TOPIC: Making a Difference in our Prayer Life
TEXT: Daniel 6:7 – 14
PREACHER: Pastor (Prof.) Bisi Olawuyi
This morning, beloved, we are in the season of Unusual Encounter – a season where our lives must be better and must not remain the same. We have been going through days of fasting and several people have not even lost a kilo, those who have lost kilos are looking more beautiful and more fit. The Bible says, “Those that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount on winds like eagle, they shall run and not be weary.” The Lord will renew our strength in Jesus name; not just physically but spiritually also. You must never remain the same after these forty days. We have denied ourselves pleasures and food but everything will be futile if we do not do it correctly. If you are not eating and you are not praying, then, you are on hunger strike. The Reverend reminded us that we are on hunger strike if we are not praying. Prayer is very essential and important. You know what you say when you begin to pray? When you are praying, you are saying you have no power of your own. When your lifestyle is all about prayers and you are living a praying life, what you are saying is that your dependency is on God. You are saying, “I don’t have any power at all. By myself, I can do nothing.”
When you take the action and talk to God in prayers, the heavens know, and when you are not a casual visitor, the heavens are standing and saying, “Oh, he is here! Oh, she is here” and all ears are open, every machinery is at work in heaven to answer you. But once it is a casual visitor, a fire brigade, a hit-and-run, the kind of speed that is used to attend to the person who is a regular won’t be used for him, just as when you hear a knock and it is a familiar voice, you will be quick to open the door, but if it is not a familiar voice, you will hesitate before opening the door, that is what happens when you are not a regular caller. There are some houses you get to that you are not a visitor any longer and you can move anywhere, that’s the same that happens in the place of prayer.
Making a difference in our prayer life. Why do we have to pray at all?
- We have to pray so that God will know that we are not sufficient in our own selves. Some people will say, “Don’t God know what I need?” This reminds me of something that happened years back which makes me sad whenever I remember it. My friend has been a good follower of the Lord and had passed through a lot. She came down to Ilorin for a spiritual programme and we got talking. As we got talking, she told me some things she was going through and when she mentioned them, I said, “Wow, we need to pray. You need to pray, and not just pray, but use the right kind of word to pray so that we can hit the nail on the head.” What she told me that day shocked me, she said, “He is God. He made me and whatever He wants to do with me, let Him do.” I said, “This is something we need to change, something we can change through prayer.” I told her to go to Ibadan to stay with her mum instead of Jos where she lived. About two weeks later, we were conducting Post UTME exam when I got a call that we should begin to pray for mercy before judgment because my friend was in a critical condition. I started praying right from there but at a point, I sought permission and came home to pray with the Reverend. While we were praying, we got a call that she was gone. Apparently, she had died already but the husband did not know how to tell the mother. The problem made her depressed so much that she took something and died. We hear so many stories like that today about people who do one thing or the other to end their lives. “O what peace we often forfeit all because we do not cast everything before God in prayer.” We have a friend in Jesus, He is closer to us than the cloth we wear. You look at some people who act like they do not have worries and you wonder. Why do I need to worry when I have someone who says, “Cast your cares on me.” Some people act like they don’t have problems, yes, because they have casted all their problems on Jesus.
- You must pray because Jesus prayed, no wonder He was successful in the Ministry. If you go through the Word of God, every point in time, you will have heard about Him going to a solitary place. I am sure even when He was in the boat and while He was walking, He was praying. So, you are either praying or playing
- You must pray if you want to make anything meaningful out of life. A lot of people are where they are because they do not pray. He knows you need something but He said you need to order your conversation aright in prayer, not in complaining nor grumbling. You need to put your conversation in the right direction, in prayer. A lot of people talk more about praying than the action itself and that’s not it, such doesn’t lead you anywhere. Jesus taught His disciples how to pray when they saw that all His life was prayer. A lot of deep things would have gone in the closet and when they see the manifestations outside, they begin to wonder how it happened and so, people add things together and say they have become diabolical. Your life will become a wonder, people will begin to see the glory of God and begin to ask how you have done it.
He said, when you want to pray, go into the closet, don’t be like the publicans. One woman was in a closet in her shop praying, her phone rang and she said, “I am praying right now, call me later.” Some minutes later, someone was haggling her goods and she responded, saying, “It is not ₦50, but ₦100. The person was about going and she responded again that she should be called back to pick the good at ₦50. That is not right.
- As you are walking on the road and driving in your car, talk to God. At every opportunity you have, talk to God. If you want to make a difference in your prayer life, you must talk more with God than men. Talk more to God because He is the only one that can help you. The help of man is limited but the help of God is not elastic, because elasticity has an end; the help of God is limitless. You must pray because the help of man is limited. The help of God is limitless, not just elastic and so, you must depend on him completely.
- Again, you must pray because the adversary is not sleeping. The devil is not resting. The Bible says he goes about like a roaring lion, looking for whom to devour. Daddy used to sing, “Did you not warn him or tell him, or is he the one who does not listen? The person who does not have Christ and who is showing off,” by the time such man is caught, he will be found as light as a feather and the devil will punish him. The adversary is not resting, he is looking for whom to devour. If you don’t want to be devoured, you must not give the enemy any chance at all. Water as they say, will always find its way. If there is a tiny hole in the door, the water comes in little by little until it floods that place and destroys the house. So, if you are not taking your prayer life seriously, you will discover that that is an opening for the devil to enter and devour you.
- Prayer is not only a privilege, it is a blessing (Mark 3:14). Through prayer, you gain access to your father, just as the disciples gained access to Him and He gave them power. You will be able to gain access to your father who happened to be the God of the universe. What a privilege! And so, you will be empowered to do anything that is right. You will be empowered to do anything that brings glory to your father. Prayer is not only a privilege and a blessing, through prayer, our hearts are strengthened and encouraged. When you pray, your heart is strengthened, you are encouraged. It’s just like what is normally said about a problem shared being half-solved. That is a problem you share with human beings, how much more your heavenly Father. So, when you share the problem with him, you become strengthened and encouraged. Through prayer, the atmosphere of your home and heart will change. When you pray and are not playing, there will be a difference, the atmosphere will not be of fear and anxiety but an atmosphere that the peace of God that passes every human understanding will reign supreme. People will look at you and wonder because you have reported the situation to the ‘I am that I am’, the One who can do everything anytime.
- Through prayer, God brings our hearts into alignment with him (John 11:42). God listens to us and hears us when we pray. He brings our heart to align with His own when we pray. You are not a stranger to him and not at a distance to him, you are close to him.
- Through prayer, God works in surprising and incredible ways. We have heard it often that what God cannot do does not exist. There is nothing that prayer cannot surmount. If the prayer is according to the will of God, if it is praying fervently and efficiently, it will avail more and there will be results. When you spend quality time with God, it will show in your lifetime and in your achievements, it won’t just be what one says out of the mouth. Look at the case of Daniel, the Bible made us to understand that Daniel stood out among his peers, even in a strange land because he was somebody given to the Word of God and prayers. The Bible says he knelt down three times to pray and this was shown in his achievements in life. Favour was following him everywhere he went to because he had settled it on his knees. No wonder, King Darius’ heart was seriously endeared to him. The Bible made us to understand in Daniel 6:14 that when the King heard it, he was thinking in heart why he had signed that king of foolish law because he knew that if anything happened to Daniel, he had lost a wise and great counsellor. Daniel was a great force to reckon with in his kingdom and he was not ready to lose him. The Bible says, Darius could not sleep and eventually, the God who Daniel served delivered him. It’s not as if we won’t have trials, we will, but God is able to deliver us. As long as you are a prayerful person, you may go through that season but the Word of God to deliver you will come to pass. As it is not possible for anybody to hold the morning from coming forth, so your miracle will break forth in Jesus Name.
Somebody said, a man who cannot lead you in prayer cannot lead you in life. When you have seen a leader who cannot pray, then that person is not fit to be your leader because you will be going the wrong direction. There is a great power in prayer. When men work, they work, but when men pray, God works. When you pray, it is God that does it for you, when you work, you are limited. So, you can see that you can’t trivialize prayer. A man who stops praying is sinning, when you stop praying, it means you have started committing sin but if you are praying, the prayer will stop you from sinning. If you want to live a victorious Christian life, you must pray.
- Your prayer must be intentional. You have to plan for that prayer, it’s not just, “If I have time.” In fact, the day your alarm does not ring, because you pray regularly, you will wake up, but if you are a casual person, switching off your alarms when it rings, you can’t make any headway. Prayer must be intentional, it’s not something you do when you just have time, you must have time for it. Prayer is a choice, don’t forget. It must be intentional. It doesn’t happen by chance and if you want to succeed in life, you must pray. D.L. Moody said something sometimes ago that every great movement of God at any point in time is traced to a man or a people who had been praying. Prayer precedes success. Make up your mind to make a difference in prayer.
- From today, pray the Word of God. If you pray the Word of God, you cannot pray amiss. “Bring forth your strong reasons,” it goes back to your study of the word of God because if you are not studying the word of God, how do you know that it says you should bring forth your strong reasons?
- You need to start by making small changes and be consistent with it if you want your prayer life to change. Some people after hearing the word of God make up their mind to pray for 10 hours, but when they try, they pray for 5 minutes and relax. The great things that start, start little. You may decide to pray three hours a day, you may divide it into 1 hour in the morning, 30 minutes later and so on. Eventually, when you are consistent, you would be able to pray for 3 hours at a stretch. At a point, you may set an alarm to stop and when it rings, you shut it down that you are not done.
- You need to watch your words. A warrior in prayer cannot be careless with words. If you want to make a difference in your prayer life, the life you live matters a lot. You can’t live like every normal person and say what other people are saying. Your vocabulary has to be, “Yes I can. Yes, Lord.” If you want to make a difference, your words must change and don’t say things that will discourage you. Confess it that you will create the time and you will see God helping you. Beloved, Daniel made up his time to pray and he was able to make ends meet and stand out in life. He was able to make great achievements.
If there is anybody wanting to make a change in their prayer life, tell the Lord:
- Father, I know I have not made use of the capacity you have put in me to be able to pray, please forgive me. Tell him you are sorry that you have not prayed as He ought that you pray.
- Thank Him for the privilege to be His child and the privilege to come to His presence in prayer.
- Father, please set my heart on fire for you.