power of prayer
The idea that power is inherent in prayer is a very popular one amongst Church Folks. According to the Bible, the power of prayer is quite simply the power or ability of God, who hears and answers prayers of His Children whenever they call unto Him Jeremiah 33:3; Exodus 3:7. Consider the following:
1) The Lord God Almighty can do all things; there is nothing impossible for Him (Luke 1:37).
2) The Lord God Almighty invites His people to pray to Him Jer.33:3; Matt.7:7. Prayer to God should be made persistently as the Lord Jesus pointed out in the Book of Luke 18:1, with thanksgiving Philippians 4:6, in faith Heb. 11:6; James 1:5, within the will of God Matthew 6:10, for the glory of God John 14:13-14, and from a heart right with God James 5:16.
3) There is no doubt that the Lord God Almighty hears and answers the prayers of His children. He commands us to pray, and He promises to listen when we do. One of the unlimited examples of that was David’s testimonies “In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears” (Psalm 18:6).
4) The Lord God Almighty answers prayer. “I call on you, O God, for you will answer me” (Psalm 17:6). “The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles” (Psalm 34:17).
Another popular idea is that the amount of faith we have determines whether or not God will answer our prayers. However, sometimes the Lord answers our prayers in spite of our own lack of faith. In Acts 12, the church prays for Peter’s release from prison (v. 5), and God answers their prayer (vv. 7-11). Peter goes to the door of the prayer meeting and knocks, but those who are praying refuse at first to believe that it is really Peter. They prayed he would be released, but they failed to expect an answer to their prayers.
The power of prayer does not flow from us; it is not special words we say or the special way we say them or even how often we say them. The power of prayer is not based on a certain direction we face or a certain position of our bodies. The power of prayer does not come from the use of artifacts or icons or candles or beads. The power of prayer comes from the omnipotent One who hears our prayers and answers them. Prayer places us in contact with Almighty God, and we should expect almighty results, whether or not He chooses to grant our petitions or deny our requests. Whatever the answer to our prayers, the God to whom we pray is the source of the power of prayer, and He can and will answer us, according to His perfect will and timing. This will lead us to the question of what is Prayer?
The most basic definition of Prayer is “talking to God.” Prayer is not meditation or passive reflection; it is direct address to God. It is the communication of the human soul with the Lord who created the soul. Prayer is the primary way for the believer in Jesus Christ to communicate his emotions and desires with God and to fellowship with God.
Prayer can be audible or silent, private or public, formal or informal. All prayer must be offered in faith (James 1:6), in the name of the Lord Jesus (John 16:23), and in the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:26). As the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia puts it, “Christian prayer in its full New Testament meaning is prayer addressed to God as Father, in the name of Christ as Mediator, and through the enabling grace of the indwelling Spirit” (“Prayer” by J. C. Lambert). The wicked have no desire to pray (Psalm 10:4), but the children of God have a natural desire to pray (Luke 11:1).
Prayer is described in the Bible as seeking God’s favor (Exodus 32:11), pouring out one’s soul to the Lord (1 Samuel 1:15), crying out to heaven (2 Chronicles 32:20), drawing near to God (Psalm 73:28, KJV), and kneeling before the Father (Ephesians 3:14).
Paul wrote, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6–7). Worry about nothing; pray about everything.
Everything? Yes, God wants us to talk with Him about everything. How often should we pray? The biblical answer is “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). We should keep a running conversation going with God all day long. Some find the ACTS formula of prayer helpful, but there is really no special formula for how to pray in the Bible. We should just do it. We can pray under any and all circumstances. Prayer develops our relationship with God and demonstrates our trust and utter dependence upon Him.
Prayer is the Christian’s way of communicating with God. We pray to praise God and thank Him and tell Him how much we love Him. We pray to enjoy His presence and tell Him what is going on in our lives. We pray to make requests and seek guidance and ask for wisdom. God loves this exchange with His children, just as we love the exchange we have with our children. Fellowship with God is the heart of prayer. Too often we lose sight of how simple prayer is really supposed to be.
When we make petitions to God, we let God know exactly where we stand and what we would like to see happen. In our prayers, we must admit that God is greater than we are and ultimately knows what is best in any given situation (Romans 11:33–36). God is good and asks us to trust Him. In prayer, we say, essentially, “Not my will, but your will be done.” The key to answered prayer is praying according to the will of God and in accordance with His Word. Prayer is not seeking our own will but seeking to align ourselves with the will of God more fully (1 John 5:14–15; James 4:3).
The Bible contains many examples of prayer and plenty of exhortations to pray (see Luke 18:1; Romans 12:12; and Ephesians 6:18). God’s house is to be a house of prayer (Mark 11:17), and God’s people are to be people of prayer: “Dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love” (Jude 1:20–21)
How can I have my prayers answered by God?
