Our precious Bible is filled with events and stories of great men of God who have seen His signs and wonders in their lives, and have experienced His liberating power and miracles of deliverance for them. The Bible also mentions how God was able to do great things using simple, weak people, not for any merit of their own, but just because they had true fellowship with Him, and had been living lives of faith.
And the Bible tells us that our God has not changed with time, and He never will, as the writer said in Hebrews: "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever." (Heb. 13:8). For this, the Bible not only tells us that all what was written in the word was written to teach and encourage us, but also that we might live in the great experiences of faith, and see our mighty God do for us what He did in the past, and even more.
And among the precious lessons that the word of God teaches us as a key to a life of power and glory, of experiencing the miracles of God in life, is prayer. The apostle James wrote assuring and encouraging us that: "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much," or according to another translation: "The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working]" (James 5:16, Amp.). He then went on, explaining how as Elijah prayed in the past as the Spirit of God directed him, and the heavens were shut for three years and six months, and prayed again in God's timing for the heavens to open and give rain, and heavy rain came, we too are invited today to experience the leading of the Holy Spirit and pray effective prayers that bring unusual results. What Elijah did is an example for us to learn from and live like.
In the second chapter of the book of Daniel, we find another Bible story that talks of the power and effectiveness of prayer. Daniel and his friends were in danger, so were all of Babylon's wise men, for king Nebuchadnezzar had had a dream and wanted them to tell him his dream as well as its interpretation. This was not easy, in fact it was impossible, that the wise men answered the king saying: "It is a rare thing that the king requires, and there is none other that can show it before the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with the flesh." (Dan. 2:11). But the king insisted on his request and ordered the execution of all the wise men, including Daniel and his friends.
What happened then? Daniel heard of the matter. Daniel was a man of faith, having strong fellowship and trust in his mighty God. He knew that his God does wonders, and that nothing is too difficult for him. He also knew that it was not God's will for him and his friends to die, and that God was able to intervene and save him. And because he had great faith, he went forth to the king and asked for time to find the answer to his request, to tell him what his dream was and its interpretation. And what did he do next? He gathered with his friends for prayer, lifting up fervent, heart-felt prayers, trusting in their God's love, and that he will neither leave them nor forsake them. And heaven answered, and God stretched forth His hand, which is filled with blessings for his children, and the secret was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. Daniel then began praising the Lord. I would like to repeat for you this great verse that he said in his praise and thanksgiving: "He changes the times and the seasons: He removes kings and sets up kings." (Dan. 2:21).
Yes, this is our wonderful and almighty God... A God who hears and answers prayer… A God who is close to his children, and closes not His bosom from them… A God who changes the times and the seasons… A God who changes history in response to the prayers of his people and his church.
This is the important truth to which I'm inviting you, which the Bible reveals to us. The secret was not in Daniel's prayers, but in Daniel's God, who is your God today, and who awaits your prayers too. So trust Him and put your faith in Him that the windows of heaven might be opened and that His mighty, miracle-working hand might be moved.
Our God is pleased with working signs and wonders, for in psalm 104, one of the psalms that talk about God's great works, it is written: "O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all: The earth is full of your riches." (Ps. 104:24). But he then adds: "The Lord shall rejoice in his works." (v.31). Our God works wonders and fills our life with His riches and love, and he is well pleased with doing that. He has pleasure in the prosperity (success, healing) of His servant. (Ps. 35: 27). So, learn that our God rejoices and is glad whenever He works mightily with signs and wonders in the lives of His children.
Here is another example of a woman, who was considered in the days of Jesus as unclean and like dogs, because she wasn't among God's people but was among the gentiles, who were far away from the Lord, indulged in their pagan worship, without a relationship with God. This woman had a mad daughter due to demonic possession. Imagine the suffering of this mother and when she heard about Jesus, she came running to Him and cried: "Have mercy on me, O Lord, son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil." (Matt. 15:22). That was a real prayer, a cry from a heart that was suffering, but also a cry of faith, and a confession that Jesus was the son of David, that is, the King and Messiah, who will save, heal and deliver. Hence she brought forth her need: "My daughter is grievously vexed."
The Lord Jesus still wants us to resort to Him and tell Him about our needs, and to cry from our hearts, trusting and filled with faith that He is the one who is able to do all things.
What a grace and love of our Lord! Although He waited a little in His answer, to make her faith and trust in Him surface more and more, he accepted her and did not reject her as a stranger or as unclean. Instead, He praised her faith and answered her prayer and said to her: "O woman, great is your faith: be it unto you even as you desire." (Matt. 15:28).
Our God does not answer only certain groups among His people, like those with special spiritual levels. No, He hears the cry of the poor… He hears the groans of the heart… He hears everyone. He does not reject real prayer from a sincere heart… He does not reject the sinner who comes to Him, asking for salvation. He does not reject the sick that are in need of healing… He will not say to you that you don't deserve to receive, or that your state does not suit Him. He came to seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away.
The Lord invites us to a life filled with powerful and effective prayers. He says: "Ask and it shall be given unto you; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you." (Lk11:9). So let us respond to His invitation and ask so we will be given, seek so we shall find, knock at the doors of heaven and they shall be opened for us and his blessings will flow out. He wants us to work with him in changing history through strong prayers of faith, as we pray to Him: "Thy kingdom come… Thy will be done." Yes, Father, may your will be done, and also your purposes in our spiritual and personal lives, as well as in our meetings, churches and countries.
We are invited to pray for our personal needs and see God change our personalities, our homes, our jobs and our relationships, to find help in our time of need, to experience protection and healing, and in the midst of devastation, see his hand stretched forth to rebuild everything all over again.
We are also invited to join together in prayer for the Lord's work and the furthering of the kingdom of God. Prayer can work the impossible. It is the true way to revival. It sets the heart of the one who is praying on fire, but so does it do to the one prayed for. It sets lukewarm meetings ablaze. It fans the flames of revival in cold ministries. It opens the hearts to receive the Savior and opens the door to the wonderful works of God. It is the key to the mighty outpouring of the Spirit of God to convict sinners and lead them to real salvation, and confirm the work with His signs and wonders and gifts. We need to believe in the God who changes the times and the seasons and history in response to our prayers. Revivals that sprang out in the past were a result of prayers of individuals who were burdened with this vision, and who believed that their God will answer. And the spiritual rains came and the fire fell.
For this, we need to turn a new page in our prayer lives and surrender to the Spirit of the Lord for Him to set us on fire and teach us how to pray effective and fervent prayer, and not just lukewarm prayers or ones with an outward and traditional form, or memorized words. Instead, He will lead us in heart-felt prayers, like the one of this mother for her daughter, prayers filled with groanings of the Holy Spirit, cries of a heart that is filled with great faith in an almighty God, so that His Spirit might free us from surrendering to the status quo. Let us be like Daniel, knowing our wonder-working God.
Believe with me now that your God is almighty, that He answers prayer and that He is calling you to trust that your prayers can do the impossible, and when you pray, you will see God's hand perform wonders. Amen.