Thoughts on the Power of Prayer
Tony Cooke

I’ve been reading after a number of people on the topic of prayer lately, and my own heart has been stirred toward prayer as well. A couple of comments by R. A. Torrey (an associate of D. L. Moody) recently caught my attention:
“We need a deep, widespread, general revival in the power of the Holy Spirit. We will either have a general revival or a general dissolution of the church, the home, and the state.”
“It is not necessary that the whole church starts praying to begin with. Great revivals always begin first in the hearts of a few men and women whom God arouses by His Spirit to believe in Him as a living God, as a God who answers prayer, and upon whose heart He lays a burden from which no rest can be found except in unrelenting crying unto God.”

It is easy to look around and see how many are not praying, not fervent in spirit, and not walking in strong commitment toward the things of God. I appreciated Torrey’s reminder that “Great revivals always begin first in the hearts of a few men and women whom God arouses by His Spirit…” Let me encourage you to never get discouraged because of where others are spiritually, but to light your own fire first. Gypsy Smith, the evangelist, was once asked about the secret of revival. He replied, “Go home. Take a piece of chalk. Draw a circle around yourself. Then pray, ‘O Lord, revive everything inside this circle.’”
Of course, we want others to join, and others will. But never allow the prayerlessness of others cause you to be prayerless. Many spiritual leaders have also remarked on the significance and centrality of prayer as God’s work is carried out in the earth. Consider the following statements:
“We cannot all be leaders, but we can all be pleaders; we cannot all be mighty in rhetoric, but we can all be prevalent in prayer.”
– Charles H. Spurgeon
“We are not told that Jesus ever taught His disciples how to preach; but He taught them how to pray.”
– D.L. Moody
“What the church needs today is not machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Spirit can use—men mighty in prayer. The Holy Spirit does not flow through methods, but through men of prayer. And we might add, through women of prayer.”
– E.M. Bounds
“Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work.”
– Oswald Chambers
“The western church has lost the prayer stamina of the mission churches in Asia, Africa, South America, Indonesia, and those of the underground church in many parts of the world. Yes, we are great organizers, but poor pray-ers.”
– Paul E. Billheimer
“When we work, we work; but when we pray, God works.”
– Max Lucado

Did you notice that being a pray-er or “Prayer Warrior” is not specifically listed among the gifts or ministries described in Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, or Ephesians 4? Still, we all affirm that prayer is absolutely vital to the health and welfare of individual believers and the Body of Christ as a whole. Is it possible that Paul would have classified praying under the area of “helps” that he described in 1 Corinthians 12:28 or “serving” as mentioned in Romans 12:7? Prayer certainly helps others, and it is a beautiful way of serving.
It is remarkable how often the New Testament describes the absolute necessity and efficacy of prayer throughout its pages. We often think of the great prayers offered by leaders, especially those prayed by Paul. Those are important, but the following verses highlight when regular, ordinary, day-to-day believers prayed, along with instructions they were given concerning prayer.
Acts 4:24, 31 NLT
“…all the believers lifted their voices together in prayer to God… After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Acts 12:5 NKJV
“Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church.”

Romans 12:12 NLT 
“…keep on praying.”
2 Corinthians 1:11 NLT
“You are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety.”
Ephesians 6:18 NLT
“Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” 
Colossians 4:2-4 NLT
“Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. Pray for us, too, that God will give us many opportunities to speak about his mysterious plan concerning Christ… Pray that I will proclaim this message as clearly as I should.”
1 Thessalonians 5:17 NKJV
“Pray without ceasing.”
2 Thessalonians 3:1-2 NLT
“Finally, dear brothers and sisters, we ask you to pray for us. Pray that the Lord’s message will spread rapidly and be honored wherever it goes, just as when it came to you. Pray, too, that we will be rescued from wicked and evil people, for not everyone is a believer.”
1 Timothy 2:1-2 NKJV
“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.”

1 Timothy 2:8 NLT 
“In every place of worship, I want men to pray with holy hands lifted up to God, free from anger and controversy.”

Hebrews 13:18 NKJV 
“Pray for us…”  
James 5:16 NLT
“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”
This type of praying is for every believer, for every single one of us. When we cooperate with the Holy Spirit in prayer, God works through us and beyond us to make a difference.
How many can testify that they are only alive because someone prayed for them, or have only had fruitfulness and effectiveness in their lives because someone lifted them up and kept them lifted up before the Lord? Paul deeply valued the prayers that believers offered for his safety and the effectiveness of his ministry. Praying reminds us that we are not in this alone, that we have a mighty partner who is omnipotent.
Some of the most effective spiritual leaders throughout history have been both proponents and practitioners of fervent prayer. The story is often told that when Charles Spurgeon welcomed visitors to the massive Metropolitan Church sanctuary, he would often ask them if they wished to see the “boiler room” of the church. They often thought he was referring to an actual furnace room, but when he opened the door, a hundred or more of the church members would be on their knees, crying out to God.
After describing the pressures and responsibilities he faced as a pastor, Spurgeon states, “I make an especially earnest, personal appeal for my own self. I crave, beyond all things, your constant prayers.” As Spurgeon’s success increased, he never forgot his sense of reliance on the spiritual support he received from his congregation. He said, “I have always, with my whole heart, and without any sort of untruthfulness, ascribed all the success I ever had to the prayers of God’s people, and I unfeignedly do the same now.” 
Spurgeon also called upon believers to recognize the pressing need for prayer if the church is to cooperate with God in the fulfilling of his purposes: “How could we look for a Pentecost if we never met with one accord, in one place, to wait upon the Lord? Brethren, we shall never see much change for the better in our churches in general till the prayer-meeting occupies a higher place in the esteem of Christians.”
Similarly, he said:
“But when we have done all that we can, let us pray much more than we ever have done. Oh, for a praying church! I rejoice that ever since I have been with you, the spirit of prayer has never died out amongst us and I earnestly entreat you never to let it do so. May our prayer meetings be sustained in fervor and increased in number! Praying is, after all, the chief matter. Praying is the end of preaching. Preaching has its right use, and must never be neglected, but real heart devotion is worth more than anything else. Prayer is the power which brings God’s blessing down upon all our work.”

“I beg you, day by day, as you walk the streets, to have this petition in your hearts and in your mouths, ‘Cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary. Oh God, bless Your church all over the world—in Europe, in America, in Asia, in Africa, in Australia! Everywhere prosper Your work among the heathen, and in our own highly favored land too, cause your face to shine upon your sanctuary.’ And do not cease to present that prayer until, to the fullest possible extent, it shall be answered. And when will that be? When He comes, for whose coming we look with joyful expectation.”
Let’s not be weary in well-doing. Let’s not go through the motions of faith and church. As Paul encouraged Timothy, “I’m writing to encourage you to fan into flame and rekindle the fire of the spiritual gift God imparted to you…” (2 Timothy 1:6 TPT).