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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Dr. Tony Evans » Tony Evans - The Kingdom Power of Prayer

Tony Evans - The Kingdom Power of Prayer

Tony Evans - The Kingdom Power of Prayer
TOPICS: Prayer, Kingdom of God

God has a conditional will and an unconditional will. God's will is what he determines to happen, but it can happen in one of two ways. It can happen unconditionally or conditionally. God's unconditional will is when he determines what will happen irrespective of what anybody else does. That is, it's not conditioned on us or anybody else 'cause he's going to decide that it happens and he's going to cause it to happen without any human involvement. That is his unconditional will. It's not conditioned on our actions or non-actions because he sovereignly decided to make it come to pass all by himself. That is his unconditional will, but God's conditional will is different. There are many things he's decided to not let happen until he gets cooperation from earth. There are many things that he's decided he will not bring from heaven into history unless there is human cooperation with his desire and design.

One of the primary mechanisms that God has established to determine much of what he does on earth, and in your life, and in my life is conditioned by the absence or presence of prayer. James says in chapter 4, verses 1 to 3, "You have not because you ask not, or when you ask you ask with wrong motives". He says, "I wanted to give it to you, but you never came to me for it. So you don't have it. It wasn't because I didn't want to give it. It was because you didn't cooperate with getting it because it was part of my conditional will". Prayer is relational communication with God, and the goal of prayer is to draw from heaven into history. The goal of prayer is to get eternity to make a statement in time. It is to make heaven visible on earth. It is to get God to touch humanity. The goal of prayer is that up there might do something, fix something, or change something down here.

Now, the problem is, you don't always know what's conditional or what's unconditional. Some things are clear, but other things you're not sure. That's why Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, "You better pray without ceasing. You better bring it all to God so you'll miss nothing because all the time it's not clear which way God is operating from". Without prayer you become limited to the physical, but the only reason you pray is to get the spiritual God to enter into the physical. The passport to leave the physical and into the spiritual is in one word in Scripture, and that word is prayer.

Now, let me explain. Prayer does not get God to do something he doesn't want to do 'cause you can't make God do something, but what prayer does is access what he already wants to do that he has conditioned on your participation and mine. I love Isaiah 65, verse 24. Isaiah 65:24 says, "Before you call, I have answered". Oh, did you follow that? "Before you prayed, I have already answered the prayer". This concept of prayer is distributing eternity into time. You remember when the disciples were asked by Jesus, "How are we going to feed 5.000 men, not counting women and children, 15.000 to 20.000 people"? And they said, "We don't know". But they found a little boy with two fish, five barley loaves of bread. They brought him to Jesus 'cause there's a problem. "How are we going to feed all these people"?

The Bible says Jesus looked up to heaven and he prayed and he invited God into the problem. And all men did was distribute what the supernatural had provided. So help me out. If Jesus had to pray to get his heavenly Father to do something up there to change something down here, how much do you and I need to pray to get God to do something up there that we need him to do down here? Verse 13, "Is any one among you suffering"? Suffering meant to be going through a difficult period of time. Suffering means you are hurting. Something is hurting you. It could be physical hurt, financial hurt, circumstantial hurt, relational hurt. All you know is you're in pain. You are suffering. James says, "If you are hurting because of circumstances, you must pray".

Now, a praise is a expression of value to the Lord. It is honoring the Lord physically and verbally. There's no such thing as silent praise. You can have silent worship, but you can't have silent praise. Praise is always visual and vocal. That's why he says, "Sing praises to the Lord". Wait a minute. Let's rewind. If you're in pain, pray. If you're not in pain, you're not sad, but you're glad, praise. Well, hold it. You're either one or the other. You're either in pain or you're cheerful. If you're in pain, talk to God, if you're not in pain, praise God, which means that you're always communicating with God 'cause you're either in pain or in praise. So God wants to hear from you all day nonstop. As a way of life, he wants you to thread him into every aspect of your day either in prayer or in praise 'cause you're either in pain or you're in praise. Verse 14, "Is any one among you sick"?

Now, the Greek word for sick means to be weary. It's what the word means. It means to be weary. What happens when you get weary no matter what's caused the weariness? "Then let him call on the elders of the church, and they are to pray over him". Ah, in verse 13, you are praying for you. "Anyone suffering, let him pray". But in verse 14, you need help because your prayers are not getting through. In fact, you don't even feel like praying anymore. When life beats you down long enough, deep enough, you can get tired of dealing with God. So he says, "Go to the elders of the church". That should represent the spiritual leadership of the church to get support for a breakthrough you have not been able to get on your own. That's why you're to be a part of a local church, so that when you can't go on somebody else can keep you going on. You're not to be a lone ranger Christian.

