Prayer | Desiring God

How To Pray Effectively

** Bible references from the Amplified Bible unless indicated otherwise.

What is prayer?

God desires to have fellowship with us as His children, just the same as an earthly father enjoys conversation with his children.

Prayer is a type of fellowship with God. God came down in the cool of the day in the Garden of Eden to talk to Adam and Eve.

God wants us to talk to Him the same way you would talk to a good friend – not hypocritical or pretentious.

Just like a small child can ask his father to help him, God will help His children overcome life’s problems.

Jeremiah 33:3a - Call to Me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things, fenced in and hidden, which you do not know (do not distinguish and recognize, have knowledge of and understand).

Psalm 34:15, 17 - (15) The eyes of the Lord are toward the [uncompromisingly] righteous and His ears are open to their cry. (17) When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their distress and troubles.

We are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (2 Corinthians 5:21).

God wants us to diligently seek Him in prayer.

Strive to be a "diligent seeker" rather than a "casual inquirer".

Hebrews 11:6 - But without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out].

Jeremiah 29:12-13 - (12) Then you will call upon Me, and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear and heed you. (13) Then you will seek Me, inquire for, and require Me [as a vital necessity] and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.

To those who ask, seek and knock - God promises (as our loving Heavenly Father) to give what is good to those who ask Him.

Matthew 7:7-8, 11 - (7) Keep on asking and it will be given you; keep on seeking and you will find; keep on knocking [reverently] and [the door] will be opened to you. (8) For everyone who keeps on asking receives; and he who keeps on seeking finds; and to him who keeps on knocking, [the door] will be opened. (11) If you then, evil as you are, know how to give good and advantageous gifts to your children, how much more will your Father Who is in heaven [perfect as He is] give good and advantageous things to those who keep on asking Him.

James 5:16b - The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working].

James 4:2c You do not have, because you do not ask.

There are many different kinds of prayer, such as:

  1. Prayer of petition
  2. Prayer of intercession
  3. Prayer of Agreement
  4. Congregational prayer
  5. Prayer of worship
  6. Prayer of thanksgiving
  7. Fellowship prayer
  8. Prayer of consecration.

However, we are going to specifically focus on the prayer of petition (or faith), which is to ask God for things we desire.

Mark 11:24 - For this reason I am telling you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe (trust and be confident) that it is granted to you, and you will [get it].

The Son of God who said we can pray for what things whatsoever we desire. This includes all spiritual, physical, material and financial needs. The only reason God would resist giving us our desires, is if we pray for something that is not in line with His Word (example praying for our neighbours wife to fall in love with us) or if we do not have the character to receive.

What does "Character to receive mean"?

If we do not have the character to receive and stay in line with God's plan for us, He will not release it to us, just as a parent will not give a shotgun to a 3 year old.

A wise person once said: "If I pray to God and my prayers are not answered, I CHANGE."

In other words: God wants to give us the desires of our heart, but if we are not ready, we will not receive.

Another good example is: If a man prays for a Godly wife, but God knows that that man's character has not developed past being a "wife beater" - why would God punish His daughter by handing her to him? Remember that He is our Father, and the Word says that if a heathen father knows how to love his child - how much more so, our Father in Heaven?

Once I have prayed – when must I believe I have received the answer?

Mark 11:24 - For this reason I am telling you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe (trust and be confident) that it is granted to you, and you will [get it].
(KJV) Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.

You must believe you receive WHEN you pray – right there and then. If you do, Jesus said "you shall have them" – that is some time in the future.

In everyday language this means you have to first believe you’ve got it, before you’re going to get it - but if you do not believe you’ve got it, you’re never going to get it.

Now if you really believe you’ve received in prayer, you won’t ask for it again, but will act and talk as though already possessing it.

Romans 3:4a - Let God be found true though every human being is false and a liar,

You don’t have to believe for the things you can see, but for the things that you cannot see.

We’re not saying we have it, but that we believe we have it.

In relation to faith, "seeing is not believing".

Our part is to simply believe. God’s part is to watch over His word and make it good on our behalf.

Jeremiah 1:12b - ...for I am alert and active, watching over My word to perform it.

Psalm 138:3a - In the day when I called, You answered me; ...

When we pray we must ask in faith, being sure about God’s willingness and ability to answer our prayer.

James 1:5-8 - (5) If any of you is deficient in wisdom, let him ask of the giving God [Who gives] to everyone liberally and ungrudgingly, without reproaching or faultfinding, and it will be given him. (6) Only it must be in faith that he asks with no wavering (no hesitating, no doubting). For the one who wavers (hesitates, doubts) is like the billowing surge out at sea that is blown hither and thither and tossed by the wind. (7) For truly, let not such a person imagine that he will receive anything [he asks for] from the Lord, (8) [For being as he is] a man of two minds (hesitating, dubious, irresolute), [he is] unstable and unreliable and uncertain about everything [he thinks, feels, decides].

Believe past the midnight hour. Don’t stop believing because your deadline has come and gone.

God delivered Daniel after his midnight hour – after he was thrown into the lion’s den.

Therefore, never tell God by WHEN He has to answer your prayer.

Also, never tell God HOW to answer your prayer.

Keep your faith in God’s power and not in a preconceived idea of what you’ve decided He has to do. That will never work. Remember, God’s ways are not our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Isa 55:9)

We must have faith in His love, willingness and ability to meet our needs.

Psalm 37:4-5 - (4) Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart. (5) Commit your way to the Lord [roll and repose each care of your load on Him]; trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) also in Him and He will bring it to pass.

Proverbs 10:24 - The thing a wicked man fears shall come upon him, but the desire of the [uncompromisingly] righteous shall be granted.

