The Amazing Power of Prayer:
Prayer is Amazing
October 25, 2009
The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor
Montgomery United Methodist Church
They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" Jesus stood still and said, "Call him here." And they called the blind man, saying to him, "Take heart; get up, he is calling you." So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, "What do you want me to do for you?" The blind man said to him, "My teacher, let me see again." Jesus said to him, "Go; your faith has made you well." Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, good morning! Our title and the topic for today is “The Amazing Power of Prayer.” I’d like to begin a series this morning about this topic. I’m very excited about it, and I hope you are, too.
“Prayer is Amazing” is the title of this first installment. I pray that the remarkable power that prayer has might be yours. The poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson, said, “More things are wrought by prayer than this world ever dreams of.” I love that phrase. More things happen in this world, more good and positive things happen, because someone has prayed, than we can ever imagine. Prayer is an awesome and powerful tool, and my hope is that you would make more and more use of it.
I’d like to think about this with you from several angles. First of all, prayer opens a floodgate of good. Second, prayer releases unseen spiritual energies. And third, it’s all for you; it’s all up to you.
So, let’s look at that together. First of all, prayer releases a floodgate of good. Down here on Canal Road in our fair neighborhood, there is a beautiful canal surrounded by trees that are now glowing with the colors of autumn. You can walk along that path and enjoy the beauty of nature. How many of you are familiar with that path? Oh, most of you are! Now, along that path is a floodgate. Probably, it was once part of a lock that raised and lowered the water level. And there’s a great big iron wheel with handles on it. If you turned that wheel, it would release a powerful flow of water from the upper waters to the lower ones.
That’s what prayer is like. Prayer releases a floodgate of good. I invite you to think about that when you go to prayer next time. You are releasing a floodgate of good for yourself and for the people that you’re praying for. Wonderful things happen when we begin to pray.
Bartimaeus knew that. Let’s take a look at what happened in this morning’s gospel story. Jesus was walking through the oasis town of Jericho on His way to Jerusalem. Those were tough days coming for Jesus, but He was on His way there marching with a lot of other pilgrims to the holy city. As He was passing through Jericho, a blind man named Bartimaeus found out that Jesus was coming through. In his blindness, he reached up his hand and said, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Jesus must have heard his voice, and He told those near Him to send for Bartimaeus. And then we read one of the most beautiful phrases in scripture. His friends went to him and said, “Take heart; He’s calling for you.” Isn’t that beautiful? It’s right there in the scripture; you can read it. “Take heart; He’s calling for you. He’s calling your name.”
Bartimaeus was so excited, he jumped up and ran to where he thought Jesus was. He was waving his arms and said, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
What did Jesus say? An unusual thing – He said, “What would you like me to do for you?” Isn’t that odd? Jesus could see that the man was blind, but He wanted the man to say specifically what he was praying for. And Bartimaeus did. He said, “Lord, that I might see!”
And Jesus said, “Go. Your faith has made you well.” Bartimaeus could see! And then, the scripture, says he followed Him. Bartimaeus became a disciple of Jesus Christ.
You see, Bartimaeus’s prayer was a real one, and it unlocked the floodgates of good for him. Now, you might say, “Pastor, I don’t know much about praying and I don’t know how to do it.” Don’t worry about that; neither did Bartimaeus. What he lacked in technique, he made up in volume. He just made his wishes known to the Lord. And so should we. In our prayer, any prayer, the intention of the heart is the prayer. Turn it God-ward, and it becomes a prayer.
One of the most popular books in recent days is The Secret. What’s The Secret about? The secret is a form of prayer. It’s visualizing the good that you want to come or that you’re praying for another and holding it up to the universe, holding it up to God. Prayer unleashes a floodgate of good.
Second, I’d like to invite you to remember that we are dealing with massive spiritual energies, unseen energies that God has given us to control and to release or withhold. I invite you to think of your prayer that way. Prayer is not so much saying to God, “God, please change it.” We all sometimes feel like saying that, and it’s okay to do. But think of your prayer as being the release of that flood of good that God has given you control of the floodgates. Prayer is the opening up of the energy of God.
Now, I’m going to share with you something that absolutely amazed me. Mike Maloney, one of our lay speakers who spoke last week (and he did a great job), shared with me a statement from John Wesley, the founder of the United Methodist Church. He lived about the time of the Revolutionary War over in England. He said this amazing thing to new converts to the faith: “God does nothing but in answer to prayer.” What do you think about that? John Wesley said, “God does nothing but in answer to prayer.” I’ll tell you, it was breath-taking for me.
What if we were to frame our prayers with that in mind? God doesn’t impose His good, but waits for us to be open to His good. Now, there is such a thing as prevenient grace, and there are the blessings that come we know not where from. But what if wonderful good could come to the world if were to just ask for it, if we were just to turn our imaginings God-ward?
Wesley goes on to say, “Even those who have been converted to God without praying for it themselves were not without the prayers of others. Every new victory which a soul gains is the effect of a new prayer.”
The Bible goes on to say that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us in sighs too deep for words, that there are prayers coming within the Spirit of God that open up goodness for us. And may I say, dear friends, may I say, that those who have gone beyond serve in the Kingdom in ways we can only imagine. Could it be that they live in the heavenly places, loving us still, and praying for us? Some of those blessings that we can’t explain, and some of the circumstances that are so amazing—could it be their prayers? I have no doubt. Pray is an amazing thing.
Finally, it’s up to you. You are at the wheel that opens up the floodgate. I say, just do it. Pray. Open up the floodgate of good and let it happen. It’s yours to do. whether you are in such shape that you could run the Iron Man race or whether you are wheelchair bound or hospital-bound, you still have this great power, the power to pray, the power to open up the floodgates of good. Pray not from desperation; pray from inspiration. Don’t pray hard so much; pray easy, and let God’s floodgate of goodness flow to you and through you to those whom you love.
More next week. God loves you. I do, too. Have a blessed week. Amen.
© 2009 Anthony J. Godlefski