9. Marks Of A Powerful Prayer Life (1 Kings 18:41-46)Related Media
Then Elijah told Ahab, “Go on up and eat and drink, for the sound of a heavy rainstorm can be heard.”So Ahab went on up to eat and drink, while Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel. He bent down toward the ground and put his face between his knees. He told his servant, “Go on up and look in the direction of the sea.” So he went on up, looked, and reported, “There is nothing.” Seven times Elijah sent him to look. The seventh time the servant said, “Look, a small cloud, the size of the palm of a man’s hand, is rising up from the sea.” Elijah then said, “Go and tell Ahab, ‘Hitch up the chariots and go down, so that the rain won’t overtake you.’” Meanwhile the sky was covered with dark clouds, the wind blew, and there was a heavy rainstorm. Ahab rode toward Jezreel. Now the Lord energized Elijah with power; he tucked his robe into his belt and ran ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel.
1 Kings 18:41-46 (NET)
What are marks of a powerful prayer life? If we were honest, many of us struggle with prayer and desire to be more effective at it. In Scripture, Elijah is described as a powerful intercessor. In James 5, we are encouraged to receive prayer from our elders and others to receive healing based on the power of Elijah’s prayers. James 5:16b-18 says,
…The prayer of a righteous person has great effectiveness. Elijah was a human being like us, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain and there was no rain on the land for three years and six months! Then he prayed again, and the sky gave rain and the land sprouted with a harvest.
Elijah’s ministry was marked by powerful prayer. As James mentioned, in 1 Kings 17:1, Elijah declared it wouldn’t rain except at his command, and it didn’t rain for three and a half years. In the same chapter, he prayed for a widow’s dead son to be resurrected—leading to the first resurrection in Scripture. Then in Chapter 18, in a confrontation with the false prophets of Baal, he prayed for God to send fire from heaven to consume the sacrifice on the altar, and God did so. Then, here at the end of Chapter 18, Elijah prayed for it to rain after three and a half years of drought, and it did. Elijah’s intercession is a model of a powerful prayer life.
Similar to Elijah, when the narrators share Christ’s story, they want us to know that prayer was the secret to his powerful ministry. In Luke 4, Christ fasts and prays for forty days while being tempted by the devil. After completing that season of prayer and fasting, he left the wilderness “in the power of the Spirit” (Lk 4:14) and began his three-year ministry. He preached with wisdom and boldness, cast out demons, and healed people. Even throughout this ministry, the narrators continually show Christ sneaking away from his disciples to deserted places to pray (Mk 1:35). In fact, before selecting his twelve apostles, he spent the night in prayer (Lk 6:12-13). Before he went to the cross, he spent three hours in prayer with his disciples (Matt 26:36-46). His life was marked by prayer. Likewise, Christ continually taught his disciples how to pray, modeled prayer for them, and took them to deserted places to pray (Matt 6, Lk 11). He did this because God has chosen to complete his will on the earth through humanity, and it won’t be completed apart from prayer.
Therefore, as those called to serve God as parents, educators, students, businessmen, government employees, missionaries, and members of God’s church, we must continually remind ourselves of our need to pray and seek to pray more effectively.
In 1 Kings 18:41-46, Elijah prays for it to rain after there had been a drought for three and a half years, and it rains. And this story, as mentioned, is just part of the larger narrative that details Elijah’s powerful prayer life. Consequently, as we consider this narrative, we can discern marks of a powerful prayer life.
Big Question: What marks or characteristics of a powerful prayer life can we discern from Elijah’s example in 1 Kings 18:41-46?
A Powerful Prayer Life Is Rooted in Faith—Believing God’s Promises and Trusting His Character
Then Elijah told Ahab, “Go on up and eat and drink, for the sound of a heavy rainstorm can be heard.” So Ahab went on up to eat and drink, while Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel. He bent down toward the ground and put his face between his knees.
1 Kings 18:41-42
It is very clear in this narrative that Elijah had faith God would answer his prayer for rain. In verse 41, he tells Ahab, “Go on up and eat and drink, for the sound of a heavy rainstorm can be heard.” However, as we see shortly after, there was no rain or signs of rain. He tells his servant to go and look for a cloud, but it’s clear skies. Clearly, Elijah told Ahab to celebrate the rain showers in faith, though there was no visible evidence of it.
