I am sure every Christian is aware that prayer is an important part of the Christian’s life. Many books on the subject have been written. So, a valid question might be, why another book on prayer?
During the fall of 1999 the Lord led my wife and me to look more closely at the biblical teaching on the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Since that time I have become aware of several aspects of the baptism of the Holy Spirit that I had not previously understood. One vital area that the Lord has broadened my understanding in is prayer. The truths presented in this book on prayer are those that I am convinced must be understood and experienced if we are to be ready for Christ’s return.
Some things you will read in this book may not be new to you. However, I believe the Lord is calling us to better understand concepts about prayer that we have only a limited understanding of. I believe there will be presented some truths about prayer that you have not been as familiar with. For instance, I was aware of the phrase “pray in the Spirit.” However, I have come to realize that I did not really understand what it meant. The Lord has clarified such questions as;
• Why is prayer really necessary?
• What does it mean to pray in the Spirit?
• What is intercessory prayer and how does it work?
• What is united prayer and why is it more powerful than only one praying?
• Why is fasting an important aspect of prayer?
I have sought to answer these along with many more questions about prayer in this book.
Another important concern that I believe most every Christian has is; why is it so difficult to have a consistent, powerful prayer life? If we are honest with ourselves I think most of us will have to admit that we have many times promised God that we would pray more only to find ourselves falling back into our previous nominal prayer life. The goal of this book is to change that forever. The teachings of this book will make it possible for you to develop a truly meaningful, consistent, and powerful prayer life in the Spirit.
If you long to have this kind of prayer life I invite you to ask God right now to give you the understanding of prayer and desire to pray that He wants you to have. Only God can change us from a “prayer-less Laodicean” Christian to a spiritually revived “mighty, prevailing praying” Christian. God has led you to read this book for that very reason. He is calling you to become a mighty prayer warrior for Him. He is calling you out of Laodicea in order to prepare for Christ’s soon coming. He is calling you to a prayer life that is necessary for you to have in order to gain the victory over every influence and oppression of Satan in your life, and be ready when Christ returns.
For this to happen to the fullest we must know deep within our heart that prayer is simply speaking with the One who loves us with all His heart; the One who gave of Himself in the person of Jesus Christ so we can be close to Him and live with Him forever. Stormie Omartian defines prayer as:
“Prayer is baring your soul to the One who loved you before you even knew of Him and letting Him speak to your heart.” The Prayer That Changes Everything, p.9
The more we truly realize God’s love for us the more intimate our relationship will be with Him. The more intimate our relationship is with Him, the more meaningful our prayer life will be.
Prayer plays a vital role in the salvation of the one praying as well as the one prayed for. Jesus said in His prayer recorded by the disciple John:
“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” John 17:3
Our eternal life depends on “knowing” God. On two occasions Jesus said He would declare “I do not know you” to those professed Christians who will not be ready to meet Him when He returns. A meaningful prayer life is essential for us to “know” God as we must if we are to be among the redeemed when He comes. Hence, the teachings in this book on prayer are as essential for God’s remnant people as are any teaching in the Bible.
I have found that even though most Christians believe prayer is important, many do not understand why prayer is really necessary. Many question: If God is sovereign and able to carry out His will, why do we need to pray for Him to do what He already wants and plans to do anyway? Some reason that prayer is primarily for our benefit, but God is still going to do what He wants whether we pray or not. The idea is popular that it is a “privilege” to pray, but not really a necessity for God to carry out His will on earth. The truth of the matter is, it is necessary for God’s children to pray. Why else would Jesus tell us to pray that God’s will be “done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). If believers do not pray, God’s desires will not be carried out in this earth. In this chapter we will see why this is true.
Prayer is as essential to our Christian life and the work of God on earth as breathing is to everyday living. If one refuses or is unable to breathe his life ceases. If one refuses to pray for himself, he will be very weak spiritually and ultimately cease to be a Christian. If believers neglect to pray for the lost, their efforts to win them to Jesus Christ will be of no avail. It requires prayer to bring life to ourselves and to those who are spiritually “dead.” Prayer is required to sustain spiritual life and advance God’s kingdom.
I am sure many Christians—at least those living in these last days—have asked themselves: “Why is prayer so important? Isn’t God going to do what He wants to do whether I pray or not?”
Satan wants to confuse the believer concerning prayer. He wants to keep us from understanding the vital role prayer plays in the work of God in this earth and in saving the lost. Satan knows that if he can get the Christian to be negligent in the area of prayer he has little to fear concerning the believer’s spiritual growth in Christ or his effectiveness as a laborer for God in His work on earth.
I believe God’s Word teaches that prayer is necessary for an individual and church to experience revival. Prayer is necessary for the “strongholds” of Satan to be cast down, and for the saving of the lost. Prayer is necessary for a Christian to remain strong in the Lord. I find it amazing that prayer, which seems so powerless and insignificant to the natural man, is so necessary and powerful for the spiritual man. Why is prayer so important and necessary in the Christian’s life and God’s work? Let’s look at the creation of mankind to find the answer.
