Peninsula Community Church
The Power of Prayer
August 6, 2017
Mark 9:29 And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”
If we were to poll the group gathered here today, I am sure that we would find that everyone one of us have an issue or problem that is exerting its influence upon our life. Too often, these issues are exert their influence which causes us to doubt our connection to God as a believer. It also move us to a place where we fail to recognize the power of God in our life, or at least we question His power. As we consider these issues, today, we will review one of the great principles of Jesus’ ministry. This principle is the power of prayer. It is a principle that can change us from having an ineffective and fruitless life to one where we live in the fulness of what God has done and is doing in us.
To understand this principle, we begin with the premise that there is power through prayer. Throughout Scripture there is a consistent and ongoing reference to the power of prayer. In the Bible there are illustrations of the power of prayer. There are stories of God’s intervention through prayer. There are statements made by Jesus and other writers that encourage us toward a lifestyle of prayer. The passage before us is one such reference. Here we find that Jesus makes a powerful proclamation of truth. He states “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.” Personally, I am grateful that Mark thought enough of this story to include it in his narrative of Jesus’ life. The result is that we are the benefactors of the truth expressed here. The result is that we come to an understanding that prayer has an impact on our lives.
Let me relate the story to you. The parents of a boy had a son who had a spirit attached to him. In those days many illnesses and diseases were defined as demonic or spiritual attachments. They did not know how to define it any other way. His condition was one that made him mute and at times caused him to be thrown to the ground where he would grind his teeth, foam at the mouth, and become very rigid. The symptoms experienced seem to describe some kind seizure activity. Regardless of the problem, this issue was pressing on the parents and it caused grief to the young boy. The parents had become tired of the activity and they wanted something to change. They wanted to get past this obstacle. They wanted their son to be free and they wanted to be free from the torment they realized as a result of his condition.
Because Jesus was busy teaching and ministering to others, the parents brought the child to the disciples in hopes they could bring some relief. The disciples did what they knew to do but were ineffective. They tried to cast out the spirit but were not able to do so. This was a frustrating moment for the mother, for the child, and for the disciples. What they wanted to do did not happen. They were frustrated that nothing changed. Nothing was different.
The only one in the story not frustrated was Jesus. In His review of the situation He ascertained that the problem lay in the fact that the disciples had tried to exert spiritual power without being connected to the source. For that reason, Jesus stated that the resolution to this kind of problem could only come by prayer. You see they faced a problem that was bigger than they were and it was a problem bigger than they could manage. It was a problem that devastated the family. They needed an answer and prayer was the one tool that was most effective in bringing needed results.
The fact is, in life, we are all confronted with problems that are bigger than us. We feel devastated and we fill powerless to accomplish much or overcome the difficulties we face. Let me bring this closer to home. We all have family members we want to see be better or do better. We all have issues that seem so large that it is almost impossible to overcome them. We all have fears and anxieties that loom large in life. These issues control us and neuter our ability to make progress in life. For example, here in Sussex County, as in many parts of our nation, we are facing a drug epidemic that is effecting everyone in some way. Recently, I met with some folks in regard to the drug epidemic and the overwhelming sense was that there was not much that could be done immediately. In their mind the problem is out of control without a solution. But I am convinced that through prayer even the drug epidemic can be dealt with. There is power through prayer.
Through prayer we can confront the problems we face. No matter what the problem is, there is hope. There is power available to us. We can overcome. One of my favorite stories in the Old Testament is the story of David and Goliath. In 1 Samuel 17, we find that the nation of Israel was neutralized in their power and were back on their heels. They were filled with fear and anxiety. Why? They had a giant that stood before them. Day after day Goliath, the giant, mocked them and ridiculed them. He did all of this without throwing a spear or actually attacking them in any way. He simply hurled insults and lies their way.
For forty days, all he did was throw out accusations and demeaning words at them. The children of Israel succumbed to these words which resulted in them standing powerless before the giant. They were intimated and were frozen in their tracks. You see the army of Israel and Saul were to be the protectors of Israel. Instead they stood cowering in the shadow of the giant. He had power over them and they gave him this power. He neutralized their ability to answer his attacks.
While they stood cowering in fear, a young boy shows up. David had no outward sign of being able to take on the giant. He had no armor. He had no professional training as a soldier. But he had something that no one else had. He had a connection with God that was missing in the army’s life and for that matter in the king’s life. This was no ordinary boy. He had a confidence in God’s ability to overcome whatever was thrown his way. He had an experience that far exceeded any training or education the army had.
What made the difference? Day after day David communed with God. He prayed to God. He worshipped God. He had a connection with God like no other in his day. How do we know this? We find that David had overtaken a bear. He had destroyed a lion that had gone after his flock. We see this through the Psalms that David penned. He proclaimed the greatness of God. He proclaimed the need to have a connection with God. The Psalms give insight into the heart of David. David was a worshipper of God and he was a man of prayer.
We should know that the army of Saul were not bad people. They were good at what they did. The disciples were not bad people either. The problem is that they missed a critical part of the mission to which they had been called. They needed to communicate to the one who was truly in charge and who had the power to bring the victory they needed.
The difference was found in their ability to pray and focus on God. Through prayer David lived in a reality that caused him to focus on a source bigger than himself and his problem. It allowed him to recognize the character of God. When we focus on a source bigger than ourselves, it allows us to see God for who He is. We will see Him as the one who is able to destroy every giant we face. Whether we face a spirit that demoralizes us or a giant that intimidates us, through prayer these issues are neutralized.
Listen to the words of David. “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the LORD saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give you into our hand” (1 Samuel 17:45-47). Powerful words from a man who had encountered a powerful God.
Through prayer we invite the presence of God into our lives. We can have Him in our heart but not allow Him to direct our life. Too often we try to live without God and then wonder why things are so messed up. The fact is we need God to be intricately involved in every aspect of our lives. Through prayer we are focused on inviting Him to do that in our lives. By having His presence in our lives, we are conditioned to hear the voice of truth rather than the lies the enemy tries to promote.
So what are your giants today? Is it anxiety? Is it fear? Is it intimidation? Is it family issues? You name it, we all have giants that want to intimidate us and destroy us if at all possible. We all have giants in our life that desire to minimize our impact for God. What is your giant? I can tell you that if you will focus on God in prayer that your giant will be diminished.
As we close take a moment and listen to a song by Casting Crowns entitled the “Voice of Truth.” Listen to words and recognize today that the giants in your life can and will fall when we hear the voice of truth and commit ourselves to focusing on God’s will and plan for our life.
For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14
Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom