These are the 4 foundations for an effective prayer.
In this post we ask ‘what is prayer, why we need to pray and how to pray? We look at the 4 basic foundations for an effective prayer and provide tips to help you fulfil those foundations.
What is prayer?
Prayer is not rituals, it is not measured by time or word count, it is not some single formula and it certainly isn’t there to control God to our bidding. Prayer is our communication with God, a time set aside to just talk to Him there is no particular posture that you need to be in to pray, kneel, stand or sit so long as you are speaking to the maker of heaven and earth: you are praying. In prayer, we lift up our soul’s to join the Lord in his presence (Psalm 25:1), in His presence everything else becomes small as we make ourselves known to God and most importantly God makes himself known to us. Anyone can pray to God and be heard but only a child of God can enter into his presence.
Why should we pray?
The wisdom learned from this life has taught us all not to trust strangers and for this reason, we will never tell a stranger our inner-most thoughts. Only people we have spent countless hours and days sharing our joys and sorrows with do we trust, when these people tell us something we believe it wholeheartedly without hesitation because we know them and they know us. In the same manner, a Christian who prays is a Christian who knows and trusts the Lord, they are in tune with the Father’s heart that when the Father says something they believe and when they are faced with temptation, doubt and fear their knowledge of God is not superficial but is rooted to the rock of ages that no storm can shake. They are dangerous because God knows who they are and will not let any harm come to them.
How do we pray?
Knowing the value of being in communication with God we then must ask how do we pray? For we know too many people, including ourselves who pray and hear nothing, who plead and see nothing and who ask and get nothing, so surely there must be a right and a wrong way to pray.
I would like to emphasise that there is no strict formula on how to pray but there is a right and a wrong way to pray. Here are just 4 things that make for a right prayer
No Jesus, No Peace. Know Jesus , Know Peace!Tweet
Those who don’t know Jesus or who are unaware that ‘no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus’ (Romans 8:1) are often too fearful to pray to God for fear that he will condemn them. However, if you have received Jesus as your Lord and saviour there is now no condemnation ‘since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Romans 5:1) as such, we can ‘approach the throne of grace with boldness that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time’ (Hebrews 4:16). Whereas, before our sins and our guilt would have prevented us from entering into his presence, or talking to him as freely as we do now. We now through Jesus Christ can walk with confidence into the holy of holies and sit right beside God the Father.
If we are afraid of God it becomes easy for us not to open up to him about our concerns and worries. It removes us further away from God because we then see God as a threat and danger rather than a Father who loves and cares deeply for us. Fear removes us from his presence, notice how despite Adam and Eve sewing ‘fig leaves together to make loincloths for themselves (Genesis 3:7) after they had sinned they still felt naked, this was because the glory (God’s presence) that covered them had left, and now they were ‘afraid [and] so hid’ (Gen 3:10).
Fear comes when you no longer know your identity in Christ and it can be so debilitating ( read how I overcame fear) but we are so fortunate that even if our ‘hearts condemn us, God is greater than our hearts’ (1 John 3:20).
#Tip1 Remind yourself who you are in Christ Jesus, it says that those who a) believe in Jesus Christ b)love one another has no condemnation
#Tip2 Walk with the Holy Spirit, for he is the one who will confirm Romans 8:1 in our lives,
Pray until there is praiseTweet
In everything ‘you pray and ask for-believe that you have received and will have it’ (Mark 11:24)
Expect to receive a response to your prayer whether this is a ‘YES, NO or WAIT, expect a result, we are instructed to ‘ask in faith without doubting (James 1:6) that we will receive what we have asked for. Expect the unexpected. I like what John Bloom writes on DesiringGod.com which is:
If we ask God to help us love our neighbours as ourselves (Mark 12:31), what should we expect to receive? Answers that force us to give unexpected attention to a neighbour (whom we might not put in that category [Luