Does prayer have power?

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Dale-c, May 22, 2012.

  1. Dale-c

    Dale-c
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    It is common for people to say that prayer has power. I don't really think that is true. God has all power and we pray to Him.
    Prayer itself has no more power to bring about the desired result than my phone has to bake and deliver a pizza.

    I use my phone to call the one who can bake and then deliver a pizza and I pray to God who has the power to raise the spiritually dead to life etc.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. annsni

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    Prayer has power in that it brings me closer to the presence of God and brings my heart in closer alignment to His. :)
     
  3. freeatlast

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    Technically you are correct. Prayer is only an avenue to the One with the power.
     
  4. Dale-c

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    That is my point.

    There is a sense in which my cell phone is very powerful as well, but it really, in itself has no power.

    Annsi, of course when we do pray to a powerful God, powerful things happen :)
     
  5. Dale-c

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    I need to update my avatar. My second daughter is that old and that one can write her name :)
     
  6. agedman

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    The Scriptures state that God certainly is aware of the prayer of the believer:
    Psalms 102:17 He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer. ​

    Proverbs 15:8 The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD: but the prayer of the upright is his delight.​

    Proverbs 15:29 The LORD is far from the wicked: but he hears the prayer of the righteous. ​

    James uses the example of Elias to demonstrate the power of prayer in contrast to taking oaths. James uses the examples to show that in all conditions a believer is to "seek ye first the kingdom of God."

    James 5
    12 But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.
    13 Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.
    14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:
    15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.
    16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
    17 Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.
    18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.​

    One of the more important items the believer confuses is if power is in the prayer or in the power of God. If one were to rely upon James, the discussion would result in confusion and some being mislead.

    James says that the prayer "avails much" before giving the example. And in fact the word "avails" in the original has force, accomplishment, prevail.

    However, when taken in the balance of such Scriptures the strength is always found as God responding to the fervent believer's prayer. For example: Psalms 14:
    1 LORD, I cry unto thee: make haste unto me; give ear unto my voice, when I cry unto thee.
    2 Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.
    3 Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.
    4 Incline not my heart to any evil thing, to practice wicked works with men that work iniquity: and let me not eat of their dainties.
    5 Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head: for yet my prayer also shall be in their calamities.
    6 When their judges are overthrown in stony places, they shall hear my words; for they are sweet.
    7 Our bones are scattered at the grave's mouth, as when one cuts and cleaves wood upon the earth.
    8 But mine eyes are unto thee, O GOD the Lord: in thee is my trust; leave not my soul destitute.
    9 Keep me from the snares which they have laid for me, and the gins of the workers of iniquity.
    10 Let the wicked fall into their own nets, whilst that I withal escape. ​
     
    #6 agedman, May 22, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: May 22, 2012
  7. righteousdude2

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    I Believe Prayer is Powerful...

    ....of course, what I believe we are dealing with here is a matter of semantics.

    In a post I made on 5/8/12 I mentioned the following men and their views on prayer:

    “God does nothing but by prayer, and everything with it.” John Wesley

    “Every great movement of God can be traced to a kneeling figure.” D. L. Moody

    “Our praying, however, needs to be pressed and pursued with an energy that never tires, a persistency which will not be denied, and a courage which never fails.” E. M. Bounds

    “A day without prayer is a day without blessing, and a life without prayer is a life without power.” Edwin Harvey

    I differ from some of the others on this post, in that I believe prayer is where the power is rooted. Without our prayers [something we are entreated to do, just look at the teaching of the Lord's Prayer, and Paul's directive to pray without ceasing, for example], God will not act. He needs us to pray.

    He wants us to pray. He expects us to pray. And while I know [semantically speaking, or course] that there is no power in our prayer, per se, I firmly believe that without our intercession (prayers), there would be a complete [spiritual] power failure in our life and the life's of other.
     
  8. agedman

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    God responds to prayer - certainly. However, He has no hindrance as whether we pray or not.

    For instance: In the "Lord's Prayer" the plea is "Thy kingdom come." Why? So that the will of God is done on earth the same as in heaven - with no interference from Satanic influence. This request will be fulfilled in the reign of Christ called the millennial reign.

    Will such a reign not come whether the believer prays or not? Of course.

    That is absolutely for sure and for certain true! :thumbsup:
     
  9. Judith

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    Hello Dale. Great question. I guess I have gotten caught up in the saying that prayer has power or there is power in prayer, but now that you mention it and put it the way you did I guess I would say that the Lord is the One with the power that He releases at His will through our prayers.
     
  10. ktn4eg

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    I once heard of an illustration that may apply in this case.

    The preacher said that in some ways our prayers make be likened to a lamp. While it has the potential of being powerful enough to light up a room, it is powerless unless it's plugged into the real source of power.
     
  11. Jim1999

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    The Apostle Paul prayed three times for the LORD to heal him, and three times Paul was told that God's grace was sufficient. As far as we know, Paul suffered that infirmity all his life.