When God created Adam He created man in His own “likeness” and “image,” (Genesis 1:26-27). The Hebrew word translated “likeness” is “damah,” which means “similar to.” The Hebrew word translated “image” is “tselem” and means a “resemblance” or “representational image.” The word is used when referring to an idol, which represents a god. When God created man He created him in many ways like Himself.
God did something else when He created man. He gave man “dominion” on earth (Genesis 1:26-27). The Hebrew word translated “dominion” is “radhah,” which means “to rule” or “reign” over. Adam was to be the ruler of this world as God’s representative. He was to “keep” the earth (Genesis 2:15). The Hebrew word translated “keep” is “shamar,” which means to “guard against intruders,” “to preserve and keep safe.” Adam was to be God’s authoritative representative on earth. He was to be the earth’s watchman or guardian. He was to “re-present” God on this earth.
The psalmist further describes the position God gave man at creation. David was inspired to write that God crowned man with “glory and honor” (Psalm 8:5). Looking again at the original Hebrew words translated “glory” and “honor” we find that man was given “majesty” similar to a king’s reigning authority. Hence, we see that at creation the earth was put under Adam’s authority. What happened on earth depended on Adam.
Adam’s authority and ruler-ship on earth was so complete that Adam was in a position to give this authority away to another. We know the sad story of Adam’s fall as recorded in Genesis chapter three. Adam gave the authority of this earth over to God’s archenemy, Satan. Satan well knew what he had gained when Adam yielded to his temptations to disobey God. When tempting Christ in the wilderness, Satan showed Him all the “kingdoms of the world” and stated: “All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it” (Luke 4:6). Jesus never disputed Satan’s claim to have authority and dominion over this earth. In fact, three times Satan is called the “ruler of this world” in the New Testament (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11).
Even though Satan gained dominion over this earth through Adam’s fall God did not change his decision to work through humans to carry out His will on this earth. So complete was this decision that it was necessary for God to become man to win this world back (John 1:1-3, 14). The first Adam gave man’s authority over this earth away. The second Adam, Christ, won it back and brought deliverance to Satan’s captives (Romans 5). At the creation of this world God established the principle that humans were to forever be His means of exercising His authority and activity in this earth.
This brings us to the main focus of this chapter on why prayer is essential for the Christian’s spiritual growth and the advancement of God’s kingdom on earth. Prayer is necessary because from the beginning God intended to work through humans, not independent of them, in carrying out His will on earth. God works through the prayers of His people.
When God wills to do something in this earth it is necessary for man to pray that God do it. Many examples of this are seen in both the Old and New Testament. We are to ask for “God’s will be done on earth” (Matt 6:10). We are to ask for our daily bread (Matthew 6:11). We are to pray “laborers be sent into the harvest field” (Matthew 9:38). Paul asked believers to pray for the advancement of the gospel (2Thessalonians 3:1). All these things are God’s will. However, it is necessary for man to pray for them because prayer releases God’s power to carry out His will in this earth. Remember, it is God’s plan to work through man, not work independent of him.
We see a very clear example of this in the experience of Elijah. God told Elijah there would be a drought for three and one half years. In order for the drought to happen it was necessary for Elijah to pray that it occur (James 5:17). Three and a half years later God promised to send rain and end the drought (1Kings 18:1, 41-44). Again Elijah knew it was necessary for him to pray for the rain if rain were to come even though it was God’s will to send the rain. We are told that Elijah had to pray seven times before the rain came. Elijah knew if he stopped praying for God to fulfill His promise to send rain the rain would not come. Ellen White points out the necessity of Elijah’s persistent prayer when she states:
“Had he given up in discouragement at the sixth time, his prayer would not have been answered, but he persevered til the answer came.” SDA Bible Commentary, Vol. 2, p.1034
Persistent prayer is often required in releasing God’s power in this earth. When God desires to do something He moves upon the heart of His children to pray for it. However, we are always free to refuse to yield to His call to prayer.
Another clear example is seen in the book of Ezekiel. Israel had gone into great apostasy (Ezekiel 22:17-29). A very enlightening yet sad text follows. Israel justly deserved severe judgments from God because of her sins. However, God in His mercy sought for a man in Israel who would pray to Him for mercy that His judgments would be averted. The sad words are recorded: “but I found none,” (Ezekiel 22:30). As a result that no one was found who was willing to pray to God for His judgments to be withheld, God says: “Therefore have I poured out mine indignation upon them;” (Ezekiel 22:31).
As we read incident after incident recorded in the Bible about how vital prayer is in carrying out God’s will in this earth, there should be no question in any of our minds concerning the necessity of prayer. God works through the prayers of His people, not independently of them. Also, besides praying for our personal spiritual growth, we must also cooperate with God by following His revealed instruction in His Word, (2Timothy 3:16-17). Again the principle is clear. God works through both the prayers and efforts of His people to carry out His will in their lives.
