The Power of Faith and Prayer
Why have so many Christians lost their power, or never had any?
Why do so few Christian ministers show any evidence of dynamic
spiritual power? In an age preoccupied with physical power,
nuclear power, and destructive power -- why is there so little
William F. Dankenbring
It has been said that in the hands of men, "Power corrupts; and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Sadly, this ancient axiom is all too true. Why is this so? The prophet Jeremiah gave us a clear insight into the answer: "The heart is deceitful above all things," he wrote, "and desperately wicked: who can know it?" (Jer.17:9).
The apostle Paul also showed a prime reason why there is so little spiritual, godly POWER on earth today. He wrote, "Because the carnal mind is ENMITY AGAINST GOD: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be" (Rom.8:7).
Mankind's wicked heart and carnal mind -- these two things separate us from contact with God, and therefore also separate mankind from the ability to USE the awesome power of God for healing, for miracles, for incredible answers to fervent prayer!
Yet, despite this fundamental reality, Jesus Christ prophesied, when instructing His disciples, "Verily, verily (or, most assuredly), I say unto you, He that BELIEVETH ON ME, the works that I do (including performing miracles, and great healings!) SHALL HE DO ALSO; and GREATER WORKS THAN THESE shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask IN MY NAME (there is awesome POWER in the name of Jesus Christ, when used rightly), that will I DO, that the Father may be glorified in the Son" (John -13).
Jesus went on, "If ye shall ask ANYTHING in my name, I will DO IT!" (verse 14).
In the tumultuous days of the early Church, the power of God was evident in the lives of the apostles. "And by the hands of the apostles were many SIGNS AND WONDERS WROUGHT among the people . . . Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the SHADOW OF PETER passing by might overshadow some of them.
"There came also a multitude
out of the cities round about unto
There was awesome spiritual POWER
present in the early
There is a CAUSE for every EFFECT!
Of the early apostles, we read, "And with GREAT POWER gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and GREAT GRACE was upon them all" (Acts ).
One reason the Worldwide Church of God, and Church of God International, and other Churches, are lacking in the POWER of God is revealed in Revelation, chapter 3, where God describes the "end-time" Church of God, the Church which would exist just prior to the Second Coming of Christ, and which would include the VAST, OVERWHELMING MAJORITY of Christians in the "last days."
Notice what Jesus said:
"And unto the angel of the Church of the Laodiceans write: These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I KNOW THY WORKS, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then BECAUSE THOU ART LUKEWARM, and neither cold nor hot, I WILL SPUE THEE OUT OF MY MOUTH" (Rev.3:14-16).
Notice! How can a Church which is predominantly LUKEWARM expect to exert or manifest any spiritual POWER? How can a Church which is in dire danger of being EJECTED like spit from the mouth of Christ possess any spiritual POWER WITH GOD? Impossible!
How can a Church which rejects new truth, and compromises and waters down old truth, and begins to consort and fornicate spiritually with the WORLD, by embracing the world's "solutions" to problems, including "life insurance" instead of FAITH IN GOD, and all the "Procedures of medical science," so-called, instead of the HEALING POWER OF ALMIGHTY GOD -- HOW CAN SUCH A WEAK, INSIPID, LUKEWARM, TEPID, TASTELESS CHURCH PERFORM MIRACLES, AND RECEIVE THE POWER OF THE SPIRIT OF GOD?
Rather, such a Church, and its membership, are polluted and besmirched with sin, lawlessness, and perversion of truth and blighted with spiritual and physical disease. Rather than drawing near to God in all humility and fear, and receiving of His all-powerful Holy Spirit, they are CONTAMINATED WITH SIN. Instead of being FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT (Eph.5:18), they are GRIEVING the Spirit of God (Eph.4:30). Rather than putting "on" Jesus Christ, as a garment, they are putting Him off, shoving Him away from their lives (Rom.13:14). Instead of the Spirit of God bubbling up in their hearts, like a fountain of fresh water, they are drying up spiritually, like a parched, seared, scorched desert. Rather than STIRRING UP the flame of God's Spirit (II Tim.1:6-7), they are in the process of QUENCHING the Spirit of God (II Thess.5:19).
Instead of burning brightly with the oil of God's Spirit, they are sputtering and flickering and in danger of their light going OUT (Matt.25:8).
Jesus says of such compromise artists, who are NOT filled with the ZEAL of the Lord of Hosts (Psa.69:9), like Jesus Christ Himself, "Because THOU SAYEST (they have a big mouth, and are proud spiritually), 'I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of NOTHING' (they are spiritually self-sufficient in their own eyes); and KNOWEST NOT that thou art WRETCHED, and MISERABLE, and POOR, and BLIND, and NAKED" (Rev.3:17).
For over a year and a half, now, I have been crying out to the leaders, and members of the Worldwide Church of God, and others, to REPENT! To change their ways, to SHAPE UP, to flee from their sins, and to RETURN TO ALMIGHTY GOD, our Loving Heavenly Father -- but they have refused to listen. They have instead cursed me, called me a false prophet, and cast me out of their fellowship! But since they are no longer fellowshipping with God, I don't miss their fellowship at all. But I long for them to repent, and change their ways, before it is too late.
Jesus says to them, "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: BE ZEALOUS THEREFORE, and REPENT!" (Pev.3:19).
Will YOU repent? Will YOU draw near to God, and forsake every evil path?
Will YOU turn to God with renewed ZEAL, literally "on fire" for God and His Truth, unwilling to compromise with it in even the slightest iota of a degree?
prayers of thousands in the
As Jesus Himself said, the prayers of the Pharisees, for all their show, are meaningless and irrelevant -- exercises in futility -- displays of pure folly. Notice',
"And he spake this parable unto certain which TRUSTED IN THEMSELVES that they were righteous, and despised others" (Luke 18:9). This is the common attitude of a Pharisaical minister, or Church member!
"Two men went up unto the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus (notice! He didn't even get down on his knees; obviously he didn't spend very much time humbling himself before the Throne of God) WITH HIMSELF (he wasn't really speaking to God, but to himself'. This so-called prayer was a .. monologue" which was a one-way conversation with himself, even though he may have THOUGHT, in his own mind, that God would surely be listening to such a devout, holy one as "he"), 'God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.'
"And the publican, standing afar off (with a humble attitude, self-effacing, not presumptuous at all), would not lift so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, 'God be merciful to me a sinner.'
"I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be ABASED; and he that HUMBLETH himself shall be exalted" (Luke -14).
What does Jesus Christ say, first, to these end-time Christians who have lost their first love, their earnest zeal, and much spiritual truth?
He tells them to BE ZEALOUS, and to REPENT! These two prerequisites are the key elements that we all need in order to recapture the POWER of God's Holy Spirit which was poured out upon the New Testament Church of God, and the apostles of olden times!
To have our prayers answered, WITH POWER, with dynamic and direct intervention of Almighty God, we must rekindle the Spirit of God and become renewed in WHITE-HOT SIZZLING ZEAL AND SPIRITUAL ENERGY of God!
Notice two things. The apostle James wrote, "The effectual FERVENT prayer of a righteous man availeth MUCH" (Jas.5:16). It has a "POWERFUL EFFECT," according to the Good News Bible. The Living Bible says, "The EARNEST prayer of a righteous man has GREAT POWER AND WONDERFUL RESULTS."
The Phillips Translation says, "TREMENDOUS POWER IS MADE AVAILABLE through a good man's earnest prayer."
James Moffatt translated, "The prayers of the righteous have a POWERFUL EFFECT." Says the Amplified Bible, "The earnest (heart-felt, continued) prayer of a righteous man MAKES TREMENDOUS POWER AVAILABLE -- DYNAMIC IN ITS WORKING."
James goes on to cite the example of the prophet Elijah -- a praying man, who spent much time communing with God in prayer. James wrote, "Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are (he was human, and had weaknesses just as we do), and HE PRAYED EARNESTLY that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit" (Jas.5:17-18).
How much zeal do you have in your prayers? Do you raise your arms and hands toward heaven, sometimes, and your arms tremble and shake with the intensity and exertion of your emotion and prayer?
