No Prayer, No Power (John Piper)
“This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.” (Mark 9:29)
“Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” (Mark 14:38)
I recently rearranged my study at home. But I did not remove the prayer corner or the prayer bench. I made it more private. All I have ever read and experienced teaches me that deep spiritual influence for the good of sinners and the glory of God comes from men and women who give themselves to prayer and meditation.
I just read, for example, about the secret of Charles Simeon, who endured great hardships in his powerful 54-year pastorate in Cambridge (1782–1836). His friend, T. Housman, stayed with him for a few months and tells us something of this man’s devotion:
Never did I see such consistency, and reality of devotion, such warmth of piety, such zeal and love. . . . Invariably he arose every morning, though it was the winter season, at four o’clock; and after lighting his fire, he devoted the first four hours of the day to private prayer and the devotional study of the Scriptures. . . . Here was the secret of his great grace and spiritual strength. Deriving instruction from such a source, and seeking it with such diligence, he was comforted in all his trials, and prepared for every duty.
It is true for individuals. And it is true for churches. No prayer, no power. And we need spiritual power. Consider the first quote (above) from Mark 9. There are spiritual forces that Jesus says are very hard to overcome. His disciples asked, “Why could we not cast it out?” Jesus answered, “Insufficient prayer!”
What did he mean? Probably not that they hadn’t prayed over the demonized boy, but that they had not lived in prayer. They had been caught in a prayer-less period of life. Notice: Jesus cast out the demon without praying: “You dumb and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again.” But Jesus had prayed. He lived in prayer. He was ready when evil came. But the disciples had become weak and negligent in their praying. And they were powerless in the face of strong evil forces. “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”
In other words, without persistent prayer we have no offense. As a church we are meant to invade and plunder the strongholds of Satan. But no prayer, no power. The same is true of defense. Look at the second quote (above) from Mark 14. If we are not vigilant, we will enter into temptation. Our defense and our offense as a church is an active, persistent, earnest, believing prayer force.