Is There Power In Prayer?

Published: 27th June 2007
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Is There Power In Prayer?

God revealed to me one day that there is no real power in our prayers because real POWER IS ONLY IN HIM.

Now, I'm sure that some of you will look at the first part of that statement and question if it is un-Biblical non-sense. But, I assure you, that it is very Biblically accurate.

But, please - do not take my word for anything. Please examine every scripture that is used in this Bible Study Article and scrutinize every statement to see if it lines up with Biblical truth. This is how God says we should accept any Biblical message that is presented (Acts 17:10-12).

You might have heard the statement many, many times that "there is power in prayer. "

In fact, one of the Pastors at my church often says, "No prayer, no power. Little prayer, little power. Much prayer, much power."

One could think that the opening statement flies in the face of wisdom from James 5:16. Let us look at this verse in the New International Version of the Bible (NIV):

The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. ( James 5:15 NIV)

Now, the New Living Translation (NLT):

The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results. (James 5:16 NLT )

So what does it mean to say that there is no real power in prayer?


Real power (in this instance) is the power to "answer" prayers. This power is not contained in the prayer (in and of itself). Nor is it with the person who is praying.

The power to answer prayers rests solely with God. This might seem very simplistic. However, as you read this Bible Study Article you will hopefully see why this point is very important, and also, how to experience God's power in your life.

There are four main types of power broadly discussed in the New Testament of the Bible. To understand their separate and distinct meanings we used the Strong's Concordance to examine the Greek words that were used in the original writings. (If you do not have access to the Strong's Concordance see our website ( for links to Bible search websites that have many Bible translations (versions), concordances, dictionaries and lexicons which can be very helpful Bible study tools.)

1) kratos (#G2904) which means "mighty, great power, dominion" - This word is used to refer to the power and sovereignty of God.

2) exousia (#G1849) which means "power of authority or position" - This word is used when referring to the authority that God delegated to us (Saved Christians).

3) dynamis (#G1411) which means "strength, power, ability inherent or residing in a thing" - This word refers to strength or power of a person or thing.

4) ischus (#G2479) which means "forcefulness (literally or figuratively)" - This word refers to the exercise of force or how forceful something is.

Now let us look at our main scripture, James 5:16, from the King James Version of the Bible:

The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (James 5:16 KJV)

The word availeth comes from the Greek word ischou (#G2480), which means "to have (or exercise) force." Ischou comes from the fourth power word above, ischus (#G2479) which means "forcefulness."

Ischou (or availeth) is not the power to answer prayers. It means to exert "force" or to "push" to make something happen. If we substitute the meaning of the word "availeth/ischou" into the scripture we get this: The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man "exerts much force." I have heard preached on more than one occasion: PUSH - Pray Until Something Happens. This is what God wants us to do. He wants us to push (through prayer) to make something happen.

God also wants to remind His people that prayer is not a performance or a magical chant that produces results at will. Prayer is a petition to God, a request. Prayer is communication with God and a mighty weapon if employed properly.

God wants us to focus on Him, His power as the creator, provider and sustainer of the universe. He is the center of all things. And remember, our God is a loving God (John 3:16; 1 John 4). He wants to give us the kingdom (Luke 12:32). He wants to answer our prayers. That is why He has given us so many instructions on how to pray - so we can be successful at it.


... the God of Israel is he that giveth strength and power unto his people ... (Psalm 68:35 KJV)

... the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us ... (2 Corinthians 4:7 KJV)

Since all power is from God then all we can do is go to God and ask Him for what we want. That is why prayer is called petitioning. This is also why we should trust and rely on Him.

Some petitioners might think that we are able to determine the answers to our prayers through the nature and extend of our praying. Nothing is further from the truth. Our prayers do not determine the answer. God does. Our prayers only determine the nature and extent of our petition.

After all, if our prayers were powerful in terms of determining the results then what role would God have? Prayers do not bypass God and go directly to answers. Prayers go to God first. God provides the answers. That is the order of things. If we try to put it any other way then we try to take God out of the picture. Without God, no prayers get answered.

Let us not forget that without God we cannot do or have anything:

I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. (John 15:5 KJV)


A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. (John 3:27 KJV)

God wants us to realize that we have to come to the throne of grace ... to find help (Hebrews 4:16).

Someone might be thinking that prayer could be powerful in terms of getting God to do what we want Him to do. Now think about that. Yes, God yielded to Moses' prayer (Deuteronomy 9:16-29) and to Samson's prayer (Judges 16:18-31). And, yes we can petition God for what we want. But, (A) God is not going to give us anything that is not in His will; and (B) none of us has power over God to make Him do anything. God is sovereign. All we can do is ask.