Jesus Christ was filled with the ZEAL of God, and His Spirit. This is one reason He could do the amazing miracles which documented His Messiahship! Prophesying of Christ, David wrote, "FOR THE ZEAL OF THINE HOUSE HATH EATEN ME UP (CONSUMED ME); and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me" (Psalm 69:9).
Yes, if you begin to manifest ZEAL for God, as Jesus did, then men and ministers will begin to reproach you, too. They cannot stand a white-hot, fervent servant of God. "Take it easy," they will tell you; "Calm down. Go with the flow. Don't get all upset because the Church won't admit error when you show it to them. Just forget it. Leave it to God. Let Him correct them. It's none of your business." And so they remain in their rut, their nose to the dirt, and cannot see the forest for the trees. Truly, as Jesus said, they are BLIND spiritually!
One reason there is such a lack of powerfully answered prayers, today, is the tremendous lack of real spiritual ZEAL! That is why God commands us, through the apostle Paul, "That is why I would remind you to STIR UP -- REKINDLE THE EMBERS, FAN THE FLAME AND KEEP BURNING -- the (gracious) gift of God, (the inner fire) that is in you" (II Tim.1:6, Amplified Bible).
notice the example of fervent zeal of Phinehas, the grandson of Aaron. When Phinehas saw an Israelite leader take a
Moabitish woman into his tent, a woman who worshipped Baal-peor, thus sinning
against the Lord, he went into the tent after them and thrust them both through
with the sword. When he did that, God
stopped the plague which had been smiting
Phinehas did this, God spoke to Moses, saying, "Phinehas, the son of
Eleazar, the son of Aaron, hath turned my wrath away from the children of
In the original Hebrew, the phrase in verse 11 literally says that Phinehas was "ZEALOUS WITH MY ZEAL." That is, he had the very zeal of God!
If we desire to be pleasing in God's sight, and to serve Him, and to have our prayers answered mightily, and POWERFULLY, then we, too, must put on -- as a cloak or garment -- the very ZEAL OF ALMIGHTY GOD! We need to BURN with white-hot fervor for God and sizzle with fervor for His divine Truth!
Are you zealous for the TRUTH of God?
Remember, to have our prayers answered, with powerful divine intervention, and amazing results, we must be righteous in God's sight that is, we must be walking in His commandments and laws and we must also be filled with divine ZEAL. This dynamic zeal is a product of the Spirit of God within us, energizing us, and giving us POWER! To have more of God's Spirit within us, we must spend much time with Him in prayer, and Bible study.
Jesus Himself sometimes spent all night in prayer to God (Luke ). His prayers were fervent, and full of energy and zeal (Luke Z2:44). How earnest are your prayers?
Why Men and Women Lack Faith
primary reason people even in the
real, solid, substantial, rock-hard and unwavering faith in God is simple: Despite appearances, they are not close to God. They don't spend nearly enough time with Him in prayer and Bible study, even praying over the Scriptures while on their knees before God's Throne.
Years ago, in the late 1950's, Lesson Four of the Ambassador Bible Correspondence Course taught students how to study and understand the Bible. It was excellent. But the key thing I remember from the lesson was the instruction and exhortation that to really understand God's Word, we should spend ONE HOUR EACH DAY in prayer, one hour a day in Bible study, and one hour a day in meditation upon the Word of God.
struck me mightily as a teenagers and I began to strive to do it. I found it easy during those high school years
to spend an hour a day studying the Bible; sometimes I spent the entire Sabbath
reading the Bible, and one Sabbath I read the entire book of Psalms (150
chapters), Proverbs (31), Ecclesiastes (12), and Song of Solomon (8). But, although from time to time I did pray an
hour or more at a time, I found this habit difficult to develop. And when I went to
On the other hand, of course, if you are close to God, sometimes even a short prayer of ten seconds can achieve great results. When Jesus' friend Lazarus was dead and buried in the tomb, Jesus lifted up His eyes and prayed, "Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me" (John -42).
And, after having said this short, ten-second prayer, Jesus cried aloud, "LAZARUS, COME FORTH!" (verse 43) -- and the dead man arose from his grave, stood up, and walked out of his tomb (a cave), bound hand and foot with graveclothes!
Talk about POWER with God! Talk about effectual, effective PRAYER! CHRIST HAD IT -- WITH PLENTY TO SPARE!
But why, then, do people today -- including the vast, overwhelming majority of ministers, including those in the Worldwide Church of God -- lack this kind of prayer power, this kind of contact with GOD?
We have already discussed the problem of disobedience. Many are disobeying God's commands, and don't even know it. But their disobedience cuts them off from God, as Isaiah wrote (Isa.59:1-2). God declares, "He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his PRAYER shall be ABOMINATION" (Prov.28:9). Those who forsake the laws of God, and turn away from faith in God, and pervert the truth of God, even their prayers are utter abomination and filth in the sight of God. Consider this, you who insist on observing Pentecost on the wrong day, who replace true faith in God with human "insurance," who do away with the Sabbatical year land rest commandment, who look to medical "science" and human surgeons for "healing" instead of the Divine Healer Himself!
One cannot truly have faith God will answer prayers if he is living in disobedience to the laws of God! The apostle John wrote plainly: "And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, BECAUSE WE KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight" (I John ).
used to wonder why there was not more spiritual POWER in the Worldwide Church
of God. Then, in the 1960's, I began to
discern that many things were not done according to the Word of God, and that
human "politicking" was commonly practiced as a way to "get
ahead" and to be "ordained" to the ministry. God's Word was already being shoved
aside. In the 1970's I perceived the
situation had gotten much worse -- indeed, something very serious was
It was about that time that I ceased working for the Church in the publications field, and began Triumph Publishing Company, publishing exciting books which relate the message and truth of God!
I had often wondered why, when Richard David Armstrong died in 1958, due to massive injuries sustained in a violent automobile accident, and Herbert Armstrong prayed fervently that God would raise him from the dead, why his prayer was not answered. But when I learned of the many sins which had been covered up and hidden, during the 1950's and 1960's, I no longer wondered why many prayers were not answered. The answer seemed all too obvious.
Sin separates from God! God cannot use somebody who is filled with sin and wickedness, who PRACTICES SIN, in his life! As the apostle John wrote, "Whosoever is born (or, begotten) of God doth not commit (practice) sin: for his seed remaineth in him: and he CANNOT (PRACTICE) sin, because he is born (begotten) of God" (I John 3:9). Those who commit sin, transgress the law of God, for sin IS, by definition, the transgression of God's law (I John 3:4). But if we abide in Christ, then we do not practice SIN (verse 6). Those who say they abide in Christ, that is, are Christians (even ministers!), but who practice SIN, have not really seen Christ, neither known Him (I John 3:6).
In fact, John said, one who says he knows God -including ministers! -- but who "keepeth not his commandments, IS A LIAR, and the truth is not in him" (I John 2:4).
It is time we took a new look at what God said in Isaiah. We read: "Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear deaf, that it cannot hear: But YOUR INIQUITIES have separated between you and your God, and YOUR SINS have hid his face from you, that he WILL NOT hear" (Isa.59:1-2).
If we desire to pray with power, and to have our prayers answered, then regardless of our station in life, we must ROOT OUT SIN, uproot it, and cast it out of our lives! Isaiah wrote, again, "Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; BE YE CLEAN, THAT BEAR THE VESSELS OF THE LORD" (Isa. 52: 11).
Unless one is "clean," spiritually, and not hiding sin in his life; unless one is truly striving to obey God, and not compromising with sin; unless one is keeping God's commandments, and NOT LIVING IN ADULTERY -- his prayers are useless, futile, and vain -- an outright unclean thing in themselves -- an abomination!
But even if we obey God, and if we pray fervently, and perseveringly, continuously, that is still not enough to have power with God, and to have prayers answered. Even if we wrestle with God, tenaciously, in prayer, as Jacob wrestled with the One who became Christ all night (Gen.32:26-28), there is still one thing needed before God will hear us.
The apostle Paul put it this way: "But without FAITH it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must BELIEVE that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him" (Heb.11:6).
Can you say, in your heart of hearts, when you pray to God, "I BELIEVE!" "I REALLY BELIEVE!" "YES, FATHER, I B-E-L-I-E-V-E!!!"
When a man brought his son to the disciples for healing, they could not cast the demon out. Then the man implored Jesus Himself, "IF thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us" (Mark ).