That is why Satan is more afraid of the praying Christian than the active, working Christian. That is why Satan will do all in his power to keep you from becoming a Spirit filled, Spirit directed prayer intercessor for God. Wesley Duewel wrote:
“Satan fears prayer more than almost anything else we could ever do. Prevailing prayer is potentially the greatest continuing threat to Satan that there has been since Calvary. Nothing will please him more than to get you to stop or neglect a strategic prayer request. Hold on. If Satan is fighting, your persevering in prayer is worth all that it costs.” Mighty Prevailing Prayer, p.157
Ellen White wrote:
“There is a mighty power in prayer. Our great adversary is constantly seeking to keep the troubled soul away from God. An appeal to heaven by the humblest saint is more to be dreaded by Satan than the decrees of cabinets or the mandates of kings.” In Heavenly Places, p.82
God says, “mine house shall be called an house of prayer . . .” (Isaiah 56:7). The house of God in the Old Testament was the temple. In the New Testament the temple or house of God is His people, (1Corinthians 3:16). There are two significant evidences that we are God’s temple—we are filled with the Holy Spirit and we are a temple of prayer, (Romans 8:9). That is why the baptism of the Holy Spirit and prayer are vital for the Christian. A Christian without the Holy Spirit is not truly a Christian. A Christian who does not consistently pray is not truly a Christian. Prayer and the baptism of the Holy Spirit will be the hallmarks of those ready to meet Jesus. Yes, as Seventh-day Adventists we know that the Sabbath will also be an issue. However, there is a danger that we focus on such doctrines to save us rather than focusing on Jesus. Remember it was Sabbath keeping, tithe paying, health reformers who crucified Jesus. It is not what we know, but Who we know that will lead to salvation. And it is through prayer and the baptism of the Holy Spirit that we truly get to “know” Jesus. We can have many other evidences that we think indicate we are ready to meet Jesus when He returns. We may be keeping the Sabbath, paying tithe or following health reform principles. However, if we do not know Him through prayer and the baptism of the Holy Spirit we will hear the words, “I know you not,” (Matthew 25:1-12). We may be involved in an apparently successful ministry for Jesus with even signs and wonders happening, but if we do not know Him through prayer and the baptism of the Holy Spirit we will hear the words, “I never knew you,” (Matthew 7:21-23).
It is essential that every Christian take seriously God’s call to pray and be filled with His Spirit. Whenever God’s people gather for fellowship and worship prayer should be a major part of their gathering. This was the case for those first century Christians, (Acts 2:42, 46-47).
My desire is that every sincere Christian who reads this book will never again doubt the importance of prayer. Let us each be daily filled with God’s Spirit and yield to the Spirit’s promptings to pray. The following chapters will present vital aspects of prayer that are necessary for every Christian to understand and practice in order for God’s work to be finished in this earth. Understanding and practicing them is also necessary for us to be ready for Christ’s return. The teachings on prayer in this book are not an option. They are a necessity for all who want to be ready for Christ’s second coming.
Have you ever wondered what those Christians will be like who go through the time of trouble (tribulation) and are ready to meet Jesus? It is important you find out. Why? Because I am convinced God is calling that very generation today, you and me, to come out of our spiritually weak, Laodicean condition and get ready to meet our Lord.
The purpose of the books I have written, including this one, is to help the reader better understand how they can become just like Jesus and overcome every influence and oppression of Satan; spiritually, emotionally and physically. Understanding and experiencing the baptism of the Holy Spirit is foundational to this process of growing into the fullness of Christ. That is why the theme of Spirit baptism runs through every book.
As I have pointed out in this book, those ready to meet Jesus will have a prayer life that is Spirit led. They will be uniting perseveringly with other believers claiming the promises of God. Fasting will become an integral of their seeking God. Their communion with God will be so close and intimate that they will often hear His “still small voice” and live a life under His constant direction.
Their communion with God will be of supreme importance to them. They will surrender their lives 100% to Him desiring to remove every hindrance that might stand between them and God. When Jesus comes there will be a generation of “Enochs” who have daily and moment-by-moment walked with God. They like Enoch will take that final step when Jesus comes and walk into glory to live with their Lord forever.
Do you want to be a part of that final generation? I believe God is calling that generation into existence now. God wants you to be among them if you are living when Jesus returns. I challenge you after you read this last sentence to close this book, open your heart to God in prayer and commit yourself completely to Him holding nothing back.
Jesus Is Coming - Get Ready!
At the time of the writing of this book, Dennis Smith is serving as pastor in the Southern New England Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Dennis has served the church as an active layman, and in pastoral and departmental positions for over 35 years.
Dennis received a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Colorado State University. While at Colorado State, he became a Seventh-day Adventist Christian. After working in engineering for a short time, he felt the call to full time ministry. To fulfill that calling, Dennis attended Andrews University Theological Seminary and received a Masters of Divinity degree. Dennis has also done studies in the area of public health from Loma Linda University.
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