Effective Prayer

Effective Prayer

What is Prayer?

Prayer is loving communication with God. Prayer is the expression of our inner spiritual needs. Through prayer we can find strength of spirit, guidance, wisdom, joy and inner peace (Psalms 118:5-6, Psalms 138:3, Isaiah 58:9-11, Philippians 4:6-7, 1 Peter 5:7). Prayer may be long or short, alone or in a group, silent or aloud, but it should be a true communication with God and not done for public recognition (Matthew 6:5-8). Important aspects of prayer include1:
  • Expressions of faith and trust in God
  • Confession of our sins
  • Praise of God's mighty deeds
  • Thanksgiving for all the good things we have received
  • Dedication to serve God and other people
  • Requests for our needs and the needs of others
  • The Lord's Prayer

    Jesus spent a lot of time praying. He often went to a solitary place and prayed for hours at a time, especially at difficult times in His ministry (Matthew 14:23, 26:36-41, Mark 1:35, Luke 5:16, 6:12). The famous Lord's Prayer is Jesus' model of the perfect prayer:

    First, we call God by the affectionate term "Father," and praise His holy name:
  • Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. (NLT, Matthew 6:9)
  • We ask that God's will be done on earth and in our lives:
  • May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. (NLT, Matthew 6:10)
  • We ask to be given the things we need, but we don't ask for things we merely desire:
  • Give us today the food we need, (NLT, Matthew 6:11)
  • We ask forgiveness of our sins and acknowledge that we must also forgive those who sin against us (Matthew 5:44, 6:14-15, Mark 11:25, Luke 6:28):
  • and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. (NLT, Matthew 6:12)
  • Finally, we ask for the strength to resist temptation and evil (Luke 22:40):
  • And don't let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one. (NLT, Matthew 6:13)
  • God Will Answer Our Prayers, but ...

    Jesus said this:

    "Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. "For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it shall be opened. "Or what man is there among you, when his son shall ask him for a loaf, will give him a stone? "Or if he shall ask for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! (NAS, Matthew 7:7-11)

    God will answer our prayers and give us everything we need and more (Mark 11:24, John 15:7). But a wise parent will not give a child everything he or she wants. Similarly, prayer is not a magical trick to get anything we want or a "quick fix" for problems that we should be solving ourselves. God answers prayer requests in His own way in His own time (Psalms 40:1-3), and will not grant requests that are against His holy and wise purposes (1 John 5:14-15), are selfish in nature, are not in our best long-term interest, or those made with impure motives (Psalms 66:18, Proverbs 28:9, Isaiah 29:13, Isaiah 59:2, Hebrews 11:6, James 4:3).

    Often, we must be persistent in prayer (Luke 11:5-13, Luke 18:1-8). The answer, when it comes, may be in a form radically different than what we expected, and we must be alert to that possibility (Deuteronomy 3:23-27, 2 Corinthians 12:7-9). God frequently uses other people, such as physicians, friends, relatives or new acquaintances, to supply an answer to our prayers (Daniel 10:11-12, Acts 9:10-17).

    Sometimes, the answer must come from within ourselves and persistent prayer will help us find that answer. We may need a new attitude or a different way of looking at things (Matthew 5:8, Romans 2:1-5, 1 John 4:7-8), or we may need to make amends with someone (Matthew 6:14-15).

    Pray with persistence

    Paul begins by saying, "Devote yourselves to prayer," (NASB) or "Continue earnestly in prayer," (NKJV). In the original language it says, "continue steadfastly in prayer." The word translated, "continue steadfastly," is one word in the original language. It can be translated, "persist in, adhere firmly to, or remain devoted to or to give unremitting care to." It caries with it the idea of dedication. Of the ten times it is used in the New Testament four of them have to do with being devoted to prayer. It is a very powerful word and in this verse is given as an imperative, or a command. In other words, persistence in prayer is not an option for the Christian it is an order from the Lord Himself.

    Two of the most instructive parables Jesus ever told on prayer, one in Luke 18 and the other in Luke 11, both have to do with being persistent and not giving up in prayer.

  • Luke 18:1 says, "Now He was telling them a parable to show them that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart."
  • Luke 11:9 is where we find the promise that says, "ask and it shall be given to you; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you." Each of those verbs are in the present tense, active voice and could be translated, "keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking." Jesus does not want us to give up in prayer, He instructs us to be persistent.
  • Now there is a difference between a persistent prayer and a long prayer. A person who is persistent in prayer does not necessarily have to pray for a long time. Persistence means not giving up.

