Help! I Need
More Power in
The trip to Afghanistan had been planned for several months.
I was traveling with a team of 20 medical specialists and we
looked forward to going into the war-torn, poverty-stricken
country to help alleviate some of the suffering. We also had a
great expectation of bringing hope to the Afghans for a better
Afghanistan is a country in transition. Although the nation
is no longer under the rule of the Taliban, it has not yet experienced
all the changes necessary to make it whole. Poverty still
abounds. Sickness and disease are everywhere. Buildings lie in
ruin, and crime runs rampant.
How wonderful it was when we discovered a hotel available
for us in Kabul! Due to the massive destruction from 25 years of
war, we had anticipated the possibility of sleeping in a tent.
anyhotel-would be better than that! We later laughed
and told people we stayed in a five-star hotel; the only problem
was that all the stars fell off.
At least we had running water and electricity-most of the
time. However, we never knew when the power would go off.
When the electricity was on, we could turn on fans to keep a
small amount of air moving in the sweltering heat. We could use
our hair dryers and turn on lights for reading or dressing. We
truly counted our blessings because other parts of the city had
been without electricity for many months.
I never was able to discover why the power in Afghanistan would
be on for a while and then off for a period of time. If electricity
was available, why didn't we have access to it all of the time?
What caused the inconsistency?
Often I have had the same questions about my prayer life.
Sometimes, when I am praying, the power of God seems almost
tangible. Later, the answers to those prayers manifest in the situations
I addressed. Other times, it seems like the heavens are
brass. I pray every way I know to pray, but nothing seems to
happen. The necessary power to produce the necessary results does
not seem to be present. Situations remain the same, even though
change and transformation desperately need to occur.
On one particular Sunday morning the power of prayer was
evident in our home church. My husband, Dale, had been
experiencing an annoying heart skip for many years. At times this
would not occur for months. At other times it would skip beats
several times a day. On this occasion his heart had been skipping
beats throughout the day for a number of weeks. Dale was standing
next to Chuck Pierce at our church, Glory of Zion, in Denton,
Texas. Pastor Robert Heidler asked the people to turn and pray
for the person next to them. Chuck laid a hand over Dale's heart
and spoke to the condition: "I command this heart to beat
Such a short prayer, yet such powerful results! The next
day Dale's heart skipped only two beats; the day after, only one.
Beginning on the third day, Dale's
heart beat normally. It was obvious
that transformation in his physical
heart had occurred.
Many prayers had been prayed
over Dale's heart throughout the years.
Why did this short, simple prayer suddenly
get such powerful results when
other prayers did not seem to change
I was speaking at a Bible school
in Canada several years ago. For many years the students and
faculty had been praying about the desire for a new facility. The
student enrollment had increased, and the school needed more
room to accommodate those wanting to attend.
One evening the school director, his wife and I drove to a
nearby building that belonged to a church. We sat in the car in
front of the facility for several minutes. The director explained
the situation surrounding the possible sale of that building and
property. Although the building was beautiful and fairly new,
the attendance of the church was not large enough to continue
to pay for it. Some of the members wanted to sell it to be free
from the debt. Other members wanted to continue to hold the
property in hopes of more income.
The three of us sat in the car and prayed:
Lord, You know the answer to this situation. We believe You
have the answer for the members of this church. We also believe
You have the answer for the Bible schooL We believe You have
shown us that this building is to be used for the Bible school.
We therefore speak to this property and tell it to be released.
We now call it into the hands of this student body to train the
next generation. We speak release of debt to the members of this
church. We call forth the right facility that will meet their needs
and not entangle them with debt. Lord, we thank You now for
answering this prayer. Thank You that both the church and the
Bible school will be blessed in this transaction.
A few weeks later I received a phone call from the Bible
school director. "Barbara, I have to tell you what has happened,"
the director said. "Remember the church property we prayed
over? The members have come into agreement that they want to
sell the property to us. They have found a facility that will meet
their needs and free them from debt. There is unity and joy in
the congregation over this decision. Up until now, the whole
issue of the property was bringing division among the members.
Now they are excited at the Lord's provision."
When praying this kind of prayer, we have to truly seek
God's will for everyone involved, not just the solution that best
fits what we want at the moment. In this case, the answer was
best for both parties. If God had wanted the church to grow in
that facility, He would have provided another building for the
I was both thrilled and amazed. How often I had prayed over
similar situations and nothing happened. This time, there
seemed to be a power in the prayer that brought about
resolution. Why wasn't there power like this each time I prayed?
Many times I have asked myself about the inconsistencies in
my prayer life:
• Why do my prayers sometimes fail to bring transformation
to the subject of my prayers?
• Why are some people more effective than others in getting
their prayers answered?
• Is there a way to increase the power in my prayers?
• Why should I want more power? Is it pride?
• Are there limitations to the effectiveness of my prayers?
• How can I tell the difference between a lack of prayer
power and God simply saying "No" or "Not right now"?
God has many people who are faithful in prayer. These
people love the Lord with all their hearts. However, they also realize
that they need more power in their prayer lives because they just
do not see the results for which they long in prayer.
Hindrances to Answered Prayer
I must confess that I do not have all the answers to these
questions about prayer. However, I have discovered some principles
that give me a better understanding and make my prayers more
One of the principles for releasing more power in prayer is to be
sure our lives are as free from sin as possible. I am not speaking
of sinless perfection. When I first read the Scripture that told me
to be perfect (see Matt. 5:48), I thought it meant I was never to
miss the mark. However, the word "perfect" in this Scripture really
means "to complete thoroughly; to mend or to restore." God
wants us to be so complete in Him that we are fully restored to
look and act like Him. He wants us to be mature children of God.
