"Probing into Prayer: In Search of its Essence"
A. Prayer is the key to vitality and fruitfulness.
1. Jesus lived and breathed prayer.
2. Jesus taught His disciples to cultivate a
disciplined prayer life.
3. The New Testament Church was born, sustained, and
enlarged through prayer.
4. The fruitfulness of our lives and ministries
depends on prayer.
B. To have an effective prayer life, we must understand
the essence of prayer.
1. "Essence" refers to the unchanging
nature of a thing.
2. Our mental pictures of prayer highlight changing
forms of prayer.
3. What is the essence of prayer?
a. Premise: Prayer is a dynamic exchange connecting
heaven with earth.
b. Analogy: "The prayers of Godís saints are
the capital stock of heaven by which God carries on His
great work upon earth." (E.M. Bounds)
-- Paul E. Billheimer, Destined for the Throne: How
Spiritual Warfare Prepares the Bride of Christ for Her
Eternal Destiny. Revised Edition. (Minneapolis,
Minnesota: Bethany House Publishers, 1996), p. 51.
c. Definition: "Prayer is the passageway to a
living and working relationship with God by which His
kingdom comes to the earth." (J. Mark Copeland)
C. The essence of prayer suggests four components of
1. Prayer is the passageway to a living relationship
a. COMPONENT ONE: Prayer as comunication
b. COMPONENT TWO: Prayer as communion
2. Prayer is the passageway to a working relationship
a. COMPONENT THREE: Prayer as cooperation
b. COMPONENT FOUR: Prayer as combat
Body of Teaching
I. Prayer as Communication
A. Prayer is "calling out" to God.
1. The first reference to prayer in the Bible
confirms this. (Gen. 4:26b)
2. Psalm 107 is a biblical tribute to prayer as
"crying out" to God.
a. It gives four scenarios of prayer born out of
b. It shows the movement from desperation to
intervention to thanksgiving.
3. In New Covenant praying, deperation evokes faith
for answered prayer.
a. The cry of faith brings Godís saving
intervention. (Joel 2:28-32)
b. The prayer of faith apprehends Godís grace.
(1) The covenant of grace changes our perspective
(2) The covenant of grace changes our view on the
place of prayer. (Heb. 12:18-24; 4:14-16)
4. Illustration: John G. Lakeís tesimony
demonstrates how desperation can become the stepping stone to
-- John G. Lake, Adventures In God (Tulsa, Oklahoma:
Harrison House, 1981), pp. 73-82.
a. His family was under strong attack through a
cycle of terminal illnesses.
b. He learned of Godís healing covenant and
c. He learned to turn desperation into confident
faith in God.
d. He saw family members healed and even raised
from the dead.
e. He was thrust into a phenomenal healing
B. Prayer is dialogue with God.
1. People heard from God in the Old Testament.
a. God spoke to Moses face to face. (Exod. 33:10)
b. The word of the Lord "came unto" the
c. False prophets spoke without first hearing. (Jer.
2. People heard from God in the New Testament.
a. Jesus said His sheep know his voice. (Jn.
b. Paul said the Spirit of God reveals the thoughts
of God. (1 Cor. 2:12b)
c. Believers heard from God in the book of Acts,
e.g., Peter, Philip, Paul, the prophets and teachers in
3. We can and should hear from God today.
a. We should learn to recognize the ways in which
b. We should make room for God to speak.
4. Illustration: I had a personal experience in
prayer in which God dialogued with me about my prayer seminar.
a. He initiated the dialogue.
b. He spoke specific geographic regions and place
c. He confirmed his direction through subsequent
II. Prayer as Communion
A. Prayer moves from dialogue to intimacy.
1. Per the Psalmist: "Deep calls to deep in the
roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have
swept over me." (Psa. 42.7)
2. Per Jesus: "Whoever believes in me, as the
Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from
within him." (Jn. 4:37b-38)
3. In the divine intercourse with the human spirit,
there is passion, ecstacy, and overflow.
B. Prayer as communion is prayer as worship.
1. Worship is the spirit of prayer. (Mt. 6:9, 13b)
2. Worship is an expression of prayer. (1 Tim. 2:8)
C. Prayer is empowered by the fullness of the Holy
1. The Spirit prompts prayer. (Zech. 12:10-13:2: Rom.
2. Prayer invites the fulness of the Spirit. (Acts 2,
3. Prayer in the Spirit enables intimate communion
with God. (Jude 20; Eph. 5:18)
D. Illustration: My experience of the Baptism in the
Holy Spirit was an intimate and powerful encounter with God.
1. I was filled with the Holy Spirit during a
corporate time of prayer.
2. I was catapulted by the Holy Spirit into a
worshipful encounter with God.
3. My encounter led others to the fulness of the
III. Prayer as Cooperation
A. Prayer brings us into a working relationship with
1. Jesusí prayer life enabled Him to co-labor with
His Father. (Jn. 7:16; 10:32; 14:10)
2. Our prayer lives position us as co-laborers with
3. We co-labor with Christ through prayers of
petition and prayers of intercession.