    Some people give up easy, they quit because they say they don't feel like praying, the joy is gone, the feeling is gone. But we are not to live by our feelings but to live by the commandments of our Lord who tells us to pray without ceasing.

    George Muller, known as one of the greatest prayer warriors of all times had this to say about persistence in prayer"

    "It is a common temptation of Satan to make us give up the reading of the Word and prayer when our enjoyment is gone; as if it were of no use to read the scriptures when we do not enjoy them, and as if it were no use to pray when we have no spirit of prayer. The truth is that, in order to enjoy the Word, we ought to continue to read it, and the way to obtain a spirit of prayer is to continue praying. The less we read the Word of God, the less we desire to read it, and the less we pray, the less we desire to pray."

    Pray with passion

    If you are persistent in something, it stands to reason that you are to be passionate about it. In fact, Paul says we should be vigilant or be watchful; it is the opposite of slothfulness. This describes passionate prayer.

    Jesus was passionate about His prayer life, it was something He was always doing.

    S.D. Gordon in his book, Quiet Talks on Prayer, says

    How much prayer meant to Jesus! It was not only his regular habit, but his resort in every emergency, however slight or serious. When perplexed he prayed. When hard pressed by work he prayed. When hungry for fellowship he found it in prayer. He chose his associates and received his messages upon his knees. If tempted, he prayed. If criticized, he prayed. If fatigued in body or wearied in spirit, he had recourse to his one unfailing habit of prayer. Prayer brought him unmeasured power at the beginning, and kept the flow unbroken and undiminished. There was no emergency, no difficulty, no necessity, no temptation that would not yield to prayer.

    And every time we see Jesus praying He was praying with passion.

    In Luke 3:1 at His Baptism - while He was praying the heaven was opened. Passionate prayer opens Heaven. In Luke 6:12 before He called His disciples - He spent the whole night in prayer. Passionate prayer gives direction.

    In Luke 9:29 at His transfiguration - And while He was praying, the appearance of His face became different, and His clothing became white and gleaming. Passionate prayer enables us to experience the glory of the Father.

    In John 17 in His high priestly prayer - Passionate prayer impacts the lives of others.

    In Matthew 26:39 in the Garden of Gethsemane - It is only through passionate prayer that we can pour out our hearts to God.

    In Luke 23:24 as He hung on the cross - a life that is lived in passionate prayer will enable us to maintain that spirit, even in the most difficult of circumstances.

    Jesus always prayed with passion, because He knew Who it was He was talking to and He knew that prayer to the Father is a powerful thing and not something to take lightly and glibly.

    Prayer from the heart, that's what passionate prayer is, it is prayer from the heart not just from the head.

    That is how He taught us to pray, not only through His example, but specifically through His teaching Look in Matthew 6:7, in the Sermon on the Mount as Jesus instructs on prayer. It is here that we find the Lord's prayer. But just before the Lord's prayer what does He say?

    "When you pray, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do."

    (Jews around the world may now send prayers via fax to the Wailing Wall)

    What has happened to the Lord's Prayer? People repeat it as if it were some kind of magic mantra that will bless them or move God to hear them. They are doing with it is exactly what He was instructing us not to do with it. The gentiles, when they prayed tried, through their religious repetitions, with their chants and their mantras to call forth or impress their Gods. That is not what you do when you are in a relationship.

    You don't tell your wife. "I love you, oh I really love you and I just wanted to tell you today that I love you, I'm so glad that I just have this time to just say I love you. Please feed the children, please clean the house and may all go well with you." Amen

    James 5:16 says, "The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much."

    Pray with thankfulness

    Paul never fails to mention it.

    Ephesians 5:20 tells us that thanksgiving is the natural result of being filled with and walking under the influence of the Holy Spirit.

    Philippians 4:6 tells us to be anxious for nothing but in everything we should pray, giving thanks as we make our petitions known to God.

    1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us that giving thanks at all times is God's will for us in Christ Jesus. Colossians 3:17 says that as believers everything we say or do should be done in the name of the Lord Jesus as we give thanks to Him.

    1 Timothy 4:4 - says that food and marriage are good things given to us by God and are to be received with thanksgiving and gratitude.

    Expressing gratitude does several things:

  • It articulates dependence
  • It demonstrates relationship
  • It communicates gratitude - proper attitudes
  • It generates humility