I believe this is the focal point for understanding prayer and understanding the opening statement about where the real power is. Since God is a loving God - and He is sovereign and He has all the power then we should rely on Him - and if we rely on him - we must get good at asking.


To be successful at praying, we must be successful at asking. We are told in James 4 that:

... ye have not, because ye ask not ...

and that:

Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. (James 4:2-3 KJV)

God wants us to learn to ask effectively.


I've heard it taught before that we should pray God's Word and His promises. That is, when we pray, we apply God's promises to what we are praying for. This assumes that our petition lines up with God's Word and His promises.

We should pray according to God's will because if it is in His will, He will do it. If it is not in His will, then He will not do it.

And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. (1 John 5:14-15 KJV)

Praying in God's will was also emphasized when Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. He prayed:

"Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." (Luke 22:42 NIV)

Jesus prayed for what He wanted and then said - yet not my will, but your will be done..." Jesus understood that even though He was God in the flesh, the WILL OF GOD still had to be done.

The best approach to prayer is to get to know God's will by getting to know God and His Word intimately. This can dramatically impact our prayers in two ways: (1) we know what to pray for, and, (2) as we get closer to God, what we want becomes more like what God wants - because we become more like God.

Seriously meditate on the scriptures below:

Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4 NIV)

Jesus taught us that:

Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. (John 16:23 KJV)

The key phrase is "in my name." Remember, God gave Jesus the name that is above every name (Philippians 2:9 NIV). Therefore, what we ask for in Jesus' name must line-up with God's will.


When we ask, God wants us to come to Him fearlessly and confidently and boldly (Hebrews 4:16 AMP). Jesus gave us the example of the man who kept knocking on the door of his friend until he got what he wanted:

"Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.'

"Then the one inside answers, 'Don't bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can't get up and give you anything.'

I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man's boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs. (Luke 11:5-8 NIV)

In the Parable of the Persistent Widow Jesus taught us to be persistent in asking:

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: "In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, 'Grant me justice against my adversary.'

"For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, 'Even though I don't fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won't eventually wear me out with her coming!' "

And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? (Luke 18:1-6 NIV)

The approach to prayer has to be persistency. As Jesus said:

"And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened." (Luke 11:9-10 NLT)

Asking boldly and persistently is very important for successful prayer. This point is also underscored in our main scripture, James 5:16. Let us look at it again:

The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (James 5:16 KJV)

Earlier we saw that the word availeth has to do with the extent to which our prayer pushes or applies force. Now let us examine the words effectual and fervent which deal with how we pray. Those two words come from the original Greek word energeo (#G1754 in the Strong's Concordance) which means "to be active, efficient, at work, be mighty." God wants us to engage in effectual fervent prayer to Him, prayer that is active, at work and mighty. This means serious prayer, not casual prayer - but mighty prayer.

Some of the synonyms listed for the word fervent from The Roget's New Millennium Thesaurus at are ardent, burning, devout, eager, earnest, fiery, glowing, gotta have, gung ho, heartfelt, intense, passionate, serious, sincere, vehement, wholehearted and zealous. Does this describe your prayers?

Gods wants us to pray (or ask) in this manner. If we do, then our prayers will availeth or push for what we ask for.


God told us to come boldly unto the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16). Part of being bold is to believe you will receive what you pray for. This faith can make you very bold in your prayers (respectfully of course).

Jesus taught:

... What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. (Mark 11:24 KJV)

Gods wants us to ask boldly in faith. In fact, God told us that:

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord ... (James 1:5-7 NIV)

If we believe - we receive. But, be careful. Do not take this scripture out of context. Take it in combination with the other scriptures. Your belief has to be in the will of our sovereign all-powerful God. Your asking must be in the will of God. When it is, you can come boldly and in faith.

Sometimes a lack of faith can be a problem. There was an occasion where Jesus rebuked His disciples for being faithless (Matthew 17:17). They were not able to drive a demon out of a boy. Later, Jesus explained how fasting with praying could help to bring down Satan's power:

Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?

And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.

Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting. (Matthew 17:20-21 KJV)

Fasting is a denying of the flesh to accomplish a higher call of the Spirit. When properly used, fasting can bring us closer to God, especially if used in combination with prayer. In this instance Jesus seems to be telling the disciples that fasting would help them improve their faith.

Another aspect of getting closer to God is keeping the lines of communication between ourselves and God open so that we stay connected to God.


The lines of communication remain open when we have consistency in our prayer life. We are told to:

Pray without ceasing (KJV). Never stop praying (NIV). (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

... Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit ... (Ephesians 6:18 KJV)

God told us that if we seek him that we will find him (Deuteronomy 4:29; Hebrews 11:6). He is always ready to hear from us. His line is never busy.

