Sermon Notes

The Power of Prayer


  • The Christian’s attempt to pray as a last resort to the matters that concern him/her is a telling sign of his spiritual maturity and understanding of who God is, and how inconsequential he himself is in the grand scheme of things.
  • Last week, we began a series on prayer in our study of the 6th chapter of the Gospel, according to Matthew.And I talked about the meaning of prayer, why it’s a miraculous gift to God’s people, and why only a Christian can truly meet the standards of prayer.
    • Prayer is, intentionally conveying a message to God.
    • Its miraculous nature is in the contrast between the absolute worthiness of God and the utter unworthiness of man.
    • Everybody holds to a standard for prayer. However, the only standards that matters are the biblical standards laid out by God.
  • A Christian who is content with a broken prayer-life, is like a pilot who turns off the engines to his aircraft mid-flight with the faith that as long as he sees the green destination dot on his map, that his conviction will somehow carry him there.The Christian struggle to maintain this spiritual discipline called prayer (this practice of righteousness) can be seen on two fronts – in quantity and quality, in consistency and effectiveness.I see two fundamental reasons why Christians don’t pray consistently.
    1) They don’t understand the incredible power of prayer
    2) They don’t understand the utter and desperate need for prayer

    But I find that there is only one reason why Christians don’t pray well.
    1) They don’t know how to pray

  • This passage in Matthew 6 deals with much on the second issue of ‘how to pray’. However, in order to understand how we must do something, we must first establish the what and the why of it.
    We spent the major portion of last week’s sermon talking about the what of it.
  • Today, we are going to look at the why of it, and next week, talk about the how of it. [Now these are not mutually exclusive categories]
    When we consider the how of prayer, we will have to deal with the context of the practice of prayer, and the content of the prayer itself.


  • The pride of the Jews
    • Matthew 6:5“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 
    • Prayer was more than a matter of obedience in the life of the Jews. It was a pride, a praiseworthy act, an easy way to feign piety. The Jews were God’s chosen people.
      John 4:2222 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.
      Genesis 18:22-3322 So the men turned from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the LORD. 23 Then Abraham drew near and said, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city. Will you then sweep away the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it? 25 Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” 26 And the LORD said, “If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”
      27 Abraham answered and said, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes. 28 Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking. Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?” And he said, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.” 29 Again he spoke to him and said, “Suppose forty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of forty I will not do it.” 30 Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak. Suppose thirty are found there.” He answered, “I will not do it, if I find thirty there.” 31 He said, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord. Suppose twenty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it.” 32 Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.” 33 And the LORD went his way, when he had finished speaking to Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place.
    • Their God is God! He is the Living God! And they were His people!
      God heard the prayers of His people, and that was their strength.
      The magnanimous nature of this Supreme Being to these insignificant lot was what made the Jews so powerful.
      Exodus 33:15-1615 And he said to him, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here. 16 For how shall it be known that I have found favour in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?” 
    • So, for the Jew, to pray was to speak to God. And since they were His people by covenant, the ones who prayed well, were praised and revered.
      The loved it! Although their prayers hadn’t parted the red sea or resulted in great manifestable acts by God for 400 years in the intertestamental period, they found alternate benefits of praying – namely, the praise of men.
    • The power of prayer is not in the ability of the man who prays, but in the fact that God hears him.
  • The pride of the Christians
    • Prayers today, are in much the same danger of being stripped and remodelled to suit the delights of the current culture and systems of the world. Things, at the root, haven’t changed all that much.
    • So many people define prayer after their own desires, and many of these people call themselves Christian.
      [Prayer as finding the inner voice of who you are]
      [Prayer as a permission for God to do His will]
  • From the Jews to the Christians, the folly of their pride distorts the same two aspects of prayer that I mentioned earlier – quantity and quality.
    • How many times, and how many words, are two of the most common roads to false piety in prayer.
    • The why of prayer, and the how of prayer are crucial to ensuring that we are not unwise in our approach to this wondrous gift

The incredible power of prayer & our desperate need for prayer

  • The power of prayer is not in the ability of the man who prays, but in the fact that God hears him.
    Let me give you 5 reasons as to why prayer is so powerful,

    1. God has established prayer as one of our primary means of grace
      God ordains both ends and means. He predestines the end of all things and the means by which those ends are met. If our sanctification is the end, one of the way He achieves that sanctification in us is through our prayers.And so, that brings us to a consideration of the different types of prayers (they are well explained in, which will be an anchor to all the five reasons I give you as to why prayer is powerful

