Have you ever heard the phrase “speaking truth to power”? The phrase sounds like something Marx or Nietzsche would have written (Nietzsche had his “Will To Power”, after all) in the 19th century, but it’s actually much more recent; it dates back to a 1955 Quaker pamphlet concerning the Cold War written by Milton Mayer.
No matter what its origin intent was, this expression has recently been transforming my prayer life. If you are like me, you probably labor under a loss for words worth expressing to the God of heaven. I have recently discovered that praying Scripture (“truth”) to the Lord (“power”) adds an elevating resonance that is otherwise lacking. William Law asserts, “He who has learned to pray has learned the greatest secret of a holy and happy life.” Learn is the key word. How will we learn to pray if we are not willing to be taught by the Word of God?
While I have a long way to go in my divine dialogue here are few thoughts:
- The Bible is full of real saints that exemplify our prayers.
The blight of our day is that we are inundated with poor, feeble examples of how to pray around us. To experience the power of God, you must disengage from the contemporary models of prayer and return to the biblical examples of divinely sanctioned prayer warriors. Without listing all of the occurrences here, I encourage you to peruse through the narrative portions of Scripture looking for people praying to the Lord. One biblical example that strengthens our prayers is found in Numbers 14.
11 And the LORD said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them?
12 I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them, and will make of thee a greater nation and mightier than they.
13 And Moses said unto the LORD, Then the Egyptians shall hear it, (for thou broughtest up this people in thy might from among them;)
14 And they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land: for they have heard that thou LORD art among this people, that thou LORD art seen face to face, and that thy cloud standeth over them, and that thou goest before them, by day time in a pillar of a cloud, and in a pillar of fire by night.
15 Now if thou shalt kill all this people as one man, then the nations which have heard the fame of thee will speak, saying,
16 Because the LORD was not able to bring this people into the land which he sware unto them, therefore he hath slain them in the wilderness.
17 And now, I beseech thee, let the power of my Lord be great, according as thou hast spoken, saying,
18 The LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.
- The Bible is full of specific results that confirm our prayers.
Often we do not make what should be an obvious link between biblical ignorance and an unproductive and hesitant prayer life. I was recently in the presence of dear man praying that possessed an almost audacious, confident tone that was, I must admit, unfamiliar to me. As I later reflected upon the specifics of his prayer, I realized that he not “naming it and claiming it” with his own lingo. He simply quoted and claimed personally Bible verses given to him by a God who possessed his absolute confidence. One biblical confirmation that strengthens our prayers is found in James 1.
16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
17 Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.
18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.
- The Bible is full of pointed instructions that frame our prayers.
In our day of “how to” seminars on everything from gardening to business techniques to spiritual disciplines, we must be careful to let God tell us how to pray! The same God who desires our communication qualifies through His Word what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. The greatest manual on prayer is setting on your desk, coffee table, electronic desktop, or pew. One biblical instruction that strengthens our prayers is found in Matthew 6.
5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.
9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.
- The Bible is full of promised responses that motivate our prayers.
If you listen to man’s words on prayer, you will most likely get token nods at best by marginal believers toward the potential of prayer. While the world, on the hand, will respond to our disciplines of prayer by mocking what they view to be archaic and futile. Many of us have stopped praying in the face of such discouragement when we desperately need to remember what God says about prayer. While we have to be careful with the mentality of “Every Promise in the Book Is Mine” (Some are only for the Jews or some other specific person or group), we must not leave unclaimed those promises that are only a prayer away. One biblical promise that strengthens our prayers is found in Matthew 7.
7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?
10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?
11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?
Is your prayer defined more your schedule, your emotions, your thoughts, your demands, or God’s words? E.M. Bounds observes, “The Christian who leaves his place and time of praying at the mercy of a busy schedule will never pray at all.” We need to start allowing ONLY God’s Word to be the exclusive foundation of our prayer activities. Add the “element of truth.” Psalm 119:89 reminds us, “Forever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.” Are you at a loss for words? Find your Bible. Read it. Meditate upon it. Memorize it. Claim it. Count on it as your sure foundation.
Did you notice how much Scripture is found in this post-there is an epic reason for that! I don’t know about you, but I truly want my prayers to possess the foundation and favor of the omnipotent God of heaven. Personally, I am praying on some very specific things that desperately need the infusion of God’s strength. These items have driven me deep into the Scriptures to mine out principles and phrases that will humbly arrest the attention of Heaven. Go and do likewise. Remember, the same God who authored the Bible answers our prayers! Stop mumbling your temporal verbage and starting speaking eternal truth to divine power-it will change your heart, your home, your ministry, and ultimately your eternity.
What other ways can you think of that biblical “truth” adds “power” to our prayers?