Strengthened With Power in Your Inner Being
The transformational power that God is offering has the potential to change our lives, our emotions, our fears, and our priorities in a way that transcends human experience.
Recorded by Brother Chris Sales
There appears to be a discrepancy between the prayer guarantees promised by God in Scripture and our own lived-out prayer experiences.
Here are some amazingly generous and extravagant prayer guarantees:
Yet, despite the explicit assurance in these passages, we find our own experiences do not always reflect these guarantees.
How, Then Do We Reconcile These Realities?
Some people suggest the solution is that God will always answer our prayers. It’s just that the answer may be “No!” This solution, however, does not conform to the context or syntax of the prayer guarantee passages and a “No” cannot be honestly or by exposition inserted into the passages.
If we agree that only positive answers and results can be read into these prayer guarantee passages, how do we reconcile their content with our own prayer experiences? Speaking for myself, the consideration of the prayer guarantees has transformed how I interact with God, read His word, and live in Christ.
Here I am going to do something a little unusual for a study series and provide the conclusion at the start of our investigation. I believe, if we have the conclusion in our minds, we can more effectively evaluate the very well-known passages we will unpack as we progress through the rest of the study.
- The prayer guarantees are real, beneficial, and powerful and can be relied upon in our life now.
- The prayer guarantees need to be applied to the intended scope.
- The scope of these guarantees is the “inner man” (or inner being).
- God’s new covenant and new creation priorities are focused primarily on the Inner being.
- The prayer guarantee scope includes spiritual insight and perception, courage, comfort, strength, peace, wisdom, understanding, endurance, and patience.
The Way Forward
Personal recalibration of this divine priority will help us to empower our prayer lives and has the potential to revolutionize our entire life focus on Christ.
Our prayer preoccupation can often be on the physical externals of life’s circumstances–such things as health, employment, relationships, safety, finances, and projects. It appears life circumstances, however, are not covered by the prayer guarantees, and although prayed for, may not be responded to in the way we wish. Nevertheless, within our life experiences, God is still very much at work and involved.
Personal recalibration has the potential to revolutionize our entire life focus on Christ.
The following Tables will help illustrate the conclusions reached. (Biblical substantiation later supplied.). Paul’s famous prayer request for God to remove his physical circumstantial problem is illustrative here:
Let’s now consider the relevant Biblical evidence. We will present below some Biblical interpretative principles and related Biblical case studies that will help unpack this topic.
Interpretive Principle 1:
Physical examples and language which describe God’s prayer response is actually used to illustrate internal transformational results.
Case Study: If you have faith as a mustard seed (Luke 17).
There are several verses where Christ appears to say that a believer can perform some incredible physical feat because of the power of prayer. These include plucking up a large tree by the roots and moving it into the sea (Luke 17:6), moving mountains (Matt 17:20), casting a mountain into the sea (Matt 21:21).
These physical results are presented as prayer request responses, “it will happen, whatever you ask in prayer you will receive it.” (Matt 21:21-22 NIV).
Now, even a surface reading will prompt us to consider the language more closely. These are undoubtedly exaggerated acts: moving mountains and ripping up large trees. Also, we have no Biblical example of any of these events ever being achieved literally or physically by the apostles.
The context of all these citations will give us the answer. Let’s focus on the reference in Luke 17.
Jesus has just told his disciples to forgive a brother if he repents (v. 3), even if he sins against them seven times in one day (v. 4). This commandment prompts the disciple’s response in the very next verse (v. 5) increase our faith. Why this response?
To forgive in such a manner went totally against their entire worldview. Their whole upbringing and cultural conditioning had molded their thinking in the opposite direction. The previous words of Jesus “You have heard that it was said, eye for an eye” (Matt 5:38) not only reflected their community’s norms but also their understanding of Scripture itself (Exod 21:24, Lev 24:20).
This revolutionary and counter-cultural teaching of Jesus had challenged them to their core, as it should us. The values and attitudes so deeply engrained in their thinking caused them to struggle to understand and perform what Jesus had said.
To transform their attitudes and thinking would take a miracle akin to a huge tree (with its Jewish cultural root system) being ripped up and thrown into the sea (v. 6).
We too have values, attitudes, prejudices, outlooks, and responses that reflect our cultural (including ecclesial), family and community conditioning that may need transformation. This metamorphosis is an internal miracle to which the prayer guarantee applies.
