How to Pray in Power

April 4, 2024
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What does it mean to pray in power? 

Recently, I was training a leadership team in spiritual warfare. I spoke about prayer as an effective weapon against demonic attack. One attendee asked, “What does it mean to pray in power? I have heard you use that phrase a couple of times, but how does that work?”  

Great question. 

Before we can pray in power we must have the right foundation. Just like before we can successfully hit a golf ball or a fast ball, we must first stand right with good balance. Power praying flows from a solid foundation. 

First, we can define power as the ability to do something, to act, or to influence another. I have the power to mow my yard. I have the power to influence my son to mow the yard. I have power to lift some boxes. I do not have the power to lift other boxes.   

Biblically, Jesus says in Acts 1:8, “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Without the Spirit I do not have the power to witness. Because of the Spirit I have the power to witness. Power is the ability to act or influence. 

Second, life is a power battle. I think this is one of the hardest realities in which to enter. Truly, he or she who has the most power wins. The exertion of power in Jesus’s ministry was one of His main attractions. Even in the beginning of His ministry people were in awe of what He could do, “They (the crowd) were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (Mark 1:22). Notice that the difference people experienced in Jesus’s teaching was not so much His content as much as His authority. Immediately after this verse a demon possessed man disrupted Jesus. Jesus confronted the demon, exercised greater power, and the man was healed.  

I think Paul’s words about power in 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 are deeply troubling for many of us who have been raised in Western Christianity. Look at the emphasis Paul gives to the reality of life as a power battle,  

And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God (Emphasis added). 

Paul understood life is a power battle. He trained his disciples to rest their faith on the power of God – the ability of God to bring victory against the other sources of power in the world in everyday life. Sadly, I fear that most of Western Christianity trains us to rest our faith on knowledge, not power. To pray in power is to live in the overflow of receiving God’s power for daily living. We must allow our Father to transition us from a knowledge based faith to one immersed in love and power that is informed by knowledge. We need knowledge. But knowledge that does not inform love and power is useless.  

Third, authority and power should be intimately connected. In our Mark 1 text, where the crowd awes at Jesus’s authority, we see authority and power working together. However, oftentimes they can be disconnected. I have been in ministry roles where I was given positional authority but not power to act. I was the leader but did not have the ability to make decisions or implement change. And when I tried, the real power brokers rose up.  

Consider a man or woman who is in senior management of a company. They have positional authority. However, one day a disgruntled employee shows up to the office with a gun. The employee shoots the senior manager. While the manager has positional authority, the employee, because of the gun, has the power. 

When Jesus teaches, He exercises both authority and power. Scripture says in Ephesians 1:18-2:10 that when Jesus ascended to the Father after His resurrection He was raised “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion” (Ephesians 1:21). Because Jesus sits at the right hand of our Father He has both positional authority, there is no one higher, and all power, there is no one more powerful. 

Scripture goes on to say that we who have converted to Christ, have been filled with the Spirit, have been made sons and daughters of our Father, have also been raised and seated with Jesus! (Ephesians 2:5-6). Therefore, today, we have all same authority and power that Jesus did.  

Fourth, there are a limited number of entities that have power in life. Scripture teaches that God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit), angels, demons, the world, and people have power. Power does not exist abstractly. It is expressed by someone(s).  

With respect to people, Scripture teaches that each of us is accountable for the actions we take. We can choose actions and behaviors. Scripture also teaches that sin is at work in each of us. Sin is inner rebellion. It is an interior power that, for the one who is not yet saved, controls that person. Sin is their dominant operating power. Because one has not been filled with the Holy Spirit, sin reigns. The unregenerate have no choice but to act rebelliously.  

For the one who is alive in Christ, sin is still internally active. While no longer the dominate operating power, sin can still be heavily influential. However, the one saved is filled with the person of the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit has greater power than the power of sin. Paul writes in Romans 8:13, “…but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” “Deeds of the body” is another way of saying the behaviors and actions sin’s power wants you to do. There is a power encounter inside of you between the power of the Holy Spirit and the power of sin.  

Sin wants you to be gluttonous and eat way more than you should. When you are attuned to your interior condition you can literally feel sin’s power leading you to act. However, the Holy Spirit wants you to exercise self-control. Sin wants to overpower you with jealousy. The Holy Spirit wants you to rest in our Father’s faithfulness and be content.  

Our interior battles are our personal training ground to learn power praying. Power praying begins by actively drawing on Holy Spirit power for our victory in our daily fights against our propensity to sin. One can literally pray, “Father, I am too weak to say no to over-eating in this meal. In the name of Jesus, by the Holy Spirit, I reject sin in me and choose to eat healthy.” (The use of food as an example may seem absurd but the obesity rate in our country is estimated to be 40+%. Experiencing fullness of life in Christ and being significantly overweight is a major challenge.) In this prayer one seeks to flex the power of the Spirit against the power of the flesh.   

In addition to sin, Scripture says the world has power as well. If sin is defined as interior rebellion, then the world can be defined as collective rebellion. The world is the ideas and practices of culture. Culture is the collective beliefs and practices of the majority of people in a given area. The United States has a culture. But in the United States Southern culture is different than Northen or Californian culture.  

Culture exercises power against faithfulness. The Apostle John warns against the world’s power in 1 John 2:15-17, “Do not love the world nor the things in the world…The world is passing away, also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.” We must identify the worldly messages of which culture uses to overpower us, leading us away from trust in our Father, Jesus, and the Spirit.  

In addition to sin and the world, Satan and his demonic horde also exercise power. As our accusers and tempters, these fallen angels can lure us from the vitality Jesus has. Nevertheless, we have been empowered by the Holy Spirt with far greater power. James trains his disciples in James 4:7, “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”  

I can fall under attack when I discern a demon is trying to convince me, trying to exercise power over me, that I am a failure as a dad or terrible at ministry or not good enough to fit in with a group of others. Demonic attacks can come in words, dreams, visions, images, songs, feelings, impressions, or whatever other means they can concoct. Regardless, the power of the Holy Spirit in the believer is far, far greater than any demonic muscle.  

In a Bible study recently a woman remarked, “I don’t even like talking about spiritual warfare because I just don’t want them to come after me!” I replied, “The only reason you fear spiritual warfare is because you do not understand the degree of authority and power you have in Jesus Christ.” The power imbalance in spiritual warfare is decidedly in Jesus’s, and your, favor! 

So, when I discern a demon is attacking me, in the same way I would if someone was physically threatening me, I rebuke their attacking in the name of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit. I submit that specific attack to God, resist the enemy, and watch him flee.  

Power praying in other’s lives is nothing more than extension of power praying in your own life. Hopefully this overview has been helpful. When we live in the overflow, when we allow Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to go first in all things, and we daily receive as they give, then we are proactively prepared to stand strong. We are ready to fight.  

We are ready to pray in power.  

Power praying for ourselves, and others, happens organically as we live…in the OVERFLOW! 

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