Jesus rebuked the man's lack of faith, answering, "(You say to Me), If You can do anything? (Why,) all things can be -- are possible -- to him who believes!" (verse 23, Amplified Bible). Moffatt translates this, "Jesus said to him, "'If you can"! Anything can be done for one who believes."' The Phillips translation has it, "'If you can do anything!' retorted Jesus. 'Everything is possible to the man who believes.'
Let's continue with the Phillips version.
"'I do believe,' the boy's father burst out. 'Help me to believe MORE!'"
Jesus then proceeded to heal the boy. "The spirit gave a loud scream and after a dreadful convulsion left him. The boy lay there like a corpse, so that most of the bystanders said, 'He is dead.'
"But Jesus grasped his hands and lifted him up, and then he stood on his own feet" (Mark -27).
In another place, Jesus asked two blind men, who cried out to Him to have mercy on them, "Believe ye that I am able to do this?" When they answered, "Yea, Lord," He responded by touching their eyes, and said, "According to your faith be it unto you" (Matt.9:29). And their eyes were opened!
How much faith do YOU have?
When a centurion came to Jesus to heal his servant, Jesus replied, "I will come and heal him." But the centurion said that wasn't necessary, and said, "Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed" (Matt.8:5-9).
replied, speaking to all the audience which had gathered, "Verily I say
unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in
Again, I ask -- how much faith do YOU have?
The fact is, it does not require very much. Great miracles can be accomplished with just a "smidgen" of faith -- just an "ounce" of faith will go a long way. In fact the power of faith is far greater than Einstein's famous formula where E = mc squared. There is far more POWER in an ounce of "faith" than in an atomic bomb or hydrogen bomb!
Jesus later said to His disciples, who asked Him why they could not cast out the demon from the man's son, "Because of your UNBELIEF: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed (a very tiny seed, almost microscopic), ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and NOTHING SHALL BE IMPOSSIBLE TO YOU" (Matt.17:20).
Faith to move mountains! How much faith is required to do that? Jesus answered, just faith the size of a tiny seed of mustard! That isn't very much, is it?
In another place, where Jesus cursed a barren, unfruitful fig tree, and a day later the disciples saw it all withered up from the roots, they marveled. Jesus told them, "Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, BELIEVING, YE SHALL RECEIVE" (Matt.21:21-22).
Mark records this incident also, and quotes the words of Jesus as follows: "Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, BUT SHALL BELIEVE that those things which he saith shall come to pass; HE SHALL HAVE WHATSOEVER HE SAITH,
"Therefore I say unto you, What things soever Ye desire, when ye pray, BELIEVE THAT YE RECEIVE THEM, and ye shall have them!" (Mark 11:22-24).
In another example of the power of a little faith, the disciples came to Jesus and asked Him, "Lord, Increase our faith." They, like many of us, desired more faith than they had. Many times, remember, Jesus had rebuked them for their "little faith" (Matt.6:30; 14:31).
Jesus replied to them, "If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you" (Luke 17:16).
When Peter had tried to walk on the water, imitating Christ, and began to sink, Jesus grabbed him by the hand to rescue him, saying, "O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?" (Matt.14:31).
Often we begin to doubt because, like Peter, we are too close to the problem and too far away from God. Unless we are walking with God, and talking with God often, and studying His Word deeply and prayerfully, unless we are filled with the Word of God, we honestly don't know how to exercise faith in a given situation, and often become desperate, like the man with the demon-possessed son. So we pray the prayer of desperation -- crying out to God for mercy, and He hears us, because God is a merciful, compassionate God. He does not want us to suffer, or die, and does not try us beyond our means (I Cor.10:13).
I have heard of many prayers of "desperation" which were prayed in utter sincerity and were heart-felt, and even if faith were lacking, God remembers that we are weak and are made of dust, and he often overlooks our weakness and lack of faith, because of the urgency of the situation. He still rescues us, and heals us, and delivers us from death, even as He did Peter.
In summary, then, the power of our faith is up to us. We determine our faith, and the answers to our prayers. Unless we begin to exercise faith, by using it often, it will remain weak and impotent.
Jesus said, "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you" (Luke 11:9).
You begin by asking, Are you ready to begin?