Have you ever tried to call someone on the telephone and the line was busy, disconnected or out of range and you could not get your call connected? That will not happen with God if you pray constantly.

One the other hand, have you ever been in a situation where God tried to call you and your line was busy or you were not ready to yield to Him on something? Have you ever been entertaining an evil thought on the other line and could not pick up God's call? It happens. We all fall short at some point.

If we want to keep the lines of communication open with God, then we need to be like Mary (the sister of Martha). Mary had the one thing (Luke 10:42). She sat at the Lord's feet, listening to what he taught (Luke 10:39 NIV). As a result, Mary had God's attention because she was faithful and she was connected.

When Mary's brother Lazarus died, Mary was patient. She sat still (she got alone in prayer) and waited for the call from the Lord (John 11:20, 28-32). When Jesus sent for her, she worshipped at His feet and consequently, Jesus was deeply moved (John 11:33 NIV).

Mary kept the lines of communication open.


Staying connected can help us when we pray. This is why we are told to never stop praying (1 Thessalonians 5:17 NIV).

A good example is an electrical cord for a household appliance. If the cord is lying on the floor and is not plugged in - then it will have no power going through it. To get the power going, first you have to make the connection by plugging the cord in. Only then can the power begin to surge through the cord to the appliance.

We plug in to God through prayer, praise and worship and the knowledge and application of His Word (the Bible).

If you want your prayers answered it not a good idea to wait until you have an urgent prayer request to try to get to know God. But if you spend time in His presence the connection is live and active through a sweet intimacy that can only be maintained through on-going time spent with Him.

As we said earlier:

Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4 NIV)


Another aspect to staying connected to God is like talking on a cell phone. When you have a lot of static sometimes it is difficult to hear what the other person is saying. Or, if you are in a poor reception area and you have only 1 or 2 bars on your cell phone your reception could be impaired. Ideally, you should stay in a good reception area.

In prayer, you want to avoid the hindrances to prayer, those things that can block your prayers from going up and being heard by God. It is best when talking to God that you have five bars so that He will be able to hear your petitions and you will be able to hear what and when He answers you.

In the book, How to Pray, by R. A. Torrey, seven hindrances to prayer are explained. We will just list them and some related scriptures here:

• Asking amiss

Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. (James 4:3 KJV)

• Sin

But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. (Isaiah 59:2 KJV)

Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth. (John 9:31 KJV)

• Idolatry

Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the -stumblingblock of their iniquity before their face: should I be enquired of at all by them? (Ezekiel 14:3 KJV)

• Stinginess - Not giving to the poor

Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard. (Proverbs 21:13 KJV)

• Unforgiving spirit

And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. (Mark 11:25 KJV)

• Wrong relationship between husband and wife

Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered. (1 Peter 3:7 KJV)

• Unbelief

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. (James 1:5-7 KJV)

If you want your prayers to be effective, make sure these hindrances to prayer are not present in your life.


God did not leave us alone to figure out how to pray on our own. He has given us many instructions as well as examples of successful prayer warriors to follow.

Below is a list of instructions from the Bible on how to pray. These scriptures merit a serious study on our part to help us understand how to be effective at praying.

a) What to Pray: The Lord Prayer

I do not believe that the Lord's Prayer was (solely) meant to be recited over and over. I believe Jesus taught us a guide that will help facilitate effective prayer.

After this manner therefore pray ye:

Our Father which art in heaven,

Hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come,

Thy will be done in earth,

as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts,

as we forgive our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil:

For thine is the kingdom,

and the power,

and the glory,

for ever. Amen. (Matthew 6:9-12 KJV)

Your challenge is to dissect The Lord's Prayer to see what God is telling you about prayer.

In my view, the Lord's Prayer can be divided into at least seven sections with specific functions of prayer. As a guide, The Lord's Prayer includes at least the following:

(1) Opening, Address to the Father

(2) Praise His Name

(3) Submit to God's Will

(4) Request provision (statement of faith and reliance on God) and intercede for others

(5) Request for forgiveness from God and forgive others

(6) Request strength and protection to stay away from evil

(7) Thanksgiving

b) When to Pray: Early and Late

O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. (Psalm 63:1-2 KJV)

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. (Mark 1:35 NIV)

And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. (Matthew 14:23 KJV)

c) Where to Pray: In Private (except corporate prayer)

But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. (Luke 5:16 NIV)

"When you pray, don't be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you." (Matthew 6:5-6 NLT)

d) How to Pray: From Your Heart, Come Boldly with Confidence and Faith in Jesus' Name

And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Matthew 6:6-7 NIV)

Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God's unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it]. (Hebrews 4:16 AMP)

Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. (Mark 11:24 KJV)

Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. (John 16:23 KJV)

e) How Long to Pray: One Hour, Persistently, Without Ceasing

And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. (Matthew 26:40-41 KJV)

