Five Keys to Effective Prayer
“Effective prayer is the key to living a victorious life.”
- Reynolds Xamot
I think most of us will agree that prayer is a critical component of the Christian experience in that it involves our communication with God. Like all communication encounters, there is a way to engage in it that will maximize effectiveness. In recently reading this article by Doug Andre entitled “Five Keys to Effective Prayer”, I was impressed that he had a perspective on prayer and its effectiveness from which we all could benefit. As I share it with you today, it is my prayer that it will lift your prayer life to a new level.
- Dr. Craig L. Oliver, Sr.
Five Keys to Effective Prayer
By: Doug Andre
“Watson, come here! I want to see you!”
With these famous words, Alexander Graham Bell catapulted himself into instant historic notoriety as the inventor of the first practical telephone. During a June 2, 1875 experiment by Bell and his assistant, Thomas Watson, the telephone as we know it was born. It was a miraculous invention, and it changed the world forever.
How things have changed! We now live in a world where we use texting, email, social media and a host of other communication mediums as the new forms of “talking” to one another.
No matter how God answers prayer, we can trust that his wisdom far exceeds our own.
While modern technology is wonderful, it seems that we are losing the art of verbal communication. Alexander Graham Bell’s miraculous, world-changing invention might soon by relegated to museums and memories of days gone by.
Brothers and sisters, in whatever situation we find ourselves, our primary call should be to the Lord. One of my favorite verses in all of Scripture is found in the Book of Jeremiah, which states, Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known. (Jeremiah 33:3)
Although this Old Testament verse was addressed specifically to Jeremiah, it is relevant in our lives as we call out to him. Today, “calling” isn’t so much picking up the phone but kneeling down in prayer. So, how should we call out to the Lord?
Call to Me…
Prayer is our primary means of communication with the Lord on a daily basis, and any prayer, no matter the duration or scope, is relevant and important to God (Matthew 7:7-8). God is available to hear our prayers any time of the day (6:6). For some of us, it is hard to pray with consistency during the week. For others, we may struggle with what to pray for, while some of us don’t pray much to him at all.
No matter our circumstances, we have the privilege of praying to our Father who is in heaven, and so we should pray! But what are some key components of effective prayer.
- 1. Pray rightly.
You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. (James 4:2-3)
Praying rightly for something that would glorify the Lord is an excellent way to pray. A key to praying rightly is to pray for things that are on God’s heart – like asking the Lord for the opportunity to share the Gospel with a family member or co-worker, or for the ability to love your neighbor. We can also pray directly from Scripture. To pray from Scripture, try using your favorite Psalm or Proverb and reading it out loud. Pray rightly.
- 2. Pray with confidence.
Do you pray confidently? All of us who follow Jesus Christ have the Holy Spirit living on the inside of us. If we believe this to be true, then how could we not be confident about coming humbly before the Lord? God’s Word tells us,
And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. (1 John 5:14-15)
Every time I pray, I am confident that God will listen and answer my prayers according to his good will. Brothers and sisters in the Lord, our confidence should be in Christ and because of Christ. Pray with confidence.
- 3. Pray continuously.
I often pray for people and their circumstances until they are resolved. A case in point, I prayed for my mom’s salvation for over 11 years until she received Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. During those 11 years, I did not waver in believing that he would answer my prayer, and I am happy that he answered in the affirmative.
God wants us to be persistent in prayer. In 1 Thessalonians 5 the Apostle Paul urges us all to “pray without ceasing” (v. 17). I liken this act to a child who desperately wants something from a parent and continuously asks and pleads with them over a long period of time until they receive God’s answer. Pray continuously.
…And I Will Answer You
God answers prayer. In fact, I can’t recall a time where he didn’t answer a prayer of mine. And while I am always looking for him to answer in the affirmative, sometimes he doesn’t answer that way. We need to be prepared to receive an answer that might not make sense to us.
So, how does God answer prayer? His normal mode of answering is either “yes, no, or wait.” No matter how he answers, we can trust that his wisdom far exceeds our own and that he alone knows what is best for us at all times (Jeremiah 29:11). So, what are some key components of God’s response to prayer?
- 4. God answers in his time.
God assures us that he will answer our prayers in his perfect timing. Psalm 69:13 states,
But as for me, my prayer is to you, O Lord. At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness.
While we wait for his perfect timing, we must be patient. Psalm 37:7 states,
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!
How are you having to wait on God’s perfect timing?
- 5. God answers for his glory.
God gets all of the glory, no matter our prayers or how they are answered by him. Isaiah 24:15 states,
Therefore in the east give glory to the Lord; in the coastlands of the sea, give glory to the name of the Lord, the God of Israel.
We are commanded to give him glory. God does not share the spotlight with others. Isaiah 42:8 reminds us,
I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.
We were created for his glory (Isaiah 43:7), and so everything we do for his glory (1 Corinthians 10:31)!
How do you give God the glory he deserves?
Great and Hidden Things
The Lord calls us to call on him for everything in our lives.
Perhaps one day Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone might become obsolete but calling out to our great God never will. We can be confident that calling out to him through Jesus Christ, God will hear us and answer us in his perfect timing and for his glory.