Likewise, if we are going to have a powerful prayer life, we must have faith as well, which includes trust in God’s goodness and sovereignty over all things, his desire to answer our prayers, and that he will always do what is best. James 1:5-8 says that faith is a prerequisite to having our prayers answered and that without it, God will not answer them. He says:
But if anyone is deficient in wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without reprimand, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed around by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord, since he is a double-minded individual, unstable in all his ways.
Also, Christ said in Matthew 17:20 if we have faith the size of a mustard seed that we could move mountains, which was probably a colloquial saying referring to trials in general.
Application Question: If faith is needed to have a powerful prayer life, we must ask, “How can we develop our faith?”
1. Faith is developed through studying and knowing God’s Word.
Elijah knew it was going to rain because God had previously told him that it would. In 1 Kings 18:1, God said, “Go, make an appearance before Ahab, so I may send rain on the surface of the ground.” Because Elijah was living in an intimate relationship with God, he knew God’s will for this situation. In addition, since the drought was a consequence of idolatry that God had promised in the Mosaic law (Dt 11:16-17), it was clear that when there was true repentance, God would remove the consequences—it would begin to rain again. Elijah knew God’s Word and therefore approached God in faith.
Likewise, if we do not know God’s Word and continually study it, we will have little faith and therefore not see God move in special ways. In Romans 10:17 (ESV), Paul says, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” If we are continually in God’s Word, we will know his will and his character and therefore have greater faith in God. In John 15:7, Christ said it this way, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want, and it will be done for you.” Apart from abiding in God’s Word, we will have little faith in God and experience few answered prayers.
Now certainly, God’s Word does not tell us whether God will open the door to a certain job we are praying for, heal a specific sickness, or even save a specific person, but for those situations, it does tell us about God’s character. And the more we know God’s character, the more we will trust God to do what is best, whether that means healing or not healing, closing or opening a door. God honors that type of faith (cf. Lk 22:42). If we neglect God’s Word, we will have little faith and therefore have an anemic prayer life. Faith comes from knowing God’s Word.
2. Faith is received as a grace from God, often in response to prayer.
Often, God gives faith as a supernatural gift to those who don’t have it. In Ephesians 2:8, it is clear that even our ability to believe the gospel is a gift of God’s grace. It says, “For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” In addition, in 1 Corinthians 12:9, Paul teaches that God gives some people the spiritual gift of “faith.” These people have a tremendous ability to believe God’s promises in Scripture and the promises God sows in their hearts. They are often the founders of churches, Christian universities, and ministries. Most who have this gift receive it at salvation, along with their other gifts, but God may supernaturally give this gift later in life, which is why Paul encourages Christians to “be eager for the greater gifts” (1 Cor 12:31).
Likewise, God often gives faith as a gift to those who pray for it (whether it be a spiritual gift or simply a temporary spiritual endowment). In Mark 9:23, Christ told a man who had a son who was afflicted by a demon that all things were possible if he believed, including the healing of his son. In response, the man cried, “I believe; help my unbelief!” Because he struggled with believing that Jesus could or would heal his son, he spoke both a declaration and a petition, “I believe; help my unbelief!” Similarly, when the disciples struggled with the concept of continually forgiving people that hurt them, they cried out in Luke 17:5, “Increase our faith!”
Therefore, we will also at times need to pray for increased faith to forgive someone who hurt us, to persevere through a difficult season in life, and/or to have power to serve in a situation that is out of our comfort zone or gifting. We all struggle with unbelief, and therefore, it is appropriate to cry out for faith, “Lord, increase our faith! Lord, help our unbelief!” Christ healed the son of the man who prayed this, and no doubt, God also empowered the disciples to forgive. Our faith is often increased as a grace from God in response to our requests for it.
