Chapter 17: Gaining Strength Through Prayer

Why Pray?

Prayer Gives us Power Over Evil

Can physical strength help us overcome obstacles and challenges in the spiritual realm? No, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). But in prayer even the physically weak can become strong in the spiritual realm. As such, we can call upon God to grant us power over evil.

  • For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” -1 Timothy 4:8
  • “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” – Matthew 26:41

Prayer Strengthens the Bonds Between Believers

Prayer not only strengthens our relationship with God, but when we pray with other believers, prayer also strengthens the bonds between fellow Christians.

Prayer Fulfills Emotional Needs

Do we need God through prayer? Yes! We were made to function best, emotionally, in a prayerful relationship with God. As C.S. Lewis put it, “God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other.” 

The Supreme Importance of Prayer

Prayer is of supreme importance in the life of the Christian because it is the Christian’s vital breath. The Christian life is a new life –- His life, the life of the risen Lord Jesus implanted in us by the Holy Spirit –- look up 1 John 5:13-14. This new life can only be sustained by prayer, and only by prayer can we develop into robust, healthy Christians; without prayer we shall be anemic, lifeless and ineffective. This means that we should pray privately (Matthew 6:6), frequently (Psalm 55:17), regularly (Daniel 6:10); in times of trouble (Psalm 50:15) –- in fact, without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

Prayer is of supreme importance in the life of the Christian because of all it can accomplish in supplying every need. It is perfectly true that “more things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of”, but think of the wonderful accounts of the power of prayer which have been recorded for us in the Word of God. How many can you enumerate? In the light of these, is it not amazing that we do not pray more? For the believer, prayer is the divine method for supplying every need –- look up Philippians 4:19; and the reason we do not have is because we do not ask –- look up James 4:2. If only we would ask, we would receive –- look up Luke 11:9-10. What is it you need? Money? A house? Food? Employment? The salvation of some loved one? Then ask!

We Must Pray for Strength

We weak people frequently need to pray for strength. “Oh Father, please give me strength for ___” is a wonderful prayer. It’s a necessary prayer, and it’s a God-honoring prayer because it recognizes the true source of our strength (Exodus 15:2).

But when we ask God for strength, what are we asking for? Are we asking for the strength that God wants to give, or are we asking for the strength that we want to have?

The reason this is important to ask is because the two may not be the same. Highest on God’s agenda for us is strengthening our faith (Hebrews 11:6Galatians 2:20). Highest on our agenda is frequently accomplishing something necessary or noble, or escaping affliction or humiliation. These may not be wrong desires, but they may be the wrong priorities.

When this is the case, our conception of the strength we need differs from God’s.When we pray for strength, we may imagine the answer looking like increased capacities to accomplish or escape. But the strength that God supplies (1 Peter 4:11) is often increased capacities to trust his promises, which might require dying to our envisioned accomplishment or enduring what we wish to escape.

When our conceptions collide with God’s, we are tempted to grow frustrated with God and lose heart in prayer (Luke 18:1). Because we ask for strength and what we receive, it seems to us, is less strength. In fact, things get worse. Our weaknesses are heightened, not diminished. But what’s really happening here is not God’s negligence or indifference to our prayers, but a conflict between our expectations and God’s intentions.

However, once we realize that the strength that God is working to supply us is the best, most joyful and hope-giving strength we can possibly have, it will change the way we pray for strength and change our understanding of God’s answers.

When God begins to answer our prayer for strength, often the first thing he does is help us unlearn our wrong understandings. Experiencing the failure of these wrong understandings might initially cause us confusion, discouragement, or depression. But through the process of unlearning and re-learning, God supplies us the “strength to comprehend” his fathomless love and wise purposes (Ephesians 3:18–19).

An accurate understanding of God’s love and purposes then increases our faith. We begin to increasingly “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7) because we have a deeper understanding that God’s promises are more trustworthy than our perceptions (Proverbs 3:5). We begin to rely more on God than on ourselves (2 Corinthians 1:9). This is the strength that God wants to supply in answer to our prayers because it is the showcase of his strength (“my power is made perfect in weakness”).

As the strength of our faith grows, so does hope in our souls. When we rely less on ourselves and more on God who raises the dead, and when we are increasingly confident that God is for us, so nothing can ultimately stand against us (Romans 8:31), what happens is that “the God of hope [fills us] with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit [we] may abound in hope” (Romans 15:13).

God loves when you pray for strength. And he promises to answer you:

Fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10, emphasis added).

So, pray with confidence. And pray for the strength that God supplies. And keep your eyes open for his answers. They may not look like your expectations. But you can be sure that even when he answers with a weakening agent, God is working to strengthen your understanding, strengthen your faith, and strengthen your hope in him.

The Benefits of Prayer

Read Isaiah 40:28-31 (KJV) and notice the argument here: God is great and He is our Creator; we are small, weak and frail. When we wait upon God in prayer He exchanges our weakness for His strength. How reasonable and logical this is! But the question is: do you believe this? Rainey, who we referred to earlier, points out that the word ‘‘wait’’ (KJV) can have at least three meanings: first, it means to stop, as a father says to his child, ‘‘Wait here!’’; second, it means to be in an attitude of expectation, as we might go to a railway station to meet a friend; third, the Hebrew word means ‘‘to bind together by twisting’’. If we will pause in the hectic rush of life and wait before God in expectancy, we shall become entwined in His purposes and experience Ephesians 6:10.

Read James 4:8. This short sentence means that as we, with all our heart and mind, in humility and in sincerity, approach God to worship Him and make our requests, He actually begins to approach us –- we feel His presence near us –- see what David said about this (Psalm 73:28). It is amazing to think that we who are so weak, sinful and needy can come near to God, but how much more amazing it is that He, who is so great and loving, wants to come near to us! His is fellowship at the highest level.

We have heard that expression ““Prayer changes things”” –- how true this is! –- but have you ever thought that in fact prayer changes the pray-er? When we experience a renewal of strength, provision for our every need, His joy in full measure, His supply of sustaining grace, His peace to fill our hearts and minds, His heavenly wisdom, and the enjoyment of His constant presence, then we realize how beneficial it is to pray.

The Power of Prayer

Do we realize the power we have available to us when we take our authority in prayer? Most of us don’t realize our authority because if we did, we would be praying far more. We would be sacrificing everything else in order to pray. Instead of worrying about the increase in evil in our land, we would be on our faces before God crying out for His intervention. Unfortunately in many churches prayer is the weakest link. It should be the strongest one because it is the key to God’s blessing in the spirit realm. 

Authoritative intercession and heartfelt repentance is key to breakthrough in America. By exercising our authority in prayer and standing strong in God’s truth, we are working together with Him to determine the future of our nation. We have authority in prayer to actually see our personal lives and the lives of others change. We can pray authoritative prayers for our neighborhoods and cities. Certain things in history will happen through our intercession if we pray the way God wants us to pray. We can change nations through prayer if we choose to use this mighty weapon.

God has provided everything for us if we pray. We can have all we need. Most of us have not realized the power there is in prayer. We are not asking. All we have to do is reach out by faith and ask Him to touch our lives, our cities, and our nations. When we tap into his resources by faith and pray, miracles happen. When we exercise our authority in prayer, God answers in a powerful way. There is a strength and power in prayer that the Church has not yet known or realized. 

“Of what infinite importance is the place the intercessor holds in the Kingdom of God! Is it not indeed a matter of wonder that God should give men such power? Yet there are so few who know what it is to take hold of His strength and pray down His blessing on the world.”  E. M. Bounds

Chapter 17 Questions

  1. Pg 129-130: is the story of George McClusky who prayed for his family….and for future generations. His praying definitely had an impact within his family and beyond.
  2. Investigate and discuss these biblical men and women whose prayers changed things.
    • Hannah – I Sam 1
    • Nehemiah – Neh 1
    • Daniel – Dan 6
    • Paul – Eph 1:17-19, Eph 3:16-19, Phil 1: 9-11, Col.1:9-12 ( We just studied these !!!)
  3. Pg 131: True or false? “Many of us continue to make the mistake of trying to compensate for our lack of communion with God with increased social and spiritual activity“ (Thrasher)
  4. Pg 131: ”If you do not pray … God will probably lay you aside from your ministry as he did me, to teach you how to pray “ (Robert Murray McCheyne). Has God ever changed your life to teach you how to pray ?
  5. Share any new thoughts /insights from the book or notes.




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