Growing up in the home of an IPHC pastor, I often heard the phrase "prayer changes things." I have witnessed and experienced this life-altering phrase and know without a doubt that it is true. As followers of Christ prayer is crucial to our walk of faith, and when the enemy comes against us to try to destroy us, prayer can turn situations around for our good. Oh, how blessed we are to have the assurance that when we pray, He hears and answers our prayers. He is all-powerful, the ruler of the affairs of nations, and I am confident in God's sovereignty over everything in life. Only He can soften hearts and change minds. That is the result of prayer.
The Practice of Prayer
Leonard Ravenhill said, "No man is greater than his prayer life. The pastor who is not praying is playing; the people who are not praying are straying. Failing here, we fail everywhere else." Ravenhill says our prayer life determines whether we succeed or fail. The question for us is, "Are we steadfast in prayer?" As leaders, prayer is the insurer of successful leadership and discipleship. We may be seen and described as intelligent, strong, respected, independent, or even attractive, but are we seen as "Steadfast in Prayer?"
Steadfast means: resolutely or dutifully firm and unwavering, loyal, faithful, committed, devoted, dedicated, dependable, reliable, true, constant, solid, trustworthy, firm, determined, resolute, relentless. Wow! That sure sounds like God.
Steadfast in prayer means:
- - We are immovable (confident) in good times or bad times.
- - Our prayer life is not determined by abundance or lack.
- - God is involved in every aspect of life (the good, the bad, the ugly).
- - We live in peace and assurance even through the storms.
There is a song with the lyrics, "I've got confidence, God's gonna see me through. No matter what the case may be, I know He's gonna fix it for me." Prayer is the source of that confidence!
The Lifestyle of Prayer
1. We pray so that we look to and depend on God and His wisdom, not ourselves.
I know we all have opinions, and everyone wants to share their opinion about everything. But we should be selective in our listening. I have no problem following a leader with a consistent prayer life, who depends on God for direction. And although it's said that wisdom comes with age, this world is broken by sin, which means worldly wisdom is limited due to being polluted by sin and the lies of the enemy. So regardless of age, instead of "going with our gut feeling," we must look to God for heavenly wisdom. This is where the ideas, suggestions, and opinions originate if we are in constant communication with God. Be assured, "Instruction from God will not fail." Proverbs 3:5,7 says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding ... Do not be wise in your own eyes."
2. We pray to hear God's voice.
I know God speaks through His Word. He also speaks through others. But that does not change the fact that He speaks through prayer, because prayer is our daily communication with the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. When we go before Him in humility, without prejudices, but with a surrendered heart and an open mind, ready to listen to His voice and be filled up, our Sovereign God will speak life and direction for our ministry. It is crucial that the source of our plans and ways of presenting Jesus Christ to the world are a product of time spent with God. Don't think your prayers are unanswered. Don't be surprised if the answer is not what you expected. His answer is always best!
3. We pray to remain fervent in spirit.
Fervent is a word used in Romans 12:11, which means to be hot, to boil. Zealous would be a synonym, which means to be jealous, to seek or desire eagerly. Oh, that we would let the Holy Spirit set aflame our hearts for God, and as the Apostle Paul said, continue steadfastly in prayer! The greatest discipleship success comes through following the leading of the Holy Spirit in every aspect of ministry. Once we have been set on fire spiritually, we must continue to feed the fire with prayer.
Remember, steadfast means firm and secure. We must be firmly founded in our thoughts with the wisdom of God, then open our hearts to the Lord and constantly feed the embers of the fire. When we submit ourselves to His presence, prayer will become our resting place through which we meet with God for insight and inspiration!
Negative influences can weaken a lifestyle of prayer or our resolve to pray. Listening to the lies of the enemy or allowing what we see with our eyes to hinder the believing in our hearts will interrupt our commitment to pray. God is not upset or surprised by anything that is happening around us but equips us for warfare, not intimidation by the enemy.
