The great movements of God have had their origin and energy in and were shaped by prayers of men.
Answered prayer is exciting
Answered prayer is exciting. It is answered prayer that puts life and excitement into daily prayer times and makes it an event to anticipate. Answered prayer is never mundane or boring. Prayer of itself does not change people’s lives but answered prayer does. It is answered prayer that obtains the promise and sees the miracle.
People sought Jesus not because He was a pray-er but because His prayers were answered. His prayers healed individuals, brought the dead back to life, obtained miracles, fed hungry crowds and saved His disciples from certain death. His prayers were powerful, effective and life changing. People flocked to Him to have their prayers answered.
Jesus was confident that His prayers would be answered. He was confident that all of His followers’ prayers would be answered too (Mt 21:22). Two of His disciples Peter and John walked up to temple to have their daily prayer time. Sitting at the gate of the temple was a beggar unable to walk, asking for money. Peter was so confident that his prayer would be answered that he looked at him and said “silver and gold I don’t have but what I do have I give you in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk”(Acts 3:6). Peter lifted the man up and he ran into the temple, rejoicing, miraculously healed.
Moses continually saw answered prayer. His prayers released his nation from the domination of a cruel Egyptian Pharaoh. His prayers saved a million people from starvation, thirst, adversity, corruption and war. It was said of Moses that He knew the ways of God but Israel only ever saw the acts of God (Ps 103:7). Sadly only a few of Israel’s leaders ever truly understood God and saw miraculous acts themselves.
Jesus and Moses had one thing in common even though they lived thousands of years apart. They both knew the ways of God. Jesus said he never did anything unless he saw His Father do it (Jn 5:19). Jesus passed this knowledge on to His followers and they received outstanding answers to their prayers.
An understanding of the ways of God is essential to answered prayer. The promise of answered prayer is in knowing His ways (1 Jn 5:4) Many Christians struggle with unanswered prayer because they are confused and do not understand how God operates in individual lives.
Understanding the ways of God
God is a “just” God. His nature is unchangeable. His justice demands that every person’s actions both good and bad, be judged resulting in either reward or punishment. Since nobody is perfect people are constantly under the negative impact of the judgment of God. Many think of God’s judgment as something catastrophic like earthquakes, cyclones, or tsunamis. That can be the judgment of God but it is often much more subtle. In Romans the first chapter Gods declares that judgement is the “giving over “of a person to his or her sin. The more a person sins, the more they come under bondage to it. This is also true of righteousness. The more good you do the more you will serve it (Rom 6:16).
Judgment can be summed up in Galatians 6:7-9 “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.  For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.  And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart”. We are constantly having times and seasons of judgment in our lives, reaping what we sow.
If God was only Just, all of us would be doomed without hope. However, God is a merciful God (Ps 136) and His mercy overcomes judgment. God declares in James 2:13 that “Mercy triumphs over judgment.” The first thing you must do in prayer is to ask for mercy. You must break the judgement of God over your life so that the blessing of God and answered prayer will flow. Mercy was a common request in prayer, “Help me, O Lord my God: O save me according to thy mercy:” (Psalm 109:26).
The power of mercy in prayer
There is not a person who did not ask Jesus for mercy who did not obtain it. Matthew 9:27-30 refers to the incident of when Jesus departed from a certain place and two blind men followed Him, and began crying out, “Son of David, have mercy on us.” And when Jesus came into the house, the blind men came to Him. Jesus said, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” and they said “Yes, Lord.” Jesus then touched their eyes and said “According to your faith, let it be unto you.”
What was their faith in? What was their appeal to Jesus for? Did they ask Him for healing? No! They asked Him for mercy! Why is that? It is because they understood the consequences of sin. They understood that they needed to appeal for His mercy.
Again in Matthew 15:22 a woman from the region of Canaan came and cried out to him saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David, my daughter is severely demon possessed”. The woman was not even a Jew. What did she appeal to? Mercy! Jesus declared that her faith saved her daughter. What was her faith in? It was in God’s mercy. Your faith must rest in His mercy. Faith can be placed in God’s mercy because God has promised mercy to all who ask for it.