3. Faith is increased through experiences of God’s faithfulness.
No doubt, Elijah had faith that God would make it rain, in part, because he had experienced God stopping the rain for three and a half years in response to his prayer. He also had just experienced God bringing fire from heaven and turning Israel back to himself. No doubt, his experiences helped him to trust God more. Likewise, our faith is fueled by our experiences of God’s faithfulness. As we see God multiply our jars of oil to feed us, provide food from ravens in a famine, conquer our enemies who outnumber us, move mountains, and open and close doors, those experiences will commonly increase our faith. This is why seasoned saints are often less anxious in trials than young believers. They simply have more history with God. (1) This is part of the reason we need to share our testimonies with others. It will often help increase our faith, as we remember God’s faithfulness, and also help the faith of others. Psalm 107:2 (NIV) says, “Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—those he redeemed from the hand of the foe.” (2) Also, since remembering our past victories often fuels our faith, it is important to document our prayer requests and God’s answers to them and possibly establish ways to continually celebrate them. It is very easy to forget God’s grace. When God parted the Jordan River so Israel could pass over to Canaan on dry land, he had them take twelve stones out of the river so they would remember (Josh 4). Also, when God did something special, the patriarchs would often build an altar in remembrance and name it. This helped them remember God’s past graces and have faith for future graces. Likewise, we should do things to remember God’s grace as well, including journaling our prayer requests and answers, taking pictures, making videos, or even establishing anniversary days to remember and celebrate. These can be very helpful in renewing and strengthening our faith in God.
Application Question: What are some significant events or experiences where you saw God move in your life in a special way which helped strengthen your faith? What are some seasons in which you struggled with doubting God’s love and grace? Why is it important to remember the victories God has given us? How should we practice remembering these victories, and have you ever implemented acts of remembrance to celebrate, honor God, and increase your faith?
A Powerful Prayer Life Springs from Humility—Recognizing Our Weakness and Need for God
So Ahab went on up to eat and drink, while Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel. He bent down toward the ground and put his face between his knees.
1 Kings 18:42
The next thing we can discern from this narrative is Elijah’s humility. It says after he went up to the top of Carmel, he bent down to the ground with his face between his knees as he prayed to God. This act symbolized Elijah’s humility before God and his dependence on God. Humility is very important for having an effective prayer life. James 4:6 says, “God opposes the proud, but he gives grace to the humble.” God gives grace to the humble in part by answering their prayers (cf. Jam 4:2-3).
A great example of the need for humility in prayer is seen in the Parable of the Tax Collector and Pharisee. Luke 18:9-14 says:
Jesus also told this parable to some who were confident that they were righteous and looked down on everyone else. “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed about himself like this: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: extortionists, unrighteous people, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of everything I get.’ The tax collector, however, stood far off and would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, be merciful to me, sinner that I am!’ I tell you that this man went down to his home justified rather than the Pharisee. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
In the Pharisee’s prayer, he stood and boasted about his righteousness while mocking sinners. But the tax collector prayed in a humble way before God, recognizing that he was a sinner who didn’t deserve anything from God, and God blessed him. Christ said the tax collector went home justified rather than the Pharisee. God will humble the one who exalts himself and exalt the one who humbles himself.
Therefore, humility, not just in prayer but as a lifestyle, is important for prayer. With Moses, Scripture says he was the humblest man on the earth (Num 12) and therefore God spoke to him face to face like a friend, not in dreams as with others. Like Elijah, God also did many mighty miracles through Moses’ life. With Paul, God allowed him to have a demon in the flesh, probably some type of disease, to keep him humble, so God’s power would be made perfect in his weakness (1 Cor 12:7-9). Often, God will allow trials in our lives to humble us, so God can bless us and use our prayers more mightily.
Application Question: Since pride so commonly infects the religious (including those who serve in ministry) and renders their prayer lives ineffective, we must ask ourselves, “How can we know whether we are prideful instead of humble?”
1. We can tell whether we are prideful by how we view and talk about ourselves.
If we are prideful, we will tend to have a high opinion of ourselves. In fact, we will often talk about ourselves, including our accomplishments and abilities, so others can share our high opinion of ourselves. Also, we might continually try to find ways to show others our accomplishments like the Pharisees did. In Matthew 6:1-18, Christ described how they often prayed on the public street corners to be seen by others. When they fasted, they made sure everybody knew about it. When they gave, they sounded the trumpet so everybody could see their generosity and piousness. As mentioned in Luke 18:9-14, they even made sure God knew about their good works by boasting in their prayers. We should be very careful if we always desire for others to know about our accomplishments and successes. It’s a sign of a prideful heart, and it will hinder our prayers. Personally, I can remember as a young student being the one who got an A on a test and always feeling the need to let others know about it. If others didn’t know, it’s like it didn’t happen. I was the guy asking everybody, “What did you get? What did you get?” so I could tell them what I got. We must be careful of a desire to be seen and approved by others. It’s especially easy for this subtle spirit of pride to infect the hearts of those serving in ministry, even as it had infected the Pharisees. It’s easy for pastors, elders, worship leaders, youth ministers, and the like, to have the same prideful motives and therefore lack power in their prayers.
To protect ourselves from prideful motives, Christ said we should practice secrecy in our giving, fasting, praying, and any other good works (Matt 6:1-18). This will protect our hearts from its prideful tendency to want to be seen and applauded by others.
2. We can tell whether we are prideful by how we view and treat others.
Again, as seen in the Parable of the Tax Collector and the Pharisee, the Pharisee looked down on and criticized the tax collector for being a sinner. The Pharisee built himself up by bringing others down. A judgmental spirit that continually puts down others who fail at something or don’t meet our standards is rooted in pride. Be very careful of a judgmental spirit that always criticizes leadership, those who serve, or even those who don’t meet our societal expectations in education, money, clothing, or beauty. That’s all a symptom of a proud heart which will hinder the effectiveness of our prayers. God exalts the humble and humbles the proud. We must beware of pride in our hearts and practice humility as a discipline—serving in secret and putting others before ourselves.
Someone rightly described humility as not thinking less of oneself but simply thinking less about oneself and more about God and others, which is what God honors.
Application Question: What is humility, why is it important for prayer, and how can we grow in it? What are marks of pride in the life of a believer? Why must we so vigilantly guard against pride in our hearts?
A Powerful Prayer Life Is Persistent Even during Discouragements
So Ahab went on up to eat and drink, while Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel. He bent down toward the ground and put his face between his knees. He bent down toward the ground and put his face between his knees. He told his servant, “Go on up and look in the direction of the sea.” So he went on up, looked, and reported, “There is nothing.” Seven times Elijah sent him to look. The seventh time the servant said, “Look, a small cloud, the size of the palm of a man’s hand, is rising up from the sea.” Elijah then said, “Go and tell Ahab, ‘Hitch up the chariots and go down, so that the rain won’t overtake you.’” Meanwhile the sky was covered with dark clouds, the wind blew, and there was a heavy rainstorm. Ahab rode toward Jezreel.
1 Kings 18:42-45
After Elijah climbed to the top of Mount Carmel and began to pray for rain, he asked his servant to “Go on up and look in the direction of the sea” (v. 42). Apparently, though Elijah had climbed to the top of Carmel, there was a higher part of the mountain where the servant could climb and get a better view of the sea and the sky. After the servant had climbed to the peak and looked around, he returned and told Elijah, “There is nothing” (v. 43). This happened six more times as Elijah continued to pray. Eventually, the servant reported a small cloud in the distance which was the size of the palm of a hand. Soon after, dark clouds covered the sky and there was a heavy thunderstorm. This part of the narrative demonstrates that Elijah was persistent in prayer despite discouragements. This is another characteristic of a powerful prayer life.
We see the need for persevering prayer in the story of Jesus and the Canaanite woman who approached Christ about casting a demon out of her daughter in Matthew 15:21-28. She approached him several times asking for the healing of her daughter. First, Christ simply didn’t reply. While he was quiet, his disciples begged him to send her away. Then, Christ finally responded by saying, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” In response, she simply cried out, “Lord, help me” (Matt 15:24). In response, Christ said, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs” (Matt 15:26). But she replied, “Yes, Lord, but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table” (Matt 15:27). Finally, Christ declared, “Woman, your faith is great! Let what you want be done for you” (Matt 15:28).
It seems clear that it was not that Christ did not want to help the woman and her daughter. He did. But, he also wanted the delayed answer to develop her faith; therefore she needed to persevere through apparent rejections.
Likewise, for us, the development of our character is more important to God than a specific trial being removed or us receiving the desires of our heart. Therefore, he will often delay answering our prayers—allowing perseverance to do its work in us, developing greater faith, character, and hope. James 1:4 simply says, “And let endurance have its perfect effect, so that you will be perfect and complete, not deficient in anything.” And Romans 5:3-4 says, “Not only this, but we also rejoice in sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance, character, and character, hope.”
With some prayers, we will get a definite, “No,” as God closes the door or speaks definitively in our hearts. With Paul, when he asked God to remove his thorn in the flesh, God simply said, “No,” because the burden served a greater purpose in his life—keeping him humble and allowing God to empower him for great works (2 Cor 12:7-9). With other prayers, we’ll pray, and God may not accomplish our request in our lifetime. He will take us home or remove the burden, and somebody else will pick it up and pray until God accomplishes his will. Other times, God may quickly answer affirmatively. We certainly saw that when Elijah prayed for fire to come from heaven, and it quickly did. But at other times, there is a need to persevere, as God does a special work in our hearts and others and then grants our request.