The Effect of Prayer & the Holy Spirit
I saw an inspirational photo quote that read, "When prayers become your habit, miracles become your lifestyle." We've heard Daniel described as the man who prayed three times a day. He was much more than that. Daniel was a prophet who was constant in prayer, devoted, dedicated, loyal, reliable – all the things which define steadfastness. He prayed, fasted, and mourned for three weeks regarding the revelation from God concerning a great future war. His prayers were a declaration of reverence and allegiance to a God whose name and kingdom were in direct conflict with Darius' pretensions. Surely Daniel experienced the same feelings that we often deal with, i.e. sadness, loneliness, yearning, anxiety and fear; as well as those mentioned in scripture: terror, helplessness, no strength, trembling and anguish. But on the 24th day came a visitation from an angel (Daniel 10) who gave Daniel reassurance that God had heard and was responding.
We are in the same struggle against the rulers, the spiritual forces of evil, in the heavenly realms as recorded in Ephesians 6. But just as prayer triggered the angel Gabriel and breakthrough was occurring at the beginning of Daniel's steadfast, persevering prayer; we trigger the beginning of breakthrough and victory when we stand unwavering in prayer, focused on God. While Daniel prayed for those 21 days, warfare was occurring over the nation, because when we pray there is warfare in the heavenlies for our good and God's glory. If we are praying for the presence and power of God in our lives, in our ministries, in our homes, and in our nation, warfare WILL come.
Since we are daily and continually in a battle between good and evil forces, we must remain "steadfast in prayer!" Here are three reasons why:
- - We are obedient to God’s Word when we pray.
- - Needs are great and prayer ushers God's providence into and upon the issues of life, family, church, ministry, and culture.
- - God acts when we pray and often does more in seconds than we could do in hours or weeks or sometimes years.
The Result of Steadfast Prayer
Uniting our will to His will is an important component of any prayer petition. Prayer is ineffective if we only see it as a way to manipulate God for our own ends, but peace and successful ministry are the results when we open our hearts to the Holy Spirit. That means we cannot desire only results that coincide with our own will for our lives, because the truth is that is not really praying. Prayer is a conversation with God, not an utterance of desires or demands. The only way to really have a conversation with someone else is to truly listen to what they have to say. This is the beauty of prayer: we are endowed with the privilege to listen to, and truly experience, Christ.
In the end, we must remain steadfast in prayer, because God values the audacity in our persistence, and He will honor that audacity of expectation. Perhaps He has not answered your prayer in the way you had hoped, because there is another avenue He wishes you to pursue that will lead you closer to Him and into greater effectiveness in ministry. He may also answer your prayer in the future because He knows this period of tribulation will bring greater intimacy with Him, and His answer is best for a different season. Ultimately, if you open your heart to the Holy Spirit, you will come to understand that remaining "steadfast in prayer" brings the realization that there is no such thing as a prayer gone unanswered.
Here are a few scriptures which address being steadfast and continual in prayer.
- - Colossians 4:2: "Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving."
- - 1 Thessalonians 5:17: "pray continually" or "pray without ceasing." Although that does not mean we walk around in the marketplace loudly proclaiming and praying about our issues, it does mean that we go to work, church, the marketplace, or wherever we go, in an attitude of prayer.
- - Luke 18:1-8: Jesus instructs the disciples with the parable of the persistent widow. Jesus is teaching continual prayer, again and again, rather than continuous, non-stop prayer.
- - Acts 6:4 is a picture of apostolic ministry: "We will give ourselves continually to prayer."
- - Acts 2:42: "They continued steadfastly in prayer."
- - Romans 12:11-12: "not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit ... continuing steadfastly in prayer."
About the Author: Rev. Dr. Brenda Grasty is serving as the Assistant Director on the IPHC Women’s Ministries Board. She is the Director of Deborah’s Daughters for Women’s Ministries, and Missions Director for the Cornerstone Conference. She also serves on the Falcon Children’s Home Board. She is an IPHC Ordained Minister with a Doctorate of Theology degree who teaches, preaches, and sings for conferences, revivals, and other events. Brenda and her husband, Rick, have four children and three grandchildren.