7 Steps to More Effective Prayer
Is Prayer Necessary?
Simply expressed, prayer is communicating with God. Just like other types of communication, prayer is a two-way process. In this process, we enjoy fellowship with our heavenly Father, and our relationship with him strengthens.
Our heavenly Father greatly desires us to spend time with him in prayer every single day. Flowing from our private time with him should be continued communion with him throughout the day. So he invites us to:
"Come to me all you, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and lean from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30).
It's absolutely necessary to spend time with God to experience his presence and to receive answers to our prayers. Prayer is critical to our Christian walk. It is through prayer that we draw from God's supply of the resources. As we grow in God's grace, this becomes evident to those around us.
One of the primary purposes of prayer is to ask and receive from our heavenly Father. He promises in his Word that he will answer our call (Jeremiah 33:3). As we pray for ourselves and others and receive answers to prayers we become witnesses of what God can do in the lives of his people.
We can pray and expect answers to our prayers for:
- personal and family needs (Philippians 4:13).
- each other (James 5:16)
- the saints everywhere (Ephesians 16:18)
- ministers of Christ (Romans 15:30)
- Christian workers (2 Corinthians 1:11)
- leaders and those in authority (1 Timothy 2:1-3)
- more workers (Matthew 9:38)
This hub explores seven steps to move to a higher level in our communion with God. The relevant Scriptures, teaching, focus activities and empowering prayers in this hub will inspire you to pray with confidence and experience answered prayers.
Purpose of Prayer
What do you think is the primary purpose of prayer? To ...
The Prayer - Donnie McClurkin and Yolanda Adams
Step 1 - Abide in Christ the Vine
We wonder why we do not see more answers to our prayers. Yet, God promises that when we call, he answers us. One problem could be that while we are seeking answered prayers from God, we are doing so according to our own desires.
God is interested in our building relationship with him more than what we can do for him. As sure as night follows day, answered prayer will flow from lives that are set according to God's desires, as we choose his plans over ours.
Christian author and speaker, Andrew Wommack, in his book "A Better Way to Pray," gives insights on how to pray more accurately and get answers to prayers. He points out that, "the heart attitude behind your prayer interests God much more that the actual words you say."
It is through continuing meditation on God's Word that we truly abide in God and set our hearts on him. This means we know what God promises us, through his Word. So we move from ignorance to having deep knowledge of what God has for us, and then to apply it to our lives.
This is more than "head" knowledge, but true understanding (revelation knowledge). This understanding comes through taking time to ponder and reflect on God's Word so that it greatly influences our lives.
Theme Verse: "If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you" (John 15:7, NIV).
Focus Question: What steps might you take to spend more time in communion with your Father and his Word?
Prayer: "Father God, through the power of the Holy Spirit, please teach me what it really means to remain in your Word in practical ways. I want my life to be in line with your desires for me. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen."
Which of the following statements describes the outcome of your prayers? When I pray ...
Step 2 - Pray in Faith
An important ingredient to answered prayers is praying in faith. Let us follow the thread in the story in Mark 11. Start with Jesus cursing the fig tree; he spoke to the tree and got the desired result. It dried up.
Importantly, Jesus used that incident to teach his disciples about faith; believing, having confidence and not doubting when they prayed. He emphasized the need to believe when we pray. What is the basis of this faith? We must believe that it is impossible for God to lie, that is, we rely on what God's Word says, and not the circumstances we face.
Only when we ask believing and not doubting can our prayers be effective. The Apostle James says we will get nothing from God if we waver (James 1:6,7). In contrast, he explains that:
"The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results" (James 5: 16b, NLB)
As we stand in faith in God's Word our prayers can be powerful and produce wonderful results. Alleluia! Circumstances can be changed, and people can be are healed and delivered from the powers of darkness.
Theme Verse:"Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours" (Mark 11:24 NIV).
Focus Questions: Have you been receiving consistent answers to your prayers? What steps will you now take to believe God's Word and receive more answers to your prayers?
Prayer: "Father God, thank you for the wonderful promises you give me in your Word. Help my unbelief. Help me to believe your Word so that I may receive the fullness of your answers to my prayers. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen."
Step 3 - Stand on God's Word
For us to pray in faith we have to stand soundly on the Word of God. We have to be sure of what the Word of God says about the issue(s). Only then can we be confident to know that God will answer.