    Prayer is communion with God, and when we are in conformity with God's will, our prayers are answered.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  12. Tom Butler

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    Let's throw another question into the mix.

    We all agree that God answers prayer. As Jim just posted, sometimes the answer is no, but he answers.

    Here's the question: Does our prayer cause God to do something he did not originally intend to do? Does God change his mind as the result of prayer? Does a yes answer undermine God's immutability?

    Rats, that's two questions. Or maybe it's the same question asked two different ways.
     
  13. freeatlast

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    Yes Prayer can change the mind of God although God never changes. We see God change His mind throughout scripture.
     
  14. webdog

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    I think Jesus would disagree with you (Luke 18:1-8)

    Maybe you should start quoting "the prayer of the righteous availeth not mucheth"

    Also if prayer of the righteous has no power, are you implicitly denying Christ's prayers to the Father had no power?
     
  15. Jim1999

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    God's mind only changes in the minds of men. We think, therefore we are, not God.

    Remember, even scripture was written by men. It is telling their story. Sometimes in scripture there are misconceptions about who God is.

    When Jesus prayed He always conformed to the will of the Father. As he prayed,,,,NOT MY WILL, but Thine be done......So, the man, Jesus, ultimately conformed to the will of the Father...even though the MAN Jesus prayed that "the cup pass from him..."

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  16. webdog

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    You don't know this. In fact to presume this is to put one on par with God and His ways, which finite beings cannot begin to fathom.
    No, Scripture was written by the Holy Spirit. Men were the utensils He used to write It.
    I don't think anyone is arguing we conform to the will of the Father, but prayer is powerful nonetheless.
     
  17. agedman

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    The thinking that prayer has a certain power in itself might be answered in the following verse from Romans which is usually applied to hurting hearts, but can be considered applicable for this discussion, too.
    8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helps our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself makes intercession for us with groaning which cannot be uttered.
    27 And he that searches the hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because he makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
    28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.


    The underlining is a poor attempt to indicate that "our" prayer may not be our prayer at all, but the impulse of "one who searches the hearts" and also "knows the mind of the Spirit" is the very instigator and molder of prayer.

    Just as conviction, salvation, justification, preservation,... perhaps there is a "prayer - ation" in which in our humanity we offer what God had already searched out (Psalms 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts) in which the wicked unregenerate cannot even consider (Psalms 10:4 The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.).

    More over, because as the Psalmist said, "Unless the LORD had been my help, my soul had almost dwelt in silence. When I said, 'My foot slips;' thy mercy, O LORD, held me up. In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul." (Psalm 94:17-19) it is prudent to keep in mind that God is completely aware of His heirs "If we have forgotten the name of our God, or stretched out our hands to a strange god; Shall not God search this out? for he knows the secrets of the heart." (Psalms 44:20-21)

    Because of this intimate connection by the trinity in which we are heirs, our thoughts, our heart (secret desires), our intentions, our issues, ... all is known by God before we are aware.

    Yet, that does not diminish the importance nor essence of "our" prayer. God delights in our communication and acknowledgement.
     
  18. Tom Butler

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    Here's the problem: If God is immutable and doesn't change, how can he change his mind, because that would be a change in God?

    I don't think the answer is to separate God's will from his immutability.

    Let's walk through this:

    God's will is an expression of his unchanging nature. Whatever God wills today he has willed from eternity To say it another way, whatever God has willed from eternity, He must bring it to pass. There can be no possibility that his purpose and plan from eternity will change.

    If God can change his mind, the implication is that he was not perfect. It also suggests that God is not omniscient: that he did not know the end from the beginning.

    Okay, how do we resolve his immutability with those scriptures which seem to indicate that God has changed his mind or his will?

    Certainly, in Genesis 6, it does say that God repented that he'd ever made us.

    In Exodus 32:14 it says:
    I believe this is an anthropomorphism--that is, God speaking in our language. It also makes more sense to say that God willed a change, rather than changed his will.

    James P. Boyce commented on this:
    Boyce also makes this point:
    I'm certain this doesn't answer all our questions about this, but it's a good starting point for trying to figure things out.
     
  19. GodisGreat

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    The questions you asked have been asked for hundreds or thousands of years. I use to grapple with such things but found the time was better spent actually doing something for God. It became too easy for me to waste hours or even days on the search for an answer that cannot quite be known for sure. I find it better to share the Gospel with the lost or helpt train up a new beleiver and leave such questions for later when I meet Jesus.
     
  20. Tom Butler

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    It's not an either-or thing. This is a discussion forum. Asking my questions here doesn't mean I have chosen not to share the gospel.

    My questions are designed to provoke some thought. Actually, I think I know the answers. I want to hear what others think.

    Oh, by the way, welcome to the Baptist Board. We'd like to know more about you. How about going up to the top of the main menu (Welcome to the Baptist Board.com) and let's get acquainted.
     
    #20 Tom Butler, May 24, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: May 24, 2012

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