The takeout interpretive principle we want to illustrate here is that the physical descriptions of miraculously answered prayers refer to internal transformation.
Interpretive Principle 2: Extravagant and generous answers to prayer in other New Testament passages focus on our inner being.
Case Study: Strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being (Ephesians 3:16-20)
Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think. (v. 20).
Scope and Application:
Inner being (v. 16)
Your hearts (v. 17)
Spiritual comprehension (v. 18)
Knowledge that surpasses human knowledge (v. 19)
Being filled with the fullness of God (v. 19)
The power at work within us (v. 20)
what is achieved is directly attributable to God’s response
This passage is a prayer (v. 14-16). When reading through this prayer, you are struck by the priority and emphasis that is very much focused on the inner being. The extravagant offer of God doing “abundantly more than we can ask or think” (v. 20) once again applies to inner transformation. Also, the passage strongly implies that what is achieved is beyond the ability, intelligence, and mental powers of the recipient but is directly attributable to God’s response.
Case Study: If any of you lacks wisdom let him ask God. (Jas 1:5).
Ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. (v. 5).
The fact that it is “given” by God would strongly indicate it is not something solely achieved by one’s own mental abilities and cognitive skills. God is very much responsible and involved in this event.
Scope and Application:
This passage refers to a transformed outlook that experiences joy while in the middle of trial (v. 2) and the value and benefit of trial to enhance and develop patience and spiritual maturity (v. 4). These are no doubt supernatural and counter-intuitive perspectives.
This prayer is not for the trial to be removed or reduced, but for the inner being to be infused with a wisdom that transcends normal human reactions and responses.
God is described here as giving “generously” (Greek: bountifully and copiously with single-minded commitment). Note the emphatic “It will be given him” (v. 5) which again highlights God’s unwavering commitment to answer such prayers if asked in faith.
Interpretive Principle 3:
God’s promise to be with us can co-exist with, and empower us to transcend, the experience of negative external and physical life events.
There are many references to God being with us in our lives and never forsaking us. This reality can sometimes be confused with God removing or resolving adverse life circumstances. The following references will show that these two things, God’s care, and negative life events, can co-exist in the life of a believer.
Here we see a promise of divine help and concern co-existing with persecution. Note that the verse does not say do not fear what man could have done to me but rather, what man can do to me. The fact that God is with us does not stop men from doing things to us.
God’s promise makes us confident He is with us and cares for us even as we experience negative treatment from men. We may conclude that while God may not step in and stop the physical or psychological abuse, He will help us by removing our fear and giving us courage, comfort, joy, and consolation even while experiencing such things.
The fact God is working in our lives does not insulate us from negative experiences. This chapter contains other powerful assurances of divine help; “if God is for us who can be against us” (v. 31) and “we are more than conquerors” (v. 37) Yet, the chapter goes on to detail the life consequences God’s people will experience, including being killed (v. 36), death (v. 38), tribulation, persecution, famine, nakedness, famine or sword (v. 35).
It is in all these things (v. 37) that God is working in our lives, not by removing them from us but while we are experiencing them.
If God is helping and working for us, yet we are still experiencing these negative life experiences, the answer must be found within the inner realm–the inner being.
Not Just Theory
When I have discussed this subject with friends and family, some have been disappointed. The fact that God is focusing on the inner being may appear to be “not real” or “wishy-washy” compared to the physical and external focus we may desire from Him.
However, it is not our intention to reduce or limit prayer in any way. Just because the prayer guarantee may not cover something does not mean we should not bring our petitions before God. Scripture is full of such prayers. Some were answered, and some were not.
The reality is, however, that although this focus may be on the internal and intangible, it is no less real and powerful. The transformational power that God is offering has the potential to change our lives, our emotions, our fears, and our priorities in a way that transcends human experience.
The experience of early believers can illustrate the genuine effects of such prayers. When they were thrown to the lions by the Roman empire to die a horrible and painful death, they displayed superhuman courage. Though they were not saved from the lions, God was with them and comforted them, none-the-less:
The power of prayer in our lives is just as real today as it was for them—Christ guarantees it.
Gosford Ecclesia, NSW
1 All Scriptural citations are taken from the English Standard Version, unless otherwise noted.
2 Smith, H. The World’s Religions, Chapter 8: Christianity, 1991, Harper Collins, New York City, NY