If I mentioned the name ‘Charles Spurgeon’, many of you would know that I was speaking about a great preacher who lived a long time ago. Some have called Charles Spurgeon the – ‘Prince of Preachers.’ Perhaps there is no preacher who has been quoted more by other preachers than Charles Spurgeon.
Spurgeon is called the Prince of Preachers because of the power and eloquence with which he spoke. He became a pastor when he was only nineteen and during his lifetime he preached nearly 4,000 sermons, plus writing many articles, commentaries and books. Spurgeon regularly produced a written manuscript of each of his sermons and therefore you can still read many of his messages today.
But consider what the ‘Prince of Preachers’ once said –
“I would rather teach one man to pray
than ten men to preach.”
Think about that for a moment. The Prince of Preachers believed that prayer was more important than preaching.
Many of you are also familiar with another pastor named David Jeremiah. In his book of prayer, Dr. Jeremiah wrote –
“I scoured the New Testament some time ago,
looking for things God does in ministry that are not prompted by prayer.
Do you know what I found? Nothing.
I don’t mean I had trouble in finding an item or two;
I mean I found nothing.
Everything God does in the work of ministry,
He does through prayer.” 
No doubt that’s why men like Charles Spurgeon put so much emphasis on the importance of prayer. Often what God does – He does in response to our prayers.
On the one hand, prayer is not complicated. As a matter of fact, Jesus condemned the use of flowery words as well as ‘vain repetitions or empty phrases.’ (see Matthew 6:5-8) The Bible says that is the earnest prayer of a righteous person that accomplishes something. (see James 5:16)
There is another condition that the Bible puts upon our prayers. Our prayers must be in agreement with the will of God.
1 John 5:14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: 15 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.
Last week we saw in our study of the Lord’s Prayer that we should approach our prayers with the desire – ‘thy kingdom come, thy will be done.’ Adrian Rogers used to say –
‘The prayer that gets to Heaven
is the prayer that starts in Heaven.’ 
Prayer is not about us getting our will done in heaven, but getting heaven’s will done here on earth.
How do we know what is the will of God? The will of God is revealed through the Word of God. Prayers that are in the will of God are prayers that are based upon biblical truth and principles. Jesus said –
John 15:7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
What does it mean to abide in Christ and His word abide in us? The word ‘abide’ contains the thought of residency. Sometimes this word is translated as – ‘to remain.’ It’s more than a periodic visit. It is a constant state of existence. Our relationship with Christ affects who we are and how we live. To abide in Christ is to remain in constant communication with Him through the His Spirit, prayer and scripture.
That prayer, the Spirit and the Word of God should go hand in hand should not surprise us. The same Spirit who inspired the Word of God is the same Spirit who guides us in our prayers. Praying in the Spirit means that the Spirit is guiding us for what to pray, and how to pray for it. It has been my experience that often when I am in a true spirit of prayer, the Holy Spirit brings to my mind portions of scripture to guide me. Sometimes I don’t even know where those portions of scripture are found in the Bible; yet the Spirit brings them to my mind in order to guide me to pray according God’s will.
As I have prayed through my preparation of this message, the Spirit has guided me to share with you five important principles for why you and I should incorporate the Word of God into our prayer life. I pray that these principles will be a benefit and a blessing to you.
I. The Word of God Helps to Prepare Our Hearts to Pray
Sometimes I jump right into prayer. Often when I do this, my prayers seem to have very little power. But the best prayer times for me are when I have first spent some meaningful time reading scripture. Reading the Bible elevates my thinking and it encourages my faith.
II. The Word of God Helps to Transform Our Thinking
Meaningful time in the Word of God before we pray will help prepare our hearts to worship God and give us ‘the mind of Christ.’
1 Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.
12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. 13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. 16 For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ. NKJV
In order to pray in a way that pleases God, our thinking often has to be transformed from what is earthly to what is eternal. Paul tells us –
Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
We must allow God to transform our thinking so that we will offer back to Him the kind of prayers that seek His will. Will such praying please God and cause Him to respond? The Bible says –
2 Chronicles 16:9 For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him….
III. The Word of God Helps to Cleanse Us From Our Sin
The Bible speaks of the cleansing power of the Word. (see Ephesians 5:25) John writes-
1 John 1:5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
To confess sin means to say the same thing about the sin as God says about it. The psalmist said –
“If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:” (Psalm 66:18)
Sometimes the reason the Lord is not working is because there’s sin in the camp.
We’re all fighting a spiritual battle with the sin in our flesh and our enemy the devil. I’m fighting the battle and you’re fighting the battle. Pretending that there isn’t a battle – doesn’t help us. Reclassifying sin so that it fits into this world’s way of thinking or perhaps our way of thinking and what we want to do – doesn’t deliver us. Only an honest confession of sin before the God who against we have sinned will bring spiritual cleansing and thus put us in the position where God will hear our prayers and act accordingly.
Psalm 119:9 Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to thy word. 10 With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.
You can interpret that to say that the Word of God will cleanse us from our sins. Paul speaks of the ‘washing of the Word.’ You can also interpret that to say that the Word of God will help us keep clean.
Without incorporating the Word of God into our prayer life, we will begin to condone things that the Bible clearly identifies as sin. We may even be so deceived as to sometimes ask God to bless something His Word calls sin. Obviously such a prayer life is not going to be productive.
IV. The Word of God Can Help Us Tear Down Spiritual Strongholds
In 2 Corinthians 10, Paul refers to something he calls a ‘spiritual stronghold.’ The word ‘stronghold’ refers to a fortress or a castle. In particular, Paul was referring to the ways Satan gains control over an individual’s life. Jesus said that whoever practices sin becomes a slave to that sin. The Bible teaches us that a believer cannot be possessed by the devil; however, the Bible also teaches us that Satan can take control of a believer through an area of un-confessed sin. In Ephesians 4 Paul refers to how bitterness and an unforgiving spirit can ‘give place’ (literally – give power) to the devil to work and operate.
When a sin becomes a stronghold, it means that this particular sin has gotten such a grip on us that it is controlling us. How do we break the grip of sin? By spiritual praying. In regards to tearing down stronghold, Paul writes – “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power (KJV- mighty through God) What kind of spiritual weapons does God give to us in order to help us break free from the grip of sin? J. Vernon McGee used to teach that they were three things:
A. Word of God
B. The Holy Spirit
When you put those three things together, (the truth from the Word of God, the Holy Spirit as our Teacher and Guide, and a heart that is dedicated to doing God’s will) – you’ve got something powerful.
Here is something that I have done in my life at times to help me break free of something that was trying to hold me. I’ve gathered together a group of Bible verses that speak on the area where I am struggling. Then I pray my way through those verses. By that I don’t mean that I just simply read the verse as I am praying. I talk to God about what that verse is teaching me and I knowledge that it is truth and I ask for Him to help me live my life according to that truth.
If there is an area of your life where sin has a hold on you, then you need to get into your Bible and go to God in prayer.
V. The Word of God Assures Us of God’s Power
During the time Charles Spurgeon was preaching in London, there was another great man of God living in Bristol, England. Mueller was about thirty years older than Spurgeon and from things Spurgeon wrote about him, he must have loved and respected Mueller very much. I have read that Mueller on occasions spoke from Spurgeon’s pulpit.
George Mueller is primarily known for three things:
3) Building Orphanages
How did God bring those three things together in this one man? Years ago I read a biography of George Mueller and in it I read that Mueller used to make it a regular habit to read scripture on his knees. What does that mean? It means that whenever Mueller read the Bible, he expected God to speak. And if God spoke, Mueller knew that he had to obey. The Bible says – ‘to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.’ (James 4:17) Mueller didn’t want to sin against God. He wanted to obey God and to have God use him.
One day Mueller read Psalm 68:5 where it says that God is a ‘father to the fatherless…’ When Mueller read that, he knew that it was God’s will for him to take care of orphans and so he began to build orphanages. During his lifetime he care for more than 10,000 orphans. One resource says that Mueller raised millions of dollars for his orphanages without ever asking anyone directly for money. One estimate is over $150 million dollars in today’s currency value. 
Perhaps I should also say that age 70, Mueller stepped down from being a pastor and for the next 17 years he traveled to over 40 countries as a missionary. It is estimated that Mueller preached to over 3 million people in his lifetime.
What was the secret to Mueller’s spiritual success? He based his prayer life upon the truths he found in the word of God. Though like all those who try to serve God, Mueller had more than his fair share of critics, he believed in the power of God to do the impossible and during his lifetime, he saw the impossible happen over and over again.
I firmly believe that the Lord is laying before our church a great challenge. He is calling us to become a people of prayer. I believe that God wants to be glorified through us. How can this happen?
1) We are going to have to determine that doing God’s will is more important than doing our own will.
Some of us are going to have to let go of some things. Some of us are going to have to deal with some sin in our lives. Everyone of us is going to have to bow our knee to King Jesus.
2) We are going to have to exercise some self-discipline so that we may have time to get alone with God in His Word.
We’re not going to know the will of God without the Word of God and to discover God’s will from His Word often requires time alone with God.
3) We are going to have to humble ourselves and pray.
Timothy Keller wrote in his book on prayer –
“Failure to pray is not merely breaking a religious rule,
but failure to treat God as God.” 
God is searching for people who are sincere about honoring Him and doing His will. I pray that we will become that kind of people.
May the Lord bless you as you continue to seek Him in prayer.
 David Jeremiah, Prayer, the Great Adventure (Multnomah, Sisters, OR 1997) 40
 Adrian Rogers, article: Prayer and the Will of God, April 27, 2016, http://www.oneplace.com/ministries/love-worth-finding/read/articles/prayer-and-the-will-of-god-11630.html
 John Piper, sermon: George Mueller’s Strategy for Showing God, April 28, 2016, http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/george-muellers-strategy-for-showing-god
 Timothy Keller, Prayer, Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God (Dutton, New York 2014) 26