The Power of Prayer
April 10, 2011

The Power of Prayer

From Luke 9:37-62, there is a powerful connecting thread of prayerfulness on the part of Jesus and prayerlessness on the part of His disciples. Notice how prayerlessness radically impacts the ability of the disciples to discern spiritual things and follow Christ in truth. Our own prayerless will affect us the same way.


Sermon Notes

Read Luke 9:37-62.

The key to understanding Jesus' relationship and interaction with his disciples in these passages is what took place on the mountain during Jesus' transfiguration:

[28] Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. [29] And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. (Luke 9:28-29 ESV)

Prayer was something Jesus modeled. (Mark 1:35, Matthew 14:23, *Luke 5:16 - "but he would withdraw to desolate places to pray.")

Being pre-prayered makes you prepared.

Let's look at each of the following scenarios with that perspective.

  • The Healing... Luke only records a fraction of what happens in this instance. Matthew 17:14-20 and Mark 9:14-29 tell the rest. Why were the disciples below powerless to help this boy? They'd done it before! Perhaps that was the reason... they were below. Their source of strength had shifted subtly from the empowerment of Jesus to the reliance on methods. They were attempting to do ministry in their own strength. Notice Jesus' response:
    [41] Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.”
    Mark 9:28 And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” 29 And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.” [some add "and fasting"]
    Matthew 17:19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” 20 He said to them, “Because of your little faith."

It's interesting to note how the crowds responded to the healing in v43: And all were astonished at the majesty of God. In his commentary, Kent Hughes notes that the word used here for "majesty" is also used in Peter's description of what happened earlier on the mountain.

"For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain." (2 Peter 1:16-18 ESV)

Luke wants us to consider that wherever Jesus is, His majesty is. It can be in mountaintop experiences when we're in the cloud of glory, or it can be in the valleys with demonic forces. We must not allow our attention and reliance to shift from the Majesty of the Savior to methodologies or our own strength.

Jesus said point-blank that the disciples were "faithless." They were not experiencing the power of God because they didn't have in mind their relationship with Him. They were not operating from dependence and love and trust in Him.

How did that position of faithlessness impact the other accounts?

  • Prophecy of Jesus' death being hidden from them. If you're not operating from faith, you won't understand the things of the spirit. (1 Cor 2:14, 3:1)
  • Debate over Greatness: When you're not bowed before God, you won't be humble before others. True humility comes when we recognize God's gracious greatness and leads to joyful gratitude and a humble attitude....
    • Being prayerful brings humility which impacts how you see God at work in other's lives. It doesn't happen as you prescribe or want. His work in the lives of others goes on without our involvement (much to our astonishment and chagrin!). ~ Exorcism & Samaritans
  • Cost of Discipleship: Jesus' implications are that we cannot continue with life as normal. Nor are we allowed to use the same perspective. Our attitudes, minds and desires will be changed as we follow Him.

All these things are adjusted through an intimate, consistent and joyful prayer life in Christ. Jesus modeled this, taught this (Lord's Prayer, Luke 18:1) and the gospel points out that Jesus did nothing on His own; He consulted and obeyed His Father. (John 12:49, 14:10, 31) This was all done and accomplished through prayer.

"Most of us constantly battle with the fact that God seems distant, intimacy with Christ seems difficult to obtain, and our prayers don't seem to be heard." (Eric Ludy in Wrestling Prayer)

But God says, "You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:13) "And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you." (Luke 11:9)

"We aren't finding Him because we aren't searching for Him with all our hearts. We are too preoccupied with watching reality TV shows, too busy downloading the latest songs on iTunes, and too enamored with Hollywood's latest production to let our whole being be poured forth in constant and unreserved devotion in the service of the Lord who died to save us. [We claim] we don't have enough time for prayer and seeking God. But we don't ever consider giving up our nightly TV time, our weekend movie fests, or our YouTube fetish in exchange for spending time in His presence." (Ludy, p122)

Before you let yourself off the hook because the practical identifications by this author didn't touch your own idols, give careful consideration to what has captivated your heart other than prayer with the God who loves you. It may not be Facebook or technology or entertainment. It could be books, time with your spouse or friends, children, vacations, career, sports, health, fitness, etc.


  • You JUST MUST TRUST. That a relationship with the Father changes everything!!! Examine what it is in your life that is inhibiting your release of love and trusting the Father. He offers Himself without limits to all those who trust in Him.
  • Prepare for a quiet explosion of joyfulness, contentment, humility and gratitude.
  • Realize that your current grace may be the blessing of others' prayers.
  • Get pre-prayered so you can be prepared. I want to challenge the husbands-wives here to pray for a total of an hour together this week. I want to challenge others to pray for the same amount with someone else.

In short, if you begin to prioritize prayer in your life, prayerfulness will, as modeled in these passages (and others in the New Testament):

  • combat work of the devil,
  • give us ability to understand spiritual things,
  • bring the Father's perspective,
  • kill competitiveness and comparison,
  • transform us as we follow Him.