For a friend of mine who is on a journey has just come, and I have nothing to put before him; And he from within will answer, Do not disturb me; the door is now closed, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and supply you [with anything]? I tell you, although he will not get up and supply him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his shameless persistence and insistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs. So I say to you, Ask and keep on asking and it shall be given you; seek and keep on seeking and you shall find; knock and keep on knocking and the door shall be opened to you. (Luke 11:6-8 AMP)

[The Parable of the Persistent Widow] Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. (Luke 18:1 NIV)

And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. (Luke 6:12 KJV)

Pray without ceasing (KJV). Never stop praying (NIV). (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

f) How Often to Pray: Every Day, Always, Three Times a Day

Give us this day our daily bread. (Matthew 6:11 KJV)

Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime. (Daniel 6:10 KJV)

Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit ... (Ephesians 6:18 KJV)

g) Who Should We Pray For: Ourselves, Others, Leaders, All the Saints

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. (1 Timothy 2:1-2 KJV)

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. (James 5:16 KJV)

... and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints ... (Ephesians 6:18 KJV)

Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God's unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it]. (Hebrews 4:16 AMP)


Daniel was a faithful man. We know that he prayed three times a day (Daniel 6:10) and did not defile himself with the king's meat and wine (Daniel 1:8-20). The Bible tells us that Daniel's prayer involved getting down on his knees ... giving thanks to His God ... and asking for God's help (Daniel 6:10-11 NIV). He also fasted (Daniel 9:3; 10:3). He praised God, confessed sins and interceded (Daniel 9).

I am sure that his prayer life contributed to his success both spiritually and in the world. Prayer enabled him to maintain his holiness while being in a high position of government in Babylon.

There are four points to note about Daniel 's walk with God that are directly attributable to his prayer life:

First, The Bible tells us that there was an excellent spirit in Daniel (Daniel 5:12; 6:3) which of course came from the Lord. How did Daniel get this excellent spirit? He stayed connected to the Lord through prayer.

Second, the Lord protected Daniel. When Daniel was thrown into the Lion's den he came out unharmed - because he was connected to God through prayer.

My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight ..." (Daniel 6:21-22 NIV)

Third, even though spiritual opposition caused Daniel to experience delay in getting certain of his prayers answered, those answers eventually came (Daniel 10:10-14). During the delay, Daniel continued to pray as was his usual practice (Daniel 6:10; 9; 10).

Four, God gave Daniel great visions and revelations (Daniel 7-10). Daniel was prepared to hear from the Lord because the lines of communication were open between him and God, the result of his prayer life and his holiness.

If we follow Daniel's example, then like Daniel, each of us can have an excellent spirit in us, be protected by the Lord, get answers to our prayers even when/if there is spiritual opposition, and experience great revelations from the Lord.

God tells us that anyone who obeys His Word is on solid ground:

Anyone who comes and listens to me and obeys me is like someone who dug down deep and built a house on solid rock. When the flood came and the river rushed against the house, it was built so well that it didn't even shake. (Luke 6:47-48 CEV)

"...your heavenly Father is even more ready to give the Holy Spirit to anyone who asks..." (Luke 11:13 CEV)

Listen to what God says in His Word about prayer - then obey. You too will be on solid ground and be victorious Like Daniel.


When you look at the great men of God you will see that they were all men of prayer. Noah was the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God (Genesis 6:9 NLT). Abraham, the friend of God (James 2:23), constantly prayed and sacrificed to Our Lord. David, a man after his [God's] own heart (1 Samuel 13:13-14 KJV), wrote many of the Psalms and danced [in worship] before the LORD with all his might (2 Samuel 6:13-21). Moses' spent countless hours before the Lord. In fact, his face was shining brightly because the LORD had been speaking to him (Exodus 34:29-35 CEV).

Nonetheless, all of these great men of God were human. One of the things you should notice about this select group of Godly warriors is that, like all of us, they all had shortcomings. When they acted in their own strength (or power) they made huge errors! Noah got drunk and passed out (Genesis 9:20-24). David committed adultery and murder (2 Samuel 11). Moses murdered a man and had bouts of anger, consequently he missed the Promised Land (Exodus 2:11-16; Number 20:2-13). Abraham created a nation of rebels through his unbelief and his act with Hagar (Genesis 16:1-4; 17:19-20; Galatians 4:23).

What's the point? When they stayed connected to God, when they were obedient to God, when their actions were determined through their prayer life - when they operated in God's will and His power - they did great things for God. But when they operated in their own strength and understanding (see Proverbs 3:5-6) they messed up big time.

If you want real power in your life - stay connected to God through fervent prayer and stay in His will. He's got the power and He alone will use it.


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