There are great benefits to persevering in prayer. (1) It conforms our hearts to God’s will and develops our character. (2) It removes hindrances to God’s work and opens the door to great moves of God in our personal lives, communities, and the nations.
As we consider the need for persevering prayer, we must ask ourselves these questions: “What situations has God called us to persevere in praying over? How is God working on our hearts and developing our character in the waiting process? Is faith coming out or worry, anger, bitterness, doubt, and other sins?” Persistent prayer is a mark of a powerful prayer life. As with Elijah and the Canaanite widow, it demonstrates great faith and pleases God.
Application Question: Why are we so prone to sinful attitudes and actions in seasons where God has called us to simply pray and wait? What has God called you to persevere in prayer about, and what is God accomplishing in your heart as you wait?
A Powerful Prayer Life Makes a Powerful Disciple
Elijah then said, “Go and tell Ahab, ‘Hitch up the chariots and go down, so that the rain won’t overtake you.’” Meanwhile the sky was covered with dark clouds, the wind blew, and there was a heavy rainstorm. Ahab rode toward Jezreel. Now the Lord energized Elijah with power; he tucked his robe into his belt and ran ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel.
1 Kings 18:44b-46
After Elijah spends time in persevering prayer, not only does God answer by bringing rain, but there is also a residual power in Elijah’s life from his time in prayer. Elijah tells Ahab to leave in his chariot because it was about to rain, and as Ahab rides to Jezreel, the Lord empowers Elijah to run ahead of Ahab all the way there—a 14-mile cross-country run.1 Likewise, continual time in prayer brings power in the life of God’s followers. We see this throughout Scripture. As mentioned previously, after Christ fasted for forty days, Scripture says he left the wilderness in “the power of the Spirit.” It was after he fasted that he began his preaching, healing, and exorcism ministry. Likewise, in Acts 4, after the apostles were forbidden by the Pharisees to speak in Christ’s name, they called a prayer meeting. Acts 4:31 says, “When they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God courageously.” The building was shaken, and they were filled with the Spirit to speak boldly. In fact, when we neglect our prayer time, we will lack spiritual power. In Mark 9:29, though Christ had given the disciples power to cast out demons, they were unable to heal a young boy. After Christ healed him, they asked why they were not able to. Christ simply replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.” The disciples had neglected consistent times of prayer and therefore did not have the spiritual power to cast out the demon, or they simply needed to pray more and longer to break that type of stronghold. How often does this happen to us? How often do we lack power to help someone or change a situation because of a lack of intercessory prayer?
A powerful prayer life makes a powerful disciple. Elijah’s prayer life led to the rain stopping for three and a half years, a child being resurrected, fire falling from heaven, rain falling after a severe drought, and him also outrunning a chariot of horses.
Why does the church lack power? It’s because the church doesn’t pray as it should, both individually and corporately. Therefore, when someone needs a word of wisdom, it’s hard to find. When someone needs a prophetic voice, there is silence. When someone needs healing, it can’t be found. A powerful prayer life makes a powerful disciple; therefore, we must above all make time to pray.
Application Question: If there is so much power in prayer, why do believers often struggle with consistently praying? In what ways have you experienced spiritual power through prayer and other spiritual disciplines?
Application Question: Since prayer is so important, what are some simple disciplines that will help enhance our prayer life?
1. To enhance our prayer life, we must routinely set aside times to pray.
Like with any discipline, we must take time to do it. Yes, we are called to pray without ceasing (1 Thess 5:16). However, without set times of intimate prayer with God, our spontaneous prayers throughout the day won’t be as rich and fluid. For example, my wife and I try to have regular date nights to focus on undistracted communication and enjoyment of each other. Having a date night doesn’t mean we don’t talk at other times. We have a date night in order to enhance our routine, daily communication. This discipline makes us less prone to miscommunicate. This is true of prayer. Having regular focused times of prayer will enhance our spontaneous praying throughout the day
We should select times to focus on prayer and guard them. A great time to do this—apart from distractions—is in the morning. In the Psalms, the writers often talk about seeking the Lord in the morning. Consider the following verses: Psalm 119:147 says, “I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word.” Psalm 5:3 says, “In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.” Similarly, Christ often got up early in the morning, while it was still dark, and went to pray (Mk 1:35). The morning is a great time for us to focus on prayer as well. It is harder to be distracted when nobody else is up and the daily grind hasn’t begun.