Reminds me of the story in Mark chapter 2, verses 1 to 12. You got a lame man, a paralyzed man. He can't get up. He can't get up. He'd been laying there long time, and he can't get up, but he had four boys. He had four posse, four his homies. They came, and it says, and they picked him up and took him to the house where Jesus was. Says they cut a hole in the roof and let him down in front of Jesus, and then it says, "When Jesus saw their faith," not the man's faith who was laying down, when he saw his homies' faith, when he saw the four brothers who picked him up, when he saw their faith, "he healed the man". But God does not want you to deal with your weariness alone. Says, "Let them pray". He goes on and he says, "And then let them anoint him with oil". Verse 15, "And the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick".

The prayer offered in faith, here's the word, I love this word, we need this word, restores. Restores. To restore something is to bring it back to its original intent. When something breaks, you restore it. You try to bring it back to its original intent. God is a restoring God in the wearinesses of life. He makes an astounding promise. He says, "God will restore". Now, let me clarify. We know that everybody who gets physically sick don't always get well, or they may get partially well, or they may be just a little better. We know that perfect health is not always restored in every situation. We know it is sometimes, but it's not all the time. Yes, sometimes God takes you out, but other times he walks with you through, other times he walks beside you. He restores you emotionally even though you're waiting for him to restore you circumstantially or physically. Sometimes he does both. But the restore here is to remove the weariness while you still trust him for the solution. He says, "The prayer of faith will heal the sick, it will remove the weariness, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins," because maybe he didn't, but if he has, "they will be forgiven him".

Why do we pray for one another? That our circumstances change and if necessary that sin get addressed because sin can keep you sick. All sickness is not due to sin, but sickness can be caused by sin. 1 Corinthians 11 makes it clear. "Many are sick; many are weak among you," why, "because of unaddressed sin. Therefore confess your sins to one another". He says in verse 16, "Acknowledge the sin that's created the weariness for which you need to repent". He says, "Confess to one another," and then he says, "and pray for one another". So you only confess to somebody who's going to pray for you not talk about you. So the confessed to is the prayed for. He says that you might be healed, that you may be delivered. Now, he makes a summary statement. Stay with me here in verse 16. "The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much".

The effective, the word there means energize. Remember the Energizer Bunny? The energized prayer. An energized prayer is a focused prayer. It is a prayer that is God centered. "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man," he says, "can accomplish much". And then he gives an illustration. So stick with me 'cause this is a doozy. He says in verse 17 and 18, "Elijah was a man with a nature like ours. However, this ordinary man who was a prophet," it says, "he prayed," notice the word, "earnestly". He wasn't being casual. "He prayed earnestly that it would not rain. And it did not rain on the earth for 3 years and 6 months". That's 3 1/2 years. "Then he prayed again," verse 17 says, "and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit". So watch this now. He prayed and he closed heaven down for 3 1/2 years. He's on earth, but he praying to heaven and he shut heaven down when it came to rain. Three and a half years later, he prayed again and he opened heaven up. Heaven didn't just close and open on its own. It says he prayed, and it closed. He prayed, and it opened. Ah.

So let's go back and see what really happened in 1 Kings chapter 18 'cause that's where this event took place. He prays beginning in verse 36, but then he comes to verse 41, "And Elijah said to Ahab, 'Go up, eat and drink, for there is the sound of the roar of a heavy shower.'" He says, "I hear a thunderstorm coming on". Now, let me stop. Stay with me. Why did he pray this? I mean, what made him pray this in the first place? Well, look at chapter 17, verse 1. "Now Elijah the Tishbite who was of the settlers of Gilead said to Ahab, 'As the Lord the God of Israel lives before whom I stand, surely there shall be neither dew nor rain these years except at my word.'" Oh, now read chapter 18, verse 1. "Now it happened after many days that the Word of the Lord came to Elijah in the third year, saying, 'Go show yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the face of the earth.'" Oh. In chapter 17, verse 1, God said, "It's not going to rain". In chapter 18, verse 1, God said, "It is going to rain".

So why do you need to know that? 'Cause Elijah didn't just make this up. He was praying based on what God had said. God said, "It's not going to rain". God said, "It is going to rain". So he prayed, watch this, based on God's Word. So the first thing you need to know is you need to pray with your Bible open. You need to pray, say, "God, you said this. Let me show you in case you forgot. God, you said this, and I'm holding you to your Word. You said this. I believe this. So I'm going to pray this". The Bible is full of prayers that you should pray. When you're struggling, there's Psalm 42. You pray Psalm 42. When you're repenting, there's Psalm 51. You pray Psalm 51. When you are afraid, there's Psalm 34. You pray Psalm 34. You point God back to his Word because God has held his Word high above his name.