At the same time, God does not want us to practice
habitual sin. He knows that sin brings destruction to our lives and
separates us from fellowship with Him. Our prayers can be
hindered by sin-particularly habitual sin-in our lives:
If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me
However, when we do sin, the Lord has made a way for us to
be forgiven and restored. If we pray and "confess our sins, He is
faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us
from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).
God always hears our prayers; it is just the effectiveness of
them and the answers that are hindered by sin. When we have
confessed our sins and received the Lord's forgiveness, we can
approach Him in prayer, knowing the barrier has been removed.
We do not have to carry guilt and condemnation from past sins.
We can then be God-conscious and not sin-conscious. What joy
in knowing that we are forgiven, cleansed and free to fully
participate with God in His plans!
Another hindrance to answered prayer is unbelief. After praying
with someone, that person may respond, "I wish I could believe
that God will do what you have prayed." God characterizes an
unbelieving heart as an evil heart (see Heb. 3:12).
The Bible gives many examples of people who failed to receive
God's blessings because of unbelief. In Romans we see that there
were those who by their unbelief were cut off from God's
promises. The writer tells us to not be ensnared by the same unbelief but
to stand firm in our faith toward God (see 11:17-21).
Even when we have seen the goodness of the Lord toward
our lives, we can find ourselves in seasons of unbelief. How do
we end up in that state when God has been so good to us? One
reason is that we tend to recall and obsess on our unworthiness.
We remember the mistakes we have made in the past. Our
emotions and lives have told us that we are not worthy of God's
blessings. Somehow we come into agreement with the unworthiness. What freedom when we come to understand fully that
Jesus has made us righteous! We are not made worthy when we
keep all the rules and regulations; we are made righteous
because of our faith:
Not having a righteousness of my own derived from the
Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the
righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith
A revelation of what Jesus has done for us will destroy the
imprisonment of unworthiness.
Another area of unbelief arises when God seemingly answers
the prayers of others but not our own. It is easy to believe God
will answer the prayers of pastors, evangelists or leaders of
ministry organizations. When they relate their stories of victories in
prayer, they seem to be such powerful people. The problem is
that frequently these people fail to honestly disclose the many
prayers that have gone unanswered. I think that is one reason
I love Scripture so much. Throughout the Bible, we read about
people's failures as well as their victories.
Peter was a person who did not always do the right thing.
He had an excellent revelation by the Spirit of God about who
Jesus was. Then in the next breath he tried to talk Jesus out of
doing God's will. Jesus had to say to Peter, "Get behind Me,
Satan!" (Matt. 16:23). Peter was allowing the enemy to
influence his thoughts. He was thinking in a carnal way rather than
in God's way.
In spite of that, God still used Peter dynamically on the Day
of Pentecost. He was able to preach a powerful sermon that
resulted in 3,000 people being saved (see Acts 2:14-41). God
empowers people to do powerful exploits for Him, though they
are not usually the people we would choose. God will use
whoever comes to Him with a heart that is set toward Him and His
purposes. Let the Lord remove any place of doubt that is in you.
Then pray and see what great things He will do through you!
Bad Religious Teachings
Our prayers can often be hindered due to unexamined or
erroneous religious teachings. I grew up in a church that told me that
many things in the Bible had ceased. I was taught that healings,
supernatural signs and wonders,
miracles and deliverance had ended with
the early apostles. Therefore I never
expected God to answer my prayers in
an authoritative way. How surprised
I was when He miraculously healed our
youngest son of rectal polyps at the
age of two! It no longer mattered that
others told me God does not carry out miracles today. The Lord
performed a miracle for our son-even the doctors confirmed it.
Lack of Knowledge
Another hindrance to getting answers to prayers is a lack of
knowledge. The Lord desires to free us from small thinking. He
is bigger than the box we attempt to put Him in. He is the same
yesterday, today and forever (see Heb. 13:8). We can pray and see
the authority of God perform miraculous deeds today.
Sometimes we have tunnel vision. Due to our lack of knowledge,
we are aware only of what is happening around us. If we are
not established in present truth, we may not be aware of some of
the things God is doing around the world (see 2 Pet. 1:12). We
are living in days of restoration. God is restoring much that
occurred during New Testament days. Just because we do not see
it where we live does not mean it is not happening.
We tend to think that revival is not occurring because it is
not happening in our church or city. However, Christianity
today is growing rapidly in many places and remains the largest
religious faith in the world. The church in China is adding
25,000 new members each day. Nigeria is experiencing
phenomenal church growth. Monthly prayer meetings in one area of that
nation include almost half a million people. Redeemed Church
of God is the size of 86 football fields. It is the equivalent to
Denver's Mile High Stadium being filled nearly four times.
The Bible tells us that God's people perish, or are destroyed,
due to a lack of knowledge (see Hos. 4:6). Keeping alert to what
is happening throughout the world in the Body of Christ will
help dismantle our unbelief.
Another thing that hinders answered prayer is disunity.
Throughout history great leaders have understood the power of
unity. Unity can be used for good or evil. The results are
different depending on the intent of the unity. At the tower of Babel,
unity was used for evil purposes:
The Lord said, "Behold, they are one people, and they
all have the same language. And this is what they began
to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be
impossible for them" (Gen. 11:6).
The power of unity caused them to be able to do anything they
proposed, even though it was with evil intent.
Osama bin Laden knows the power of unity. His networking
of the al-Qaeda terrorist cells released a power that was able to
destroy the Twin Towers in New York City on September 11, 2001.
Unity, even for evil purposes, is indeed a powerful force.
When God's people walk in unity, however, the corporate
prayers of the united group releases power to bring positive
change and transformation (see Ps. 133). Dutch Sheets, along
with other writers, tracked how much prayer accompanied the
United States presidential election of 2000.