The Pryor Times

August 2, 2012

Biblical guidelines for powerful praying

On the Go
Steve Lay

Pryor, OK — Have you ever felt like your prayers go no higher than the ceiling?  If so, you are not alone.  Many people have a desire to pray, but they just don’t feel like they are very effective.  For others, prayer is extremely powerful.  What makes the difference?  Let me share with you some guidelines from the Bible that will help you pray more effectively.

First, prayers must be directed to God.  This sounds obvious, but there is often a temptation to pray just to impress men, especially when leading a public prayer.  But if we are trying to impress men in our prayers, we are not truly praying to God.  When people pray to impress others, Jesus says they have their reward.  They may impress some people, but they will not impress God.  He knows the true motive.

When we pray, we are to genuinely communicate with our Father in heaven.  This communication can accomplish amazing results.  For example, while Peter was in prison, Acts 12:5 says that the church offered constant prayer to God for him.  As a result, Peter was quickly delivered from prison by an angel.

Second, we must pray unceasingly (I Thessalonians 5:17).  Sometimes prayer is treated like a light switch to turn on God when He is needed.  Some people will go for days or even months without praying to God, but when a calamity occurs, they immediately turn to God and expect Him to help them.  Again, God is not impressed.

Jesus provided a hint that prayer may not be answered immediately.  Luke 18:1 says, “Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart.”  In other words, we are not to get discouraged.  We must continue to keep in touch with God and not lose contact with Him.  We need to pray persistently (Luke 18:7).

Third, our prayers must be accompanied by obedience.  This is vital.  I John 3:22 says, “And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.”  If we want God to answer our prayers, we must obey Him.  

If we are unwilling to obey God, why should we expect Him to bless us?  The wise man Solomon wrote in Proverbs 28:9, “One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be an abomination.”  God is angered by those who expect Him to answer their prayers while they are rejecting His word.  Can you blame Him?  Jesus said in 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.”

Fourth, prayers must be according to God’s will. I John 5:14-15 says, “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.”  Paul prayed three times that his thorn in the flesh might be removed, but God turned him down.  He told Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

Fifth, we must pray in Christ’s name.  Jesus said in John 14:13-14, “And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.”

Sixth, we must ask in faith, with no doubting (James 1:5-7).  Jesus said in Mark 11:24, “Therefore I say to you, whatever thing you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.”  Trust God to answer your prayers.

Following these guidelines from God’s word will help us pray more effectively.