Series 55


by Francis Dixon
(Scripture Portion: Job 21:15)

Many unbelievers ask this question, and sadly even Christian people ask it. There are some things that can only bring loss into our lives; we can think of certain habits, such as the use of alcohol or the practice of gambling, which can result in forming wrong habits. But there is one exercise which is always profitable, and that is the exercise of prayer. In the Bible we are commanded to pray (Luke 18:1) and encouraged to pray, and there are hundreds of promises that should inspire us to lay hold of God and bring our requests to Him. We are challenged to pray by the prayer lives of the Lord Jesus, the Apostle Paul and others, and in this study we will notice some of these benefits that we can receive when we pray. Ross Rainey, an American writer, calls them ‘the by-products of prayer’.

1. When we pray our strength is renewed.

Read Isaiah 40:28-31 (KJV) and notice the argument here: God is great and He is our Creator; we are small, weak and frail. When we wait upon God in prayer He exchanges our weakness for His strength. How reasonable and logical this is! But the question is: do you believe this? Rainey, who we referred to earlier, points out that the word ‘wait’ (KJV) can have at least three meanings: first, it means to stop, as a father says to his child, ‘Wait here!’; second, it means to be in an attitude of expectation, as we might go to a railway station to meet a friend; third, the Hebrew word means ‘to bind together by twisting’. If we will pause in the hectic rush of life and wait before God in expectancy, we shall become entwined in His purposes and experience Ephesians 6:10.

2. When we pray our every need is supplied.

Read Matthew 7:7-11. Notice that these verses record something that Jesus said, and says, and can be summed up in the words, “Ask, and it will be given to you.” What is your need? – is it personal, a family or financial need? Does it have to do with property or investments, or some relationship? Read Matthew 7:7-11 again, and see how ready and willing the Lord is to hear and answer your prayer – but before He can answer, you must pray. How foolish we are to live like paupers, with such a promise in our hands! Look up James 4:2.

3. When we pray our inward joy is increased.

Read John 16:23-24. Here are Jesus’ words, and He tells us that when we present our requests to our Heavenly Father, in His Name, we shall receive the answer to our prayers, with the additional benefit of fullness of joy (John 2:7). Do you know this supernatural joy which is unaffected by testing and trials? (1 Peter 1:8; John 15:11). Compare Nehemiah 8:10; Acts 5:41; Psalm 51:12.

4. When we pray our supply of grace is guaranteed.

Read 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. We read of the Apostle Paul’s very trying physical affliction which he describes as “a thorn in my flesh”. Although we are not told what it was he prayed three times that God would remove it; his prayers were urgent and persistent, and God answered his prayer – but not in the way he expected. God said, “My grace is sufficient for you” – after which Paul gave the most wonderful testimony in verses 9-10. This is an example of how God gives His grace – compare Acts 16:25; 2 Corinthians 9:8.

5. When we pray our hearts and minds are fortified.

Read Philippians 4:6-7, and see the promise of peace for heart and mind. The important word ‘and’ at the beginning of verse 7 links the two verses; and while verse 7 tells us of God’s peace, verse 6 speaks of the condition that must be met if we are to experience it. It is that “in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving” we are to make our requests known to Him. If we pray, God says our heart and our mind will be fortified (Isaiah 26:3).

6. When we pray our request for wisdom is answered.

Read James 1:5. What a promise this is! – and is there anything we need more each day than divine wisdom? We have to make decisions relating to our employment, to the matter of engagement or marriage, spending money, buying a house, selling a car… How easy it is to do the wrong thing! But if we come to God in our need and make our requests known to Him, He will give wisdom and will guide and guard us.

7. When we pray our fellowship with God is maintained and deepened.

Read James 4:8. This short sentence means that as we, with all our heart and mind, in humility and in sincerity, approach God to worship Him and make our requests, He actually begins to approach us – we feel His presence near us – see what David said about this (Psalm 73:28). It is amazing to think that we who are so weak, sinful and needy can come near to God, but how much more amazing it is that He, who is so great and loving, wants to come near to us! His is fellowship at the highest level.

We have heard that expression “Prayer changes things” – how true this is! – but have you ever thought that in fact prayer changes the pray-er? When we experience a renewal of strength, provision for our every need, His joy in full measure, His supply of sustaining grace, His peace to fill our hearts and minds, His heavenly wisdom, and the enjoyment of His constant presence, then we realise how beneficial it is to pray.