Another interesting thought to consider is that we often don’t pray because we feel like we don’t have enough time. However, prayer maximizes our time. Martin Luther understood this. A famous quote of his is, “I have so much to do today that I’m going to need to spend three hours in prayer in order to be able to get it all done.” He realized that time devoted to prayer typically makes the rest of the day more productive. It will make us more effective at work and in relationships with others—we will accomplish more. The reason this is true is because through devoted prayer we invite the Divine, not only into our great tasks and trials, but also our mundane. The Lord maximizes the time of those who maximize their time with him. Certainly, we will find this true, as many others have.
Are we setting aside fixed times to be with the Lord?
2. To enhance our prayer life, we must choose a quiet place to regularly meet with God.
In Matthew 6:6, Christ called us to go into our room and close the door—to seek the Lord in secret. He practiced this himself, as he commonly went on a mountain to pray (cf. Lk 6:12, 9:28, Matt 14:23). In Acts 10:9, Peter went on his rooftop to pray. Where do we go to get alone, away from distractions, to focus on God? It doesn’t necessarily have to be a room; it can be a routine. It could be a walk in the morning. It could be putting on our headphones to listen to worship while bringing our requests before God. Where is your secret place? What is your routine where you meet with God? Christ had one and so did his apostles (cf. Acts 6:4, 10:9). We should have one as well.
3. To enhance our prayer life, we must constantly study and obey God’s Word.
If prayer is talking to God, meditating on God’s Word is God talking to us. We can’t have a healthy prayer life if we are not hearing God speak back. A one-sided conversation is never very productive. Prayer flows out of regular meditation on God’s Word. In fact, our faithfulness to God’s Word leads to answered prayer. As mentioned, in John 15:7-8, Christ said: “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”
How can Christ’s words “remain” in us? They remain in us by consistently studying them—where we think about them all day long. They also remain in us as we daily obey them. When a person does this, Christ says their prayers will be effective. God will answer their prayers.
4. To enhance our prayer life, we must regularly pray with others.
Since Christ is our perfect example in all things including prayer, we must see that he not only prayed individually but also modeled and taught corporate prayer. When Christ went to pray right before going to the cross, he brought three disciples to pray with him (Matt 26). He did the same at his transfiguration on the mount (Matt 17). In fact, the Lord’s Prayer is in the plural: “our Father,” “our trespasses,” “our daily bread,” and “deliver us from evil” (Matt 6:9-13). Though Christ emphasized and practiced individual prayer, he also focused on his and our need to pray corporately. We must do both. Corporate prayer enhances our prayer life, and Scripture says it is especially powerful. Matthew 18:19-20 says: “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
For this reason, we should commonly share our problems, concerns, and ambitions with others so they can pray in agreement with us. When we don’t do this, we spiritually impoverish ourselves. It’s like the eye saying to the hand, “I don’t need you.” We need the prayers of the body of Christ. When others agree with us in prayer, our prayers are more powerful.
Application Question: How would you currently rate your prayer life on a scale of 1 to 10, and why? What disciplines have you found most helpful to your prayer life?
What are marks of a powerful prayer life?
- A Powerful Prayer Life Is Rooted in Faith—Believing God’s Promises and Trusting His Character
- A Powerful Prayer Life Springs from Humility—Recognizing Our Weakness and Need for God
- A Powerful Prayer Life Is Persistent Even during Discouragements
- A Powerful Prayer Life Makes a Powerful Disciple
Application Question: What stood out most in the reading and why? What questions or applications did you take from the reading?
- Pray that God would increase our faith—that we would know his Word and trust him regardless of our situations or circumstances.
- Pray that God would deliver us from pride and independence, which will hinder our prayers, and enable us to approach him with humility and trust.
- Pray that God would give his church grace to grow in persevering prayer for his people and kingdom even during discouragements and difficult situations.
- Pray that God would empower his church to boldly preach his Word, bring healing to others, persevere through trials and attacks, and do mighty works for God.
Copyright © 2022 Gregory Brown
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1 Guzik, David. 1 Kings. 2005.