, the closed doors of circumstances, the brazen gates and adamantine mountains of hindrance and opposition, and which, in the name of our ascended Lord and in the fellowship of His mediatorial rights and powers, presses through every obstacle and treads down every adversary. It is not so much the prayer that knocks at the gates of heaven and extorts an answer from an unwilling God, as the prayer which, having received the answer and promise, carries it forth against the gates of the enemy and beats them down, as the walls of Jericho fell before the tramp and shout of Israel's believing hosts. It is the prayer which takes its place at the side of our ascended Lord and claims what He has promised to give, and even commands, in His mighty name, that which He has already commanded through His royal Priesthood and all-prevailing intercession. It is faith putting its hand on the omnipotence of God and using it in fellowship with our Omnipotent Head until it sees His name prevail against all that opposes His will, the crooked thing s made straight, the gates of brass opened, and the fetters of iron broken asunder.”
“Oh! that you studied your Bibles more! Oh! that we all did! How we could plead the promises! How we could plead the promises! How often we should prevail with God when we could hold him to his word, and say, “Fulfill this word unto thy servant, whereon thou hast caused me to hope.” Oh! it is grand praying when our mouth is full of God’s word, for there is no word that can prevail with him like his own. You tell a man, when you ask him for such and such a thing, “You yourself said you would do so and so.” You have him then. And so when you can lay hold on the covenant angel with this consecrated grip, “Thou hast said! thou hast said!” then have you every opportunity of prevailing with him.”
“Should we not do well to suspend our present operations and give ourselves to humiliation and prayer for nothing less than to be filled with the Spirit, and made channels through which He shall work with resistless power? Souls are perishing now for lack of this power. . . . God is blessing now some who are seeking this blessing from Him in faith. All things are ready if we are ready."
“We may smile at this peculiar way of testing the acceptability of a prayer. But is it not a fact that the majority of Christian men and women who pray to a Living God know very little about real prevailing prayer? Yet prayer is the key which unlocks the door of God’s treasure-house. It is not too much to say that all real growth in the spiritual life-all victory over temptation, all confidence and peace in the presence of difficulties and dangers, all repose of spirit in times of great disappointment or loss, all habitual communion with God-depend upon the practice of secret prayer…. Oh, how great must be God’s wonder today! For how few there are among us who know what prevailing prayer really is! Every one of us would confess that we believe in prayer, yet how many of us truly believe in the power of, prayer? Now, before we go a step farther, may the writer most earnestly implore you not to read hurriedly what is contained in these chapters. Much — very much — depends upon the way in which every reader receives what is here recorded. For everything depends upon prayer…. Men of power are without exception men of prayer. God bestows His Holy Spirit in His fullness only on men of prayer. And it is through the operation of the Spirit that answers to prayer come. Every believer has the Spirit of Christ dwelling in him. For “if any have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” But a man of prevailing prayer must be filled with the Spirit of God.”
“There is necessity of diligence in prayer; let nothing hinder you. You will obtain the blessing you desire if you faint not. Keep your wants, your joys, your sorrows, your cares, and your fears before God. You cannot burden him; you cannot weary him. He who numbers the hairs of your head, who notices the fall of a sparrow, is not indifferent to the wants of his people. "The Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy." He is affected by our sorrows, and even by our utterance of them. Take everything to him that perplexes the mind. Nothing is too great for him to bear; for he holds up worlds; he rules over all the affairs of the universe. Nothing is too small for him to notice that in any way disturbs our peace. There is no chapter in our experience too dark for him to read; there is no perplexity too sore for him to unravel. No calamity can befall the least of his people, no anxiety harass the soul, no joy cheer, no sincere, contrite prayer escape the lips, of which our heavenly Father is unobservant, or in which he takes no immediate interest. "He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds."
Prayer Subjects Directory
Charles Finney once attended a prayer meeting where the members asked if they couldn’t offer intercessory prayers on his behalf. Finney knew that he needed prayer, but he needed prayer that would be answered—prevailing prayer! He answered, “No!” This was a crisis moment for Finney, because he knew the Bible encouraged the followers of Christ to believe in the power of prevailing intercessory prayer, but from what he could tell, the intercessory prayers of these members were not prevailing. For a time Finney questioned whether the Bible was true. But he continued to ponder their offer to intercede in spite of a seeming lack of answers, his refusal, and came to realize they lack of prevailing came from neither praying according to what the Bible taught on the subject, nor sending up intercessory prayers with the expectation that they were going to be answered.
Read more of Finney's story...
Read Finney's Prevailing Prayer
This web page and the related sub-pages are dedicated to sharing what the Bible teaches on the subject of prevailing intercessory prayer. Subjects include what is possible through prayer, the certainty of answers, what the Bible teaches on how to pray in a prevailing way, what hinders prevailing prayer and causes unanswered prayers, some thoughts on prevailing in intercessory prayer, healing prayer, prayer for revival, and the need to persist and praise God while waiting for the answer. Both Bible and quotations from many sources are used to establish each point.
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What Have Great Christians Said About Prayer?
Online Sermons On Prayer
“From the day of Pentecost, there has been not one great spiritual awakening in any land which has not begun in a union of prayer, though only among two or three; no such outward, upward movement has continued after such prayer meetings have declined; and it is in exact proportion to the maintenance of such joint and believing supplication and intercession that the Word of the Lord in any land or locality has had free course and been glorified.”
Charles Finney said, "Prevailing, or effectual prayer, is that prayer which attains the blessing that it seeks. It is that prayer which effectually moves God." On this page you can read what other great Christians said on the subject.
Charles Finney was not a Christian in his early years. Later, after he had already become a lawyer, as a result of conversations with a local pastor and growing convictions on the Bible, he became a Christian. It was in this early time as a Christian that a church offered to pray for him. Not having seen any answers come as a result of the church's prayers, he refused their success. However their request got him to thinking about why God answers prayer. His telling of the experience is very instructive. (Read the rest of the story at this link.)
Finney, one of the most successful revivalists in history, only became a Christian after he was an adult and practicing law. Kind-hearted townspeople offered to pray for him, but he deferred because they didn't seem to be getting their prayers answered. As he put it, "I suppose I need to be prayed for, for I am conscious that I am a sinner; but I do not see that it will do any good for you to pray for me; for you are continually asking, but you do not receive. You have been praying for a revival of religion ever since I have been in Adams, and yet you have it not. You have been praying for the Holy Spirit to descend upon yourselves, and yet complaining of your leanness." He eventually came to understand why the prayers were not being answered and wrote about his experience. Read about that experience by clicking on this link.