King David understood this principle well. In Psalm 4:1 He says “Have mercy on me and hear my prayer” and in Psalm 5:7 he says “As for me, I will come into your house in the multitude of Your mercy, I will come.” And again in Psalm 6:2 “Have mercy on me O Lord, for I am weak, O Lord. Heal me, for my bones are troubled.” What was his appeal to? What was his prayer? Mercy!
In Matthew 17:15 a man came to Jesus and asked, “Lord have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely, and often falls into the fire, and often into the water. Lord, have mercy on my son”. What did he appeal to? Mercy! Jesus disciples had tried to cure Him. Jesus rebuked His disciples’ lack of faith, but this man’s faith was in God and that He would have mercy.
In Matthew 20:30 we see other blind people coming to Jesus and saying, “Have mercy on us, Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us. Have mercy on us Lord, again.” They cried out again and again, “Lord, have mercy.” Jesus replied “Your faith has healed you.” What was their faith in? What did they appeal to? Mercy!
In Mark 10:47 when Blind Bartimaeus heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth coming down the road, he cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” Many warned him to be quiet, but he cried out all the more enthusiastically, “Son of David, have mercy on me.’
Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” What was his faith in? Mercy! When Jesus walked on earth and people got miraculously healed; when sin was taken away and people received forgiveness; when in afflictions they received total and complete healing, in their prayer they appealed to mercy. They had faith in God’s mercy.
There is not a single occasion with Jesus that when a person appealed to God’s mercy, that they didn’t receive. Whether it was the corrupt tax collector who appealed in the temple, or the Gentile woman in the street appealing for her demon tormented daughter to a king, David, in his palace; everyone who came to God on the basis of mercy, received. It is because God has chosen that every person shall come to Him through mercy. Heb 4:16 declares His intentions “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need”.
It is a priority that you pray to God for mercy for families, friends, community and the nation. God is looking for intercessors who will stand in the gap and ask for mercy for others because mercy overcomes judgement.
God is looking for people who will activate mercy on behalf of others.
Pau1 instructs Timothy about prayer saying, “first of all, that prayers, supplications, intercessions be made for all men, kings, governors, those in authority, so as you might live peacefully on the earth. For it is God’s desire that all men might be saved.” The first thing, the very first thing that is going to bring everyone unto salvation is prayer and intercession for every person. Someone must stand in the gap!
Ezekiel 22:30 (NKJV)
“So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one.”
God pronounced judgement over all Israel. God looked for a person to build a wall, to build a hedge. He looked for one person, a covenant person, a man like Moses or Abraham, a person who would petition God and stand in the gap. He looked for someone to cry out to Him, but He found none. Therefore He had to bring judgement. The judgement came upon the people. God didn’t want to bring judgement but sin demanded judgement and the law demanded judgement. God said that if He could find a person who could activate mercy, one who could appeal for mercy, He would have stopped it. But He found none.
Today, God is looking for men and women who will stand in the gap for the people of your nation’s cities, churches and families. Who will stand in the gap and make petition?
Sin demands judgement but mercy overcomes judgement
James 5:15 talks about the person who is sick, “if any among you is sick, let the elders go there, anoint them with oil and the prayer of faith will raise him up, and if he has sinned, it will be forgiven.” James is saying, if it is sin that has caused the sickness, its sin will be forgiven. “Therefore confess your sins one to another and pray for one another, that your sins may be forgiven.” People’s lives are dominated by what they yield themselves to. Everyone commits sin and communities are lost because of it. All are under the same condemnation, under the same judgement which is pouring out non stop on people. How do you stop it? You must bring God’s mercy down. Release it over the community and pray that the truth of it is activated in every house.
Mercy and truth work together in prayer
In Psalm 25:10 God says “All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep His covenant and His testimonies”. Mercy and truth work together. Mercy alone will not eradicate the problem of sin out of a person’s life. God declares in Proverbs 16:6 that “By mercy and truth iniquity is purged” If you were only to receive mercy then your sins would be forgiven but you would continue in the error of your ways never finding freedom. You would have a life caught in a cycle of sin, judgement, mercy, forgiveness only to sin again and renew the cycle of sin and judgment. You would be living on a tormented treadmill of life, getting nowhere.
God’s salvation is not just forgiveness or only being given the free gift of righteousness which is called justification. It is freedom from sin. It is the ability to make the right choices which is true freedom. This freedom from the power of sin is often called sanctification. Sanctification is the power to choose that which is right. Its fruit is obedience to God.
How judgement and truth operate
The consequence of the judgment of God on your sin is not only the giving of yourself over to your sin or the helplessness to be free from sin, but the deceiving of your mind.
In Psalm 81:11 God announced Israel’s sin. "But My people would not heed My voice, and Israel would have none of Me.” Then in the next verse He pronounced His judgement. “So I gave them over to their own stubborn heart to walk in their own counsels”. God’s judgement was simple. It was deception! When you sin you bring deception on yourself. You cut yourself off from God’s wisdom. You become cut off from truth.
The apostle Paul confirms this principle in Romans 1:28 “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;” In fact you become so deceived that you think you are wise, not realising how foolish you are. Paul observes this condition in verse twenty-two saying “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. Again in Ephes. 4:17-18 Paul notes this principle of judgement “This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind,  having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart;
Mercy allows for truth to come
When you obtain mercy from God through prayer whether it is for yourself or another you release truth over yourself and others. In fact the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth (Jn 16:13) When you release mercy, you release the Holy Spirit to do His work in salvation.
Jesus taught in John 16; 8-11 that when the Spirit of Truth comes “He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:  of sin, because they do not believe in Me;  of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more;  of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.”
Truth stops the judgment of deception, the judgement of delusion. God wants to find someone who will activate mercy on the behalf of the people. Where truth can come and be released. This works!
Answered prayer in history
In the New Hebrides, a small group prayed through with God in prayer for their community. They prayed for mercy, and then, truth came. At the very same moment, every light in every house was on and every man and woman was on their knees, and the convicting power of the Holy Spirit shook the community. Revival came to that community because mercy was activated.
Finney said that “If I can bring the spirit of supplication into any community, I can have revival. To the measure of people giving themselves to the Spirit of supplication, is the measure of our revival”. He said, “I am amazed at how quickly people are converted, when I make them the subject of my prayer.” Finney appealed for mercy through prayer.
Finney and his intercessor Father Nash began to cry out to God for His mercy over the city they were in. They prayed for mercy and truth to be released. There was a farmer 50 miles from town. This farmer believed he had a prosperous and good life and everything was okay. He was under delusion, but God released the spirit of mercy over him when they prayed. Truth came to him and he fell out onto the road on his knees. He wept before God as he saw his sin. He confessed his sin, and was born again. Mercy was activated and truth came and he was converted.
This is the process you will see in revival. It is the same prayer. The focus of your prayer must be with God since judgement comes from God and flows out. You have the power to stop it. The focus of your prayer is not the demonic. It is not a demonic problem you face but a sin problem. God is not weak. Prayer is not a contest of strength between God and demons. The needed breakthrough in prayer is not a breakthrough of you getting strong enough to break demonic power. The breakthrough is the breaking through into God to obtain mercy and truth.
Testimonies of answered prayer
David Harney was in a church in North Queensland and was talking about a lady who had been in the church for seven years. A year earlier, she left and joined another religion. They began to ask God for His mercy and truth on her life. It took one and a half minutes of praying to release His mercy and to release His truth. They thanked the Lord that it was done. That was Thursday afternoon, by Saturday afternoon, she called her pastor after being away one year. She said of the last two days, “I cannot sleep; I have seen the error of what I have been in.” With tears in her eyes, she asked if she could come back to church. The Pastor asked her publicly to renounce the false religion and ask the church to forgive her. She did it and she has been restored.
David prayed the same prayer for a Zimbabwean man. He was 40 years of age. His father was a Uniting Church pastor, retired, handing out Gideon Bibles and had been praying for his son for a long time. He said “I am getting old, and I hate the thought of dying without my son coming back to the Lord. We are estranged, he’s away from the Lord and it’s breaking my heart”. They prayed the same prayer (mercy and truth) for his son at 5.20pm. At six o’clock within 40 minutes he was on the phone to his mum, “where’s Dad? I’ve got to talk to him”. The next day he called his Dad and they wept and restored their relationship. He gave his life back to Christ, and is in church today. In 40 minutes, one prayer and he was saved. You can obtain mercy every time you ask for it, then truth will come and set you free.
In Bowen, David went to Morning Prayer with a local pastor, and they started bringing mercy over all the families of the church those who had left backslidden and the like. They named them by name. People started coming back in the first week, the second and the third. The first man back had not been to church for two years. Within the week he was there. He was so touched that every day he never left the church for a month. He just stayed there all day long. The second week, his wife came, the third week, his family came, the fourth week, his father. In all the years he had been coming to church, he could never get his dad saved. The fourth week, his dad was saved in church.
David was in Tasmania with a couple of local pastors. A year earlier one of their leaders of their church walked out of the church in discouragement and then went on drugs. He had a beautiful young wife and child but he walked out on them and left his ministry, and his faith. One of the pastors went to see him but this leader locked himself in a toilet for three hours. Another time when he went to see him, he jumped a six foot fence in an effort to get away from him. He refused to talk to him. He was separated from his wife and family. She was in the meeting, and they prayed for him, the prayer of agreement and they asked for mercy that truth would come. The next day, he was saved. He gave his life back to Christ and was restored.
His mother was so deeply touched that in Devonport, there was a lady who was married with children, who walked out on her marriage and went off to another town. She was separated from her church, husband and family. His mother said, “If it works so powerfully for my son it work for this lady”. They held hands, prayed the same way, appealing for mercy and truth. Within one week, the lady was back in town, back with her husband, back in church. .
A plumber came to David with tears in his eyes. His wife left him and had just run off with her boss. He was not saved. David started to fast immediately for this girl and asked God for his mercy, to open her eyes. She drove six hours from Mackay and had arrived in Innisfail. You know what she did. She rang up her husband and said, “I don’t know what happened, somehow all of a sudden, I saw what I was doing.” Do you know she came back to her husband, the same day she left! Their marriage was restored and today they have children and are still together. One prayer for God’s mercy in her life was is all it took.
Ok it is a new term but it works. You can pastor which is simply shepherding the flock your family, friends, workmates, the next door neighbours or your church through prayer. You can pray for people and have your own revival. Who can you appeal mercy for? Every time you can come to God with confidence and appeal for mercy, you will have it. You activate mercy on your life and the life of those closest to you.
One Small Condition
To live under the mercy of God you must demonstrate mercy to others. “Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy” (Mt 5: 7). Since you are asking God to judge others in mercy you must let Him be the judge and not judge others, “Judge not lest you be judged” (Mt 7:1) Living under mercy requires you to forgive others and be non-judgemental (Lk 6:37). It requires ceasing from criticizing and trusting in Him to perform His work His way. He is the lord of all.You receive in direct proportion plus a little more to what you give out. Jesus said, "Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given”(Mark 4:24). Receiving mercy yourself is conditional to you giving it. Giving mercy to others ensures you are living in the abundance of His mercy.
Praying for mercy reverses the penalties of judgement and releases the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth to work in our lives and others. Finally we have keys to answered prayer.
We need to pray for mercy for ourselves, our family and others. When we reverse the judgements against us through asking for His mercy we open one of the major causes of the hindrances to God’s blessing and answered prayer.
Our next chapter will open another aspect of prayer pasturing which will help you have more breakthroughs in prayer and prayer pastoring.
By Ps Peter Earle.