      • The prayer of Faith:
        James 5:1613 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him vsing praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, wanointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And xif he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, yconfess your sins to one another and pray for one another, zthat you may be healed. aThe prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
      • The prayer of Agreement / Corporate prayer:
        Acts 1:14 (before pentecost)14 All these fwith one accord gwere devoting themselves to prayer, together with hthe women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and ihis brothers.
        Acts 2:42 (after pentecost)42 And athey devoted themselves to the apostles’ bteaching and the cfellowship, to dthe breaking of bread and the prayers.
      • The prayer of Request:
        Philippians 4:6-7rdo not be anxious about anything, sbut in everything by prayer and supplication twith thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And uthe peace of God, vwhich surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
        Ephesians 6:18 (after putting on the armour of God)18 praying yat all times zin the Spirit, awith all prayer and supplication. To that end, bkeep alert with all perseverance, making csupplication for all the saints
      • The prayer for Wisdom
        This is a very common need in our lives, and I think it is worth giving a special mention though it technically comes under a prayer of Request.
      • The prayer of Thanksgiving:
        with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God
        1 Thessalonians 5:16-1816 vRejoice always, 17 wpray without ceasing, 18 xgive thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
      • The prayer of Worship:
        If thanksgiving is a prayer for what God has done, worship is a prayer for who God is.
        Acts 13:2-3 – While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.
      • The prayer of Consecration:
        The prayer of setting ourselves apart, for consecrating our lives to God.
        Matthew 26:39 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.What I personally believe is the appropriate form of infant dedication (not infant baptism).
      • The prayer of Intercession:
        1 Timothy 2:12 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people
      • The prayer of Imprecation:
        Prayers that invoke God’s judgment on the wicked, calling for God to avenge His people.
        But Jesus also teach us in Matthew 5:44-48But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love youI sometimes find myself praying for God’s discipline upon false teachers and false prophets.
    1. It is a vital component in the life of a believer
      • Looking at prayer as a means of grace already gives us a lot of reasons as to why it is a vital part of individual Christian living. Not availing this means of grace then, is both foolish and sinful.
        • James 4:2-3You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask zwrongly, to spend it on your passions.
        • Matthew 7:7-11y“Ask, zand it will be given to you; aseek, and you will find; bknock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for cbread, will give him ca stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, dwho are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will zyour Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
      • God is your audience
        Matthew 6:6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
    1. It is a vital component in the life of the church
      • Churches love to adorn themselves in a praiseworthy manner, not often to delight the eyes of the Lord, but of the people. Therefore, they adorn themselves in structure, committees for this and that, programs and events, finance and assets, church building, and the likes; but will they adorn themselves with prayer and fasting, with giving and serving, with sacrifice and care?
      • The life of the corporate body of Christ, the local church, is an outflow, a general average if you want to call it that, of the lives of the people that make up that church.
      • Colossians 4:2-4 cContinue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it dwith thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may eopen to us a door for the word, fto declare the mystery of Christ, gon account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. 
      • 2 Corinthians 1:11 – You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.
      • Acts 12:5So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest lprayer for him was made to God by the church.
      • Peter encourages leaders to set an example for the people in 1 Peter 5:1-3So I exhort the elders among you, mas a fellow elder and na witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: oshepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight,1 pnot under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you;2 qnot for shameful gain, but eagerly; not rdomineering over those in your charge, but sbeing examples to the flock.
      • [Prophecy of intercession for the church]
    1. It is a vital component in the life of the family
      • If setting an example in the church requires for people to pray, how much then must the people in a home pray together?
      • The life of prayer of an individual believer must spill over out into his/her family before it flows out into the local church.
      • A family that prays together stays together.
    1. It is the first and final act of evangelism
      • When we think of evangelism, proclamation is the only thing that often comes to mind. No beloved, prayer is the first and final act of evangelism. If you see the power of prayer and the utter ineffectiveness of your flesh, it will always drive you to pray before you act on anything.


  • Matthew 26:36-46 / Mark 14:32-42 – In these two passages, we see how the Master of our souls, Jesus our Lord, models for us prayer. The divine plan in the humanity of Christ was that He humbled Himself to the point that in order to overcome the deepest fears and sorrows of the flesh, He subjected Himself to the need to pray.
    Beloved, God never needs to pray. Yet here, the humility of Christ makes me speechless as I adore the Saviour who prays that we might be encouraged to pray like Him. Even then, the elite three of His apostles couldn’t watch with Him for even an hour.
  • We must be a people of prayer! 
Michael Teddy Fernandez

Author Michael Teddy Fernandez

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