So, you start with the Word of God about the situation that you faced. All right, let's go on. He goes on to say, "I hear the sound. There is a storm coming on". Verse 42, "And Ahab went up to eat and drink, but Elijah went up to the top of Mount Carmel and crouched down on the earth". Somebody say, "Crouched down". "Crouched down on the earth and put his face between his knees". Oh, okay. All right. He goes up to Mount Carmel, and it says he crouched down, put his head between his knees. So he took the posture of a pregnant woman who was in labor. The Bible calls it travail. He was in labor, and he said, "I need some rain. I want some rain. I'm going to push and push and push till I get some rain". Oh, you know what God wants you to do? He wants you to birth his will from heaven into history by calling it down, drawing it down, pushing it down until that baby of deliverance, that baby of healing, that baby of victory comes forth.

This is serious praying. This is not casual praying. This is crying out. Why? Why do I have to work so hard? Because Satan is trying to block your prayer from getting through. It says, "He said to his servant, 'Go now, look toward the sea.' So he went and looked and said, 'There is nothing.' He said, 'Servant, go to the sea and look for the storm.' Servant went out and said, 'Oh, Elijah, there's no storm out here.'" But wait a minute. We just read Elijah heard the sound of a storm, but the servant went out and he didn't see a storm. So he told his servant to go back seven times. He says, "I want you to go back seven times," in verse 43. Why seven? 'Cause seven in the Bible is the number of completion. Whenever you see the word seven, it means something has been brought to completion. Sometimes people say, "How long should I pray for something? How long should I talk to God? I've been praying about this for years and nothing has happened. How long should I pray"?

Well, let me explain something. God only has three answers. Yes, no, or wait. If he hadn't said yes and he hadn't said no, that means wait. So what you do while you wait? You pray till you get a yes or a no. You pray to completion. When he went out the seventh time, he said, "I saw a cloud coming out of the sea like the size of a man's fist". You know how small a cloud that is? He said, "I just saw a little cloud. I don't see a storm. I just see a little fist-sized cloud". Elijah said, he said after the seventh time and he saw the cloud, "Ahab, prepare your chariot," verse 44, "and go down so the heavy shower does not stop you". He didn't let him see a shower. He let him see a cloud.

See, sometime when God's ready to move, he ain't going to let you see the whole thing. He just let you see a little something, something, to give you a taste. That's why the Bible says, "Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good". He may not give you the whole meal. He may just give you a sample plate. That means that the meal, sometimes God gives you an appetizer. He ain't ready to feed you the whole meal. He's just giving you a something, something, so that you know what you have to look forward to. So he says, "We only got a fist, but there's a shower". So watch this now. He tells Ahab, "Get in your chariot and go 'cause this storm is going to get ready to break out. So get in your chariot and go". That means a horse is pulling the chariot.

So he gets in a horse. He's got to go 15 miles from where he is to Jezreel. So Ahab gets in there, and he's riding his horse. But I don't want you to miss the end of verse 46. "Then the hand of the Lord was on Elijah, and he girded up his loins and outran Ahab to Jezreel". No, you didn't. Ahab is on a horse. Ahab is riding a horse. Oh, Elijah picks up his cloak, ties it up, and he hops it, he hops it, and he outruns a horse to Jezreel. I believe Isaiah put it this way: "They that wait upon the Lord will have new strength. They will mount up with wings like eagles. They will run and not get weary. They will walk and not faint". Somebody here ought to be willing to pray. Somebody here ought to be willing to cry out to God. Somebody ought to be willing to touch heaven because the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

Prayer is a kingdom issue. It is the point of access that God has given all of the kingdom citizens to have kingdom influence in the kingdom that we are a part of. When a person gets saved, God transfers them out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light, that is, in the domain of the rule of God. And in that domain, we have access to God's influence in our lives in our day-to-day living, and we can see heaven invade history because we're part of a kingdom that has invaded history. You know the Lord's Prayer; thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. That was Jesus's prayer, but he was teaching us how to pray. And what he was saying is, "I want you to bring up there down here so that the power from up there, the privileges from up there, the influence from up there, the opportunities from up there can be relocated down here where we live and work and play and raise families".

We operate in the kingdom of darkness, but our citizenship is in the kingdom of light. What the enemy wants us to do is think that the physical world is the ultimate reality. He wants to juke us, fake us so that we don't use kingdom power, we live on human power or what the Bible calls human wisdom. We live on man's approach and man's perspective rather than divine approach and God's perspective. If you will now, if I will now, if we collectively will now think heavenly while we work and walk on earth, we will see infused in us kingdom authority through kingdom prayer to have a kingdom influence so that there is a kingdom impact. Why? Because God's goal is to advance his kingdom. If you know Jesus Christ, you're a citizen of that kingdom. So the citizenry has been given the opportunity to approach the throne. Don't delay. Go to the throne right now. Make your request known so that the kingdom can come to your defense.
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