Everyone, absolutely everyone prays! Even the most hardened atheist offer occasional prayers. The importance of prayer cannot be overemphasized. Someone, referring to the potency of prayer, once said “prayer is the slender nerve that moves omnipotence; it is firing the winning shot”. Even though we all pray, it is not every prayer that counts as effective. To pray effectively, we need to understand God’s intention for prayer. In James 5:13-16, the Bible describes the kind of prayer that is effective – Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
To pray effectively, we need to come to the place of prayer with the right posture, understand the principles of prayer and practice the act of praying correctly.
- The Posture of Prayer – How do I present myself?
- Come with relationship in mind. In Matthew 6:9, Jesus was teaching His Disciples how to pray. He said “After this manner therefore pray ye: OUR FATHER which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.“. In teaching them to pray, He told them to come to “our Father”. It is important to recognize the fact that we are coming to meet our Father-God, not a mindless, emotionless, rigid, distant and ineffable concept. Our prayer time must be one of bonding and improving our relationship with this Father of ours. This means we have to unselfishly have an attitude of care and interest in the things of our Father God when we come to pray.
- Come with a heart of Humility. “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly” Matthew 6:5,6. It is important to come to God humbly. Don’t come showing off your eloquence, don’t come attempting to impress people around you, don’t even attempt to impress God. Remember the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican praying in Luke 18:10-14? Jesus denounced the Pharisee for unnecessarily trying to justify himself. Something else; have a healthy sense of awe and respect for God. The fact that we can call Him father should not mean we can disdain Him in the place of prayer. Don’t come demanding from God – He owes you nothing; don’t come commanding God – He is not your errand boy.
- Be confident in the place of prayer. “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” Heb 4:14-16. There is no point praying with trepidation and doubt. Sometimes, our prayers are rendered ineffective because we have no confidence in God’s love and care. We sometimes wonder if He is even concerned about what we are going through. The Bible tells us that our God is personal. He is not abstract. He understands. He cares.
- Pray in the Spirit. When many Christians hear about praying in the Spirit, they immediately think about speaking in tongues. Praying in the Spirit is not necessarily speaking in tongues. It is praying in the power, leading, direction of the Holy Spirit. It is allowing the Holy Spirit be in charge of your prayer time. This means He can completely hijack your prayers; He can take over your prayer time and make you start praying for things you had no intention of praying about. Jesus told the woman at the well in John 4:24 that true worship is done in the spirit. In the same vein, Jude admonishes us in Jude 1:20 to “… build yourselves up on [the foundation of] your most holy faith [continually progress, rise like an edifice higher and higher], pray in the Holy Spirit.
In summary, when we come into the place of prayer, we need to have the right attitude. We need to come with relationship in mind, having an attitude of humble confidence, and a willingness to allow the Holy Spirit direct your prayers.