Spirit of Grace Ministries
SOGM
Spirit of Grace Ministries
-- Feeding Jesus' sheep
-- Equipping His servants
-- Proclaiming His Gospel

 

The Prayer / Grace Connection

 

prayer

by Dennis Pollock

In Luke's gospel, he tells of one of Jesus' parables with these opening words: "Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart…" (Luke 18:1). Jesus wants His people to pray. And not just to pray, but to always pray. It is prayer that serves as the means by which God’s grace enters the world through Jesus. And if you really understand the nature of grace, you’ll want it, and if you want it, you’ll pray.

As we have shown in other teachings in this series, the opposite of grace is law. There is no third option. You are either living and operating under grace or under law. In the realm of law things always take their natural course. Under law talented people win and untalented people always end up on the bottom. Under law smart people achieve and simple people fail. Under law the salesman who knocks on twenty doors a day will make one tenth the income of a salesman with similar abilities who knocks on two hundred doors a day. And under law, every single living person on the earth, African, Asian, American, and Hispanic will live out their selfish, frustrated, uhappy lives, die at some point, be judged for their sins, and experience everlasting destruction in that place where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.

The experience of salvation is the highest expression of the grace of God. Through Jesus Christ our destiny is altered, the terrible prospect we deserve is cancelled, and the natural course of our lives is totally upended. But this is not the only manifestation of grace we are to experience; indeed it is just the beginning of a lifetime of the operations of God's grace in us. Essentially grace is an intervention: law says you should experience outcome A but grace turns everything around and gives you outcome B, which is infinitely superior. Every time we pray we are asking God for a divine grace intervention into the natural course of our lives. When we intercede on behalf of others, we are asking God for such an intervention in their lives. If we only wanted law for them, there would be no need to pray. The law will take place automatically – it is the natural course of all the causes and effects, physical, psychological, moral, and spiritual, that are stamped by the Creator onto the very fabric of the universe. Law comes easy; grace must be applied for.

Grace that Liberates

In the twelfth chapter of Acts, we read of Peter being put in jail for preaching Christ. James had already been killed and Herod appeared ready to make Peter his next victim. Peter was placed securely in chains, with two Roman soldiers chained on either side. On top of that there were guards at the door. It would seem Peter's life was over and his ministry extinguished. And if things went the way they normally do, that surely would have been the case. But they didn't go according to their natural course.

The Bible tells us that "constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church." And because prayer brings grace and grace changes natural outcomes, what should have happened didn't happen at all. The Scriptures tell us that an angel appeared to Peter in the night. Peter woke up while the soldiers and guards conveniently slept a deep sleep. There was no need for a key or a saw, Peter's chains simply fell off his hands. He followed the angel who led him out of the prison. When they reached the heavy, locked iron city gate, the doors opened on their own. The angel accompanied Peter down one street, must have figured that the apostle could take it from here, and suddenly vanished. Peter was a free man, and carried on his ministry. Grace had triumphed over natural law, and a man that should have died lived to preach again. Prayer from the people of God had made a distinct and tangible difference in Peter's life. Chains were broken, locked doors were opened, tough guards slept like babies, and a man slated for execution went free because of the grace of God coming in response to the prayers of His people.

Grace that Sustains

Many times our interventions may not be as dramatic, but they are every bit as much of a miracle. Shortly after I founded Spirit of Grace Ministries, my wife of thirty years got involved with another man and left me. It was the most painful season in my life, and came at a time when I needed every ounce of faith, courage, and creativity I could muster to get this new ministry off the ground. As I went through the terrible ordeal of losing my life companion, I walked about under a terrible cloud of shock and depression. Anyone who knew me would have given me zero chances of keeping the ministry afloat. I lost all enthusiasm for everything in my life and for a season was simply surviving by going through the motions of all I had to do. Amazingly, God blessed these motions and gave me no indication that He was done with me. Without asking or appealing I was getting major donations to the ministry. Along with many smaller checks, we received two checks in that first year of ten thousand dollars each. One man I did not know contacted me and wanted me to charge his credit card for $500 each month. And in the overseas missions I saw hundreds and sometimes thousands coming forward to receive Christ. Day by day and month by month God made it clear that He wasn't going to allow my ministry to be destroyed.

As I look back from this distance, I can only conclude that God was carrying me by His grace. Had my ministry and life followed their natural, predictable course I would not be in the ministry today. The ministry would never have lasted through that first year. All the articles written, the African and Indian missions we have taken, the conferences, crusades, and schools of ministry we have established are a result of the grace of God sustaining a weak-kneed, heart-sick, wavering, faltering, depressed minister in those early days who dared to believe that Jesus was the healer of the broken-hearted.

The question that must be asked is this: How do we get these interventions to happen? Do we wait for God to sovereignly choose to do them? Must we simply hope that we will be recipients of the grace of God? The answer is pretty simple: we must pray. In Hebrews we read: "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:16). God's throne is a throne of grace for those who approach in the name of Jesus Christ, the Fountain of grace.

Elijah - Man of Prayer

Elijah praying

Prayer in the name of Jesus is the normal means by which God’s grace enters the world and our lives. James writes: "Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit" (James 5:17,18). The first thing we notice here is that Elijah is said to have a "nature like ours." He was a man of God but he was a man. He sweated, sneezed, got irritable at times, he could get impatient, enjoyed meals with friends, got back-aches, and did the things that the Israelites of his day did. But he did one thing that many Israelites didn't do and many people today don't do much – he prayed. Yes, he was a man with a nature like ours, but he was also a man who "prayed earnestly." Sometimes we think of prayer warriors as men and women who are so holy their feet don't touch the ground when they walk, they always talk in a soft heavenly voice, they go around saying, "Bless you, brother, bless you, sister," to everyone they meet, and they certainly never have to go to the bathroom.

Prayer and grace are not something for the angels, they are for ordinary people like you and me. You don't have to be perfect, you don't have to stop being human, you simply need to pray.

Our Lord Jesus went about Israel distributing grace gifts of healing, deliverance, and blessing to the multitudes. It is no coincidence that He was a man of prayer. The Bible says, "Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God" (Luke 6:12). And notice that His prayer life was made up of more than occasional little one-sentence bursts. Jesus knew the value of lingering prayer. He also felt the need to get away from the crowds at times. The Bible says, "Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed" (Mark 1:35). In another place we read: "So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed" (Luke 5:16). Quick little outbursts of prayer have their place in our lives, but it is lingering prayers that mark the soul with the presence of God.

It is prayer that brings grace into our lives. This is true for our initial salvation and it will be true throughout our lives with all sorts of needs for various lesser graces. Prayer brings grace, and a life of prayer will result in a life full of grace. If there is no grace, you can be pretty sure there has been no prayer. James tells us we have not because we ask not. Where there is little prayer there is little grace. Where there is some prayer there is some grace. And where there is much prayer there is much grace.

So why don't Christians pray more than they do? Some might suppose it is because they are lazy. Others might suggest they are simply too busy. These might be secondary reasons but they are not the real reason. The reason people do not pray is that they do not believe what God says about prayer. We prioritize our activities in direct relationship to the benefit we see in them. Nobody has to force a law student to study for his bar exam. An Olympics hopeful does not spend hours every day practicing because his momma makes him. And even the laziest bride will spend hours making sure her hair, her nails, her makeup, and her dress are perfect on the day of her wedding. Where we see value and benefit, we will find the time and energy we need to achieve our goals.

If Christians truly believed that prayer brings grace, and that grace will be the solution for their every need, they would find the time to pray. We have not because we ask not, and we ask not because we believe not. Laziness and busyness are not the primary obstacle to prayer – it is simple unbelief. It is not as though there are no Scriptures encouraging us to pray and assuring us that prayer brings answers. There are far too many for a short devotional such as this, but even if there were only this one, it should be enough: "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened" (Matthew 7:7,8). If we ever really, truly, totally, fully, literally believed that promise, no herd of elephants, no army, no scoffing skeptics, no mocking friends, no busy schedule, no beckoning emails, and no large screen television would be able to keep us from finding the time and the opportunity to fall on our faces and approach that awesome throne of grace.

When you understand this you will rearrange your life's priorities. Time will become precious to you. When faced with the prospect of spending twenty minutes mindlessly surfing the internet or twenty minutes in the presence of the King of kings, you will choose God and prayer. You will even be willing to settle for less – less unprofitable activities, less evenings out, less television, less time staring at your computer or your phone, for the sake of having a prayer life. For where there is prayer, and when that prayer is based upon the name of Jesus and backed by a life of abiding in Jesus, grace is sure to follow.

To see a full listing of all articles available, go to our Written Devos Page.
For a full listing of all articles as audio mp3 files (free downloads), go to our Audio Devos Page.

     

        For inspirational devos, bios of Christian leaders, free downloads, and the latest SOGM news:
Sign up to receive E-newsletter
>>

Your donations are needed and greatly appreciated!

 

 

Just for you!

Missions Outreach


A major part of Spirit of Grace Ministries is our ministry in the great continent of Africa. There is a tremendous harvest going on in the world these days, and we are privileged to be a part of it. Above is a brief music video featuring some pics from our recent mission in Magodes, Uganda.

Audio Devo: "Why is there suffering?"

People have debated this question for millennia. And we cannot speak concerning specific individual questions of suffering, but the Bible clearly speaks as to why suffering has always been a part of the human experience.