B. Prayers of petition are a means of partnering
1. We ascertain what God wants us to do.
(Hearing/seeing; Jam. 1:5; 1 Cor. 2:12)
2. We ask God to do the thing He reveals.
(Petitioning; 1 Jn. 5:14-15; Jn. 14:13)
3. We allow His Spirit to accomplish His work.
(Releasing; Jn. 1:14; Mk. 16:20)
4. NOTE: Revelation is the foundation of effective
a. This is demonstrated with the analogy of the
keys of the kingdom.
(1) Revelation preceded the keys being given to
Peter. (Mt. 16:16-19)
(2) The keys were given to the disciples in
conjunction with spiritual authority in prayer. (Mt.
b. We can have and use the keys of the kingdom.
(1) The keys enable us to know the will of God:
The revelation gifts
(2) The keys enable us to speak the words of God:
The utterance gifts.
(3) The keys enable us to release the work of
God: The power gifts.
5. Illustration: I experienced prayer as partnership
with God and with his people in the healing of Louise Baker.
a. There was a divine invitation to cooperate with
b. There was an opportunity to partner with the
people of God.
c. There was the privilege of releasing Godís
Spirit to accomplish His work.
C. Prayers of intercession are a means of
partnering with God.
1. Prayers of intercession are prayers of mediation.
a. To intercede is to act as a mediator between God
(1) Merriam Websterís Collegiate Dictionary
(Tenth Edition) defines intercede as "to
intervene between parties with a view to reconciling
(2) Merriamís defines intercession as
"prayer, petition, or entreaty in favor
of another." (my italics)
b. Jesus is our mediator and intercessor. (1 Jn.
2:2; 1 Tim. 2:5; Rom. 8:34)
c. We are called as mediators and intercessors. (1
Pet. 2:9; 2 Cor. 5:20;1 Tim. 2:1-5)
2. Intercession appeals to God for a two-fold work of
a. This two-fold work of grace is described in a
classic passage on intercession in Ezekiel. (22:30-31)
(1) Intercessors "build the wall" for
protection against the enemy.
(2) Intercessors "stand in the gap" to
reconcile people with God.
b. This two-fold work of grace is characteristic of
New Testament intercession.
(1) There are prayers for "building the
wall." (Jn. 17: 15; Lk. 22:31-32; 1 Cor. 1:8; Jude
(2) There are prayers for "standing in the
gap." (Rom. 10:1; Eph. 1:17- 19a)
3. Illustration: Bolette Hinderliís intercession
for Lars Olsen Skrefsrud demonstrates intercession as building
the wall and standing in the gap for another.
a. She was a simple country girl with a prayer
assignment from God.
b. She received a clear vision and a direct word
c. Her prayer assignment had elements of protection
d. Her faithfulness in prayer led to Mr. Skrefsrudís
fulfilling Godís call on his life.
IV. Prayer as Combat
A. Effective prayer is always warfare prayer.
1. This is evident from the very nature of prayer.
2. This is evident from the central petition of the
B. Warfare prayer is upward and outward praying,
addressing both God and Satan.
1. It is upward prayer that talks to God.
a. God is pleased to give us His kingdom. (Lk.
b. We graciously receive the kingdom with
2. It is outward prayer that addresses the Enemy.
a. The Enemy seeks to prevent our receiving the
b. We forcefully lay hold of Godís kingdom. (Mt.
c. With a word of rebuke, we violently rend Godís
kingdom from the obstructing clutches of Satan.
C. Warfare prayer engages the Enemy on two plains.
1. We do battle with demons that operate in the
a. We engage spiritual forces of evil in the
heavenly realms. (Eph. 6:12b)
b. This is modeled in Danielís
intercessor/warfare praying. (Dan 9-10)
2. We do battle with demons that bind people on the
a. We engage the "powers of this dark
world." (Eph. 6:12b)
b. These spirits darken peopleís minds to Godís
revelation. (2 Cor. 4:4)
D. Illustration: Morris Cerulloís power encounter
with Haitian witch doctors demonstrates prayer as combat.
-- C. Peter Wagner, Praying With Power: How to Pray
Effectively and Hear Clearly From God (Ventura, California:
Regal Books, 1997), pp. 50-53.
1. He received an invitation but encountered stong
2. A voodoo curse brought sudden strong physical pain
in his abdomen.
3. He was enlightened by God as to the cause and
instructed how to respond.
4. He fearlessly stood his ground when a power
encounter was being staged.
5. He overcame resistence by speaking and releasing
A. Prayer is a living and working relationship with
B. Prayer brings us into a living relationship with God
in which we communicate with Him in dialogue and commune with
him through intimate, joyous worship.
C. Prayer brings us into a working relationship with
God in which we cooperate with Him in the establishment of His
kingdom and in the combat by which Satanís kingdom is
D. Prayer is being and doing, relating and serving.