Many times we waver in our faith because we are not sure about God's will for a matter. This can only be remedied through a knowledge of God's Word. This is not just sense or experiential knowledge but a revelation of God's Word deep in our spirits,
Germaine Copeland, the author of the "Prayer that Avails Much" series, has developed powerful prayers that are directly based on the Word of God. Having read and meditated on two of the books in the series, I find that true Bible faith comes as I hear and continue to speak the Word of God. As I consistently repeat the prayers that are based on God's Word my heart becomes open, receptive and sensitive to the Holy Spirit and my faith grows.
I cannot over-emphasize the need to continually hear, read and meditate on the promises of God. The prayers in the series could help you to become more aware of your inheritance rights as a child of God or you might miss out on what he has provided for you.
The Scripture declares that God exalts his Word above his name. God's Word cannot lie, what he says, he will do it. Why should we be living less than we should when God has provided more than enough for his children. His Word says::
- By his stripes, we are healed (2 Peter 1:24).
- He supplies our needs (Philippians 4: !3).
- Call and he will answer (Jeremiah 33:3).
- The prayer faith heals the sick (James 5:15).
- We ask and we shall receive (Luke 11: 9-10).
These are just a few of the great promises that we have as Christians, for "he has given us his great and precious promises (2 Peter 1:4).
Theme Verse: "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17, KJ).
Focus Activity: Schedule time to read and meditate on God's Word so that it permeates your very being.
Prayer: "Father God, thank you for your Word and your great and precious promises. Give me the grace to place your Word as a priority in my life over and above so many things that are attracting me. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen."
Prayers That Avail Much
Germaine Copeland, the author of the "Prayer that Avails Much" series, has developed powerful prayers that are directly based on the Word of God. She outlines that the Word of God transforms our minds and lifestyle. She further explains, "you become victorious, trustworthy and the one with the answer, for your heart is fixed and established on the Word." I have found the "Prayer That Avails" series very helpful in my own prayer life.
Step 4 - Pray in the Spirit
Many times we are not sure how to pray or even what to pray. We sometimes find that though we are armed with a list of prayer needs, our praying becomes boring, and there is little motivation to pray. The answer is to expect the Holy Spirit to help us to pray and reveal to us what God has prepared for his people (Read 1 Corinthians 2. 9-10).
We need to begin to see prayer as not our work, but as the work of God. Then we can look to our Father to show us through the Holy Spirit how to pray. The Holy Spirit will reveal what we need to pray for, and how to pray. But we need to submit to his leading so that he can help us to pray as we should.
We must allow God to place his desires in our hearts, then wait on the Holy Spirit, he helps us to pray based those desires. Our confidence must not be in our ability to pray, but on the Holy Spirit's empowerment as he prays through us according to God's will.
Theme Verses: "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.
And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God ( Romans 8: 26, 27).
Focus Question: What steps will you take to allow the Holy Spirit to lead you when you pray?
Prayer: "Father God, thank you that I have the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, who leads me into all truth. I submit myself to his leading, as I pray, so that I may pray according to your will, and see answers to my prayers. In Jesus' Name me I pray. Amen.
Step 5 - Persevere in Prayer
The story in Luke 18 depicts the widow who would not give up even though she was dealing with a judge who was corrupt. She continued to ask him to get justice for her. She refused to be denied. She did not give up, and in the end, the judge did what was right, and her persistence paid off.
On the contrary, as Christians, we have a Father who is more than willing to hear and answer our prayers. Our heavenly Father is not like the unjust judge, he will answer us quickly. Yes, there might be obstacles, for example, the adversary does everything to block our answer, but we must persist.
Other times, it could be that deep in our hearts we are not really sure what we want; the process of persisting settles the issue. Then faith will arise and grab hold of what God has for us.
What is it that God promised and it seems that you are denied? If it is according to God's Word, then it is not God that is denying you. He cannot go against his very Word. So continue to persevere, and refuse to let go. Take your authority against demonic forces that would seek to block your blessings.
Theme Verses: "Never stop praying (1 Thessalonians 5:17, NLT). "One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up" (Luke 18:1, NLT).
Focus Activity: Reflect on an issue or situation that you are praying about without seeing the expected results. Is your request in line with God's promises in is Word? Then press ahead, believe that God has already supplied the need, and start thanking him until you see the manifestation of the promise.
Prayer: "Father God, I thank you that you are a good God, and you give your children good gifts. You will not withhold any good thing from me. Give me the grace to persevere until I receive the blessings you promised. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen."
Bible Quotes on Prayer
These are some Scriptures that will help you to understand that prayer is near to the heart of God, and how you can connect with him a see tremendous results through your prayer.
- "If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you" (John 15:7, NIV).
- "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours" (Mark 11:24 NIV).
- "The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results" (James 5: 16b, NLB).
- "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God" ( Romans 8: 26, 27).
- "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: 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 what we asked of him" (1 John 5:14,15).
- "Never stop praying" (1 Thessalonians 5:17, NLT).
- "One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up" (Luke 18:1, NLT).
- "And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord's people" ( Ephesians 6:18).
Thanksgiving is One Form of Prayer
Step 6 - Use Different Types of Prayer
I must confess that without sound knowledge of God's Word, my prayers were a matter of hit and miss. One of the reasons for this was that I was not even aware that there are specific prayers for different situations that I prayed for.
I find Reverend Slyde Moran at Bible Cities.com explanation of the different types of prayer which operates by different spiritual laws insightful. Reverend Moran outlines eight types of prayers including the prayer of:
- Faith (Mark; 11:24)
- Agreement (Matthew 18:19)
- Supplication (Philippians 4:6)
- Praise and worship (Luke 24:52-53)
- Consecration or Service (Matthew 26:39)
- Commitment (1 Peter 5:7).
- Intercession (Romans 8: 26-27)
In practical terms, it is using the right tools to get the job done. Each type of prayer has a specific emphasis. For example,.there is a difference between the prayer of consecration and the prayer of faith. Reverend Moran explains that the prayer of consecration focuses on submitting our lives to God will, and so we are asking God for direction.
In the prayer of consecration, we are saying we are not certain of God's will for us. For example, we could be unsure of God's will for the profession we should pursue, and so we are listening for specific direction as to how to proceed.We pray in faith that he will give us the direction for the best path for our lives.
The prayer of faith requires faith based on the revealed Word of God. For example, we pray the prayer of faith for the supply of our needs based on the promise that God will supply all our needs (Philippians 4:19).
We certainly would not pray "If it is your will Lord, supply a place for my family to live." Instead, we would pray with confidence for we know that according to his Word, it is God's will to supply all our needs; they are already provided for.
Theme Verse: "And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests" (Ephesians 6:18).
Focus Activity: Take some time to consider how you have been praying. If you are not satisfied with the results, check out the teaching at Bible Cities.com for further help.
Prayer: "Father God, give me fresh clarity as to how to pray with confidence for whatever my needs are. I want to see specific results from my prayers so that you might be glorified. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen."
Reasons for Unanswered Prayers
What do you think is the primary reason for unanswered prayers?
Step 7 - Flow in God's Love
At the heart of effective prayer is love. As we commune with our Father, he pours his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). It is because we receive this love that we are able to express agape love for God and our fellow men. For example, through love, we have the power to forgive those who hurt us.
An important ingredient to answered prayer is that we forgive others who cause us pain. Though this can be sometimes difficult, we have to make the decision to let go because that is what the Bible instructs (Mark 11:25). Unforgiveness affects our relationship with God and hinders our prayers.
R. T Kendall in his book, Total Forgiveness, explains that "the ultimate proof of total forgiveness takes place when we sincerely petition the Father to let those who have hurt us off the hook ... and pray for them to be blessed."
We need to ask the Holy Spirit to help us to release the hurt and pain and pour God's love into our hearts in the place of bitterness and resentment. God's Word explains that "what is important is faith expressing itself in love" (Galatians 5:6, NIV).The Spirit of love will be shed in our heart as we surrender to the Holy Spirit to renew our inner life every day.
As we express our love and forgiveness for others, this makes the way for faith to be released in our hearts for answered prayers. Let us make our love walk a priority so that we see the best in others. This love will also motivate us to pray for them, resulting in changes in their lives.
Theme Verses: "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth, It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres" (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).
Focus Activity: Take steps to implement ways in which you can express more love to specific persons, for example, in your family, at church or someone who you do not get on so well with.
Prayers: "Father God, I thank that your love is poured into my heart by the Holy Spirit so that I can express my love for you and others. This love constrains me to forgive others of the hurts they cause me, even as you forgive me. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.
God Answers Prayer
Our heavenly Father wants us to come to him boldly in prayer, through his Son Jesus Christ. Out of our communion with him, flows answered prayers.
As we pray effectively, we will see God's miraculous interventions in our circumstances, and we become true witnesses so that God is be glorified in our lives.
References and Further Reading
Moran, Slyde (n.d,) Different Kinds of Prayers. Accessed March 6, 2014 from Biblecities. com.
Complied from the Works of Andrew Murray (2003). God's Word for Growing in Prayer Uhrichsville. OH: Humble Creek.
© 2014 Yvette Stupart