Many people believe answered prayer is God granting a prayer request that is offered to Him. If a prayer request is not granted, it is understood as an “unanswered” prayer. However, this is an incorrect understanding of prayer. God answers every prayer that is lifted to Him. Sometimes God answers “no” or “wait.” God only promises to grant our prayers when we ask according to His will. “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him” (1 John 5:14-15).
What does it mean to pray according to God’s will? Praying according to God’s will is praying for things that honor and glorify God and/or praying for what the Bible clearly reveals God’s will to be. If we pray for something that is not honoring to God or not God’s will for our lives, God will not give what we ask for. How can we know what God’s will is? God promises to give us wisdom when we ask for it. James 1:5 proclaims, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” A good place to start is 1 Thessalonians 5:12-24, which outlines many things that are God’s will for us. The better we understand God’s Word, the better we will know what to pray for (John 15:7). The better we know what to pray for, the more often God will answer “yes” to our requests.
The story of “Adam’s rib” is found in the book of Genesis, precisely Genesis 2:18–24 tells the well-known account of how God created the first woman, Eve, by removing a “rib” from Adam’s body and fashioning it into the woman. The creation account clearly indicates that God used Adam’s rib to create Eve instead of making her from the dust of the ground as He had done for Adam earlier. The question also arises as to why God created woman out of Adam’s rib. God apparently had formed male and female animals separately, but the female human was originally part of man—Adam said, “She shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man” (Genesis 2:23).
God used Adam’s rib to form Eve to show that they were actually the same created being, two halves of a whole. The female was not created as a separate being, second to the male. She was formed as part of the initial man, in order to be a “helper suitable” for the male (Genesis 2:18). While Adam was in a divinely induced sleep, God “took one of the man’s ribs and . . . made a woman” (Genesis 2:21–22). Eve was brought into being to strengthen and powerfully help Adam; she was made from the same “stuff,” and she was every bit as perfect a creation as man and every bit as patterned after God’s image and likeness (Genesis 1:27).
The woman made of Adam’s rib was designed to be a “suitable helper” for Adam (Genesis 2:20). The Hebrew phrase is translated “help meet” in the KJV and “companion who corresponded” in the NET. It is not synonymous with assistant, servant, minion, or subordinate. The Hebrew phrase, ’ezer kenegdow, in all other instances in the Bible refers to powerful and extensive aid and support. In most cases, the phrase was used to depict dominant military forces or armed men. Other passages, including Deuteronomy 33:7, 29, and Exodus 18:4, use the same phrase to discuss the potent interventions and deliverances of God Himself. Woman, therefore, was created as a complement to man, as an integral part of man, and as a powerful and influential companion for man.
Furthermore, the Hebrew word translated “suitable,” kenegdow, carries much more meaning than simply “fit” or “appropriate.” This word also means “opposite or contrasting.” This implies that the two beings were designed to work and fit together perfectly, not just physically but in all ways. The strengths of each compensated for the weaknesses of the other. It was “not good” for the man to be alone (Genesis 2:18), but, together, Adam and Eve were something far stronger and more magnificent than either of them could have been alone. Adam had to lose a rib, but he gained so much more.
Why did God use Adam’s rib? A closer examination of the Hebrew also reveals another surprising element of the story. The Hebrew word translated “rib” in Genesis 2 is tsela. The only other instance of the English word rib in the Bible occurs in Daniel 7:5, but the Hebrew word used there is different. In other passages where tsela or its variants are used, the word is translated “side.” For example, in Exodus 25, 27, and 35, the words tselo (variant) and tselot (plural) are used to refer to the “sides” of the Ark of the Covenant or the “sides” of the altar. In 2 Samuel 16:13, David encounters a cursing Shimei moving along the side (tsela) of a hill. In these contexts, translating the word tsela as “rib” would not fit.
This raises the possibility that Eve could have been fashioned of more than just Adam’s rib. In the Genesis 2 passage, tsela could actually be translated as Adam’s “side,” rather than Adam’s “rib.” If the appropriate translation is that God removed Adam’s side, how much of his side did God remove? It is possible that Eve was constructed literally from half of Adam. This would bring added meaning to Adam’s declaration that Eve was “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (Genesis 2:23).
Whether God created Eve from Adam’s rib or from his whole side, He accomplished the act in such a way that showed the woman was to complement and complete man in the integral union of marriage. Woman was created to be “beside” man, not beneath or above him. In salvation, man is no more “worthy” and woman is no less a citizen of God’s kingdom. “There is neither . . . male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). They stand side-by-side as fellow “heirs . . . of the gracious gift of life” (1 Peter 3:7).
“How was the woman a helper suitable for the man (Genesis 2:18)?”
In Genesis 2:18, we read of the one thing that was not declared “good” in all of God’s creation: “Then the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone.’” The same verse includes God’s solution: “I will make him a helper fit for him.” Eve was the solution to Adam’s deficiency.
Two Hebrew terms in this verse provide important information to better understand the creation of Eve as the first woman. The word translated “helper” is the Hebrew term ‘ezer. This word is even used of God, sometimes, noting that He is our Helper (Psalm 115:9-11). We would certainly not view God, as a Helper, as subservient to humans, nor should we understand the role of “helper” in Genesis 2:18 as a position of subservience. The concept of an “ideal partner” seems to convey the thought best.
The second important Hebrew word in this verse, translated “fit” is kenegdow. It literally means “according to the opposite of him.” In other words, the focus is on an appropriate match. Eve was not created above or below Adam; she was complementary. The animals Adam had named each had an appropriate companion (Genesis 2:20), and Adam was given a fitting companion as well. Eve was “just right” for him.
Further, God’s statement that it was not good for man to be alone implies that Adam was lonely and incomplete by himself. He had been created for relationship, and it is impossible to have relationship alone. With the creation of Eve, Adam experienced the joy of love for another person.
The Bible is unique in its depiction of women’s valued status as a complementary companion. No other ancient text from the Middle East offers commentary on the creation of women. It is in the Bible that we learn of the important role women have had since the beginning of human existence. Both man and woman were made in God’s image, according to Genesis 1:27, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
The apostle Paul refers to Genesis when he says, “A man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh” (Ephesians 5:31). Husband and wife are to live as one, united in love for God and for one another, modeling the love Christ has for His bride, the Church.
“Is the Adam and Eve story to be understood literally?”
Let us assume for a moment that the Adam and Eve story is not to be understood literally. What would be the result? Would Christianity remain essentially the same with a non-literal understanding of the story of Adam and Eve? No. In fact, it would have serious implications for virtually every tenet and doctrine of the Christian faith. If Adam was not a real man, then sin did not enter the world through one man as Romans 5:12states. How, then, did sin enter world? Further, if the New Testament is wrong about how sin entered the world, what else is it wrong about? If Romans 5:12 is wrong, how do we know that the entirety of Romans 5:8–15 is not wrong? If the story of Adam and Eve is not to be taken literally—if they did not really exist—then there was no one to rebel, there was no fall into sin. Satan, the great deceiver, would like nothing better than for people to believe that the Bible should not be taken literally and that the story of the fall of man is a myth. Why? Because once we start denying parts of the Bible, we lose our trust in the Bible. Why should we believe anything God’s Word says if we cannot trust everything that it says?
Jesus taught that God created one man and one woman (Mark 10:6) and mentions Abel, a son of Adam and Eve in Luke 11:51. Was Jesus wrong in His beliefs? Or did Jesus know there were no literal Adam and Eve and He was simply accommodating His teaching to the beliefs of the people (i.e., lying)? If Jesus is wrong in His beliefs, He is not God. If Jesus is intentionally deceiving people, He is sinning and therefore cannot be the Savior (1 Peter 1:19).
That is why this is such a serious issue. To deny the literalness of Adam and Eve is to place oneself in opposition to Jesus and the apostle Paul. If one has the audacity to claim he is right and Jesus and Paul are wrong, then Jesus is a sinner, not God and not the Savior; the apostle Paul is a false prophet; and the Bible is not inspired, inerrant, or trustworthy.
The Bible clearly presents Adam and Eve as literal people who existed in a literal Garden of Eden. They literally rebelled against God, they literally believed Satan’s lie, and they were literally cast out of the Garden (Genesis 3:24). They had literal children, all of whom inherited the sin nature, and that nature was passed down to succeeding generations to this very day. Fortunately, God promised a literal Savior to redeem us from that sin nature (Genesis 3:15). That Savior is Jesus Christ, called the “last Adam” (1 Corinthians 15:45), who died on a literal cross and literally rose again. Those who believe in Christ will have literal salvation and spend eternity in a literal heaven.
Christians who deny the story of Adam and Eve essentially deny their own faith. Rejecting the literal interpretation of the Bible’s historical narratives is a slippery slope. If Adam and Eve did not exist, then were Cain and Abel not real? Did Seth exist, and did he father a godly line that led all the way to Abraham and eventually to Jesus Himself? Where in Luke’s genealogy (Luke 3:23–38) do the names stop referring to literal people and start referring to mythical characters? To dismiss Adam and Eve as non-literal is to deny the accuracy of Luke’s gospel, cast aspersions on Moses’ record, and remove the foundation of the rest of the Bible.
God’s Word claims to be true (Psalm 119:160). Jesus Christ declared God’s Word to be truth (John 17:17). All of God’s Word is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16-17). These declarations include the biblical account of Adam and Eve.