Proverbs 13:12 - Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire is fulfilled, it is a tree of life.

Why is it important to find out the will of God before we pray?

1 John 5:14-15 - (14) And this is the confidence (the assurance, the privilege of boldness) which we have in Him: [we are sure] that if we ask anything (make any request) according to His will (in agreement with His own plan), He listens to and hears us. (15) And if (since) we [positively] know that He listens to us in whatever we ask, we also know [with settled and absolute knowledge] that we have [granted us as our present possessions] the requests made of Him.

God’s WORD is His WILL.

If we have a promise from the Word, which says we can have something, we can, then pray confidently knowing we’re in the will of God.

John 15:7 - If you live in Me [abide vitally united to Me] and My words remain in you and continue to live in your hearts, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you

Romans 10:17 - So faith comes by hearing [what is told], and what is heard comes by the preaching [of the message that came from the lips] of Christ (the Messiah Himself).

Outside the parameters of God’s Word we are not able to pray in faith.

Every faith venture you embark on will be tested.

Only God’s Word can keep you steady as you go through the storm.

What must I do while I am standing in faith until the manifestation (or answer) to my prayer?

We must continually praise and thank God for the answer with respect to a specific promise (or Word) from His word that our prayer was based on. We must renew our minds to God's Word daily to adapt our character and the fruit of His Spirit in us, to be ready to receive.

Philippians 4:6 - Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.

Colossians 4:2 - Be earnest and unwearied and steadfast in your prayer [life], being [both] alert and intent in [your praying] with thanksgiving.

Romans 4:20 - No unbelief or distrust made him waver (doubtingly question) concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong and was empowered by faith as he gave praise and glory to God

Saying thank you shows that you believe you’ve received your request.

NB: Continually praising God with respect to His promise will keep our thoughts focused on His word and not the problem.

That is why continuous praise to God is the easiest way to maintain an attitude of positive faith and not become double minded.

How important are my words after I have prayed?

Mark 11:23 - Truly I tell you, whoever says to this mountain, Be lifted up and thrown into the sea! and does not doubt at all in his heart but believes that what he says will take place, it will be done for him.

God’s unchanging law of faith says that whatever you believe in your heart and confess with your mouth will come to pass.

This can work for or against you, depending on whether you have a positive or negative attitude.

Proverbs 18:21a - Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and they who indulge in it shall eat the fruit of it [for death or life].

If you say the prayer I prayed is not working, then you are speaking words of death and have nullified the prayer.

However, if you keep practising the truth of point 4, and keep praising God for the answer with respect to His promise, you will be speaking words of creative life that will speed up the answer to your prayer.

The devil will try and put negative thoughts into your mind and say you’re doubting.

That’s not true. Just counter-attack those thoughts by immediately praising God with respect to His promise and your faith will continue to work.

To whom must I pray?

John 16:23-24 23 - And when that time comes, you will ask nothing of Me [you will need to ask Me no questions]. I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, that My Father will grant you whatever you ask in My Name [as presenting all that I Am]. 24 Up to this time you have not asked a [single] thing in My Name [as presenting all that I Am]; but now ask and keep on asking and you will receive, so that your joy (gladness, delight) may be full and complete”

It is God’s will that our needs are met and that we have full joy.

This will be the result if we pray correctly by addressing our prayers to the Father, in the name of Jesus Christ.

We must never end off our prayers by praying ‘for Jesus sake’. Many people follow this unscriptural religious practice when they give thanks before a meal.

We’re the ones who are going to eat the food, so we’re to give thanks to the Father, in Jesus name, for our sake.

What are some hindrances to prayer?

Looking back at "Character to receive" in one of our earlier points - If we know there is an area in our lives where we are living in sin, and don’t plan to make the necessary biblical changes, our prayers will be hindered from working.

Proverbs 28:9 - He who turns away his ear from hearing the law [of God and man], even his prayer is an abomination, hateful and revolting [to God].

Psalm 66:18 - If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me;

If our conscience is clear, because we’re walking in obedience to God’s word then our prayers will be effective.

1 John 3:21-22 - (21) And, beloved, if our consciences (our hearts) do not accuse us [if they do not make us feel guilty and condemn us], we have confidence (complete assurance and boldness) before God, (22) And we receive from Him whatever we ask, because we [[a]watchfully] obey His orders [observe His suggestions and injunctions, follow His plan for us] and [[b]habitually] practice what is pleasing to Him

Unforgiveness, bitterness, resentment or hatred harboured in your heart against any person is a direct block to receiving anything from God.

Mark 11:25-26 - (25)- And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him and let it drop (leave it, let it go), in order that your Father Who is in heaven may also forgive you your [own] failings and shortcomings and let them drop. (26) But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your failings and shortcomings.”

Husbands who do not treat their wives with honour and respect will not receive answers to prayer.

1 Peter 3:7 - In the same way you married men should live considerately with [your wives], with an intelligent recognition [of the marriage relation], honoring the woman as [physically] the weaker, but [realizing that you] are joint heirs of the grace (God’s unmerited favor) of life, in order that your prayers may not be hindered and cut off. [Otherwise you cannot pray effectively.]

Those who pray with wrong motives will not receive anything from God

James 4:3 - [Or] you do ask [God for them] and yet fail to receive, because you ask with wrong purpose and evil, selfish motives. Your intention is [when you get what you desire] to spend it in sensual pleasures.

In Conclusion God despises hypocrisy. He knows the innermost thoughts and motives of men’s hearts, no matter what spiritual front they put on.

Be honest with God, He sees you in the dark places and give you His light. God is not only a God of Love or a God that stands for love. God is LOVE!

** Resources: Allan Bagg Ministries CFC & Ps Zania Schoeman

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