As the seasons change, I always look to the Lord to make adjustments in my daily schedule. This summer I am adjusting my schedule so that I meet God in prayer every morning at 8 am and do my walking in the evening. I am taking that time of prayer as seriously as a job. I want to know Him more intimately for myself. I also want to be more filled and permeated with His presence so that I am ready for whatever He might want to do through me each day. (See recent post on how to be filled with fullness of God by praying the Ephesians 3 prayer.)
I am start by going over some past notes that the Lord gave me when I first learned to pray. I will be sharing some of the things that stand out to me as I do this so maybe you can take a new prayer journey with me.
What is Prayer?
Prayer is talking with God, and it includes many kinds of communication. There is prayer to change things, to make requests of God, and there is prayer to simply spend time with the Lord. Included in this kind of prayer is praise and worship, time spent waiting on the Lord and just abiding in the Lord and practicing His presence.
You can divide prayer in to two basic categories, to behold and to inquire.
Psalms 27:4 – One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.
Inquire – Prayer that changes things
- For yourself.
- For others.
- Prayer of agreement – Matthew 18:19-20
- Binding/Loosing (Prayer of Authority) – Matthew 18:18.
- Petition/Supplication – Philippians 4:6; 1 Timothy 2:1
Behold – Prayer to fellowship with God
- Thanksgiving and praise.
- Fellowship and communion.
- Prayer of dedication.
- Just being with God.
In all these kinds of prayer, you can pray in the spirit (in other tongues) or from your mind in your natural tongue. In most times of prayer, many of these things will be mixed together.
General Keys to Effective Prayer
One of the most important keys to effective prayer is to know the Word of God. Search and discover what the Word says about prayer and do it. Don’t just accept what you hear from others. People are always into the newest “fads” and ideas about prayer. They pray as they hear others pray without a thought of whether it is scriptural or not. Check up on it in the Word for yourself. (See entry on the two most important things about prayer.)
Study with an open mind. Put aside your preconceived views and accept what you see exactly as it is written. Study the whole Bible on prayer to find the patterns and principles, to find God’s perspective and balance. Take the most time studying the New Testament prayers. You can find at least one in all of the Epistles Paul wrote to the churches. There is a list of these at the end of this post.
NO ONE CAN BUILD A SUCCESSFUL PRAYER LIFE WITHOUT KNOWLEDGE OF THE WORD.
Don’t put any limitations on the Word; like, “if it be His will,” etc. Just take God at His Word and treat Him as an honest being. I heard someone say, “IF JESUS DIDN’T MEAN WHAT HE SAID, WHY DIDN’T HE SAY WHAT HE MEANT?”
God may sometimes hear and help you even if you pray in ignorance. He may have to translate your prayers to what you mean rather than what you say. In His mercy and delight in us, He does this as we are learning and growing. But the more you learn the Word and are scriptural in you prayer, the more you can get results consistently all of the time.
John 15:7 – If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.
Jesus said here that one step to effective prayer is that His words abide in you.
If you pray contrary to the word, God will have a hard time answering your prayers, because God can’t side with you if you side against the Word; that would mean He’d have to side against Himself. (Leviticus 26:23-24, 27-28; Amos 3:3; Matthew 10:32-33)
If your prayers don’t seem to be working, don’t just assume that God is saying “no.” Examine the scripture to see where you might be missing it. He has revealed to us His will in what He has done in and through Jesus. What you see He has done for others; He will do for you. What He has provided in redemption is all yours for the taking.
Take the time necessary to pray. You will never become an expert in anything unless you give it time. Don’t make time to pray; put prayer and the Word first in your life.
Another important key to prayer is to get to know God intimately. Develop your friendship with Him. Learn about Him from the word and spend time with Him. Learn to practice His presence. This is what Jesus was talking about in John 15, and in Verse 7 He said that abiding in Him and abiding in His word are the keys to effective prayer.
God opened the way for us to boldly draw near because He wants to spend time with us. He delights in our prayers.
Hebrews 10:19-22 -Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
Romans 5:1-2 -Therefore, since we are justified (acquitted, declared righteous, and given a right standing with God) through faith, let us [grasp the fact that we] have [the peace of reconciliation to hold and to enjoy] peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One). Through Him also we have [our] access (entrance, introduction) by faith into this grace (state of God’s favor) in which we [firmly and safely] stand. And let us rejoice and exult in our hope of experiencing and enjoying the glory of God.
Ephesians 2:18 – For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.
Colossians 1:18-22 – And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight–
He has already done His part in drawing us near. Now it is up to us to take our part in drawing near to Him. Next time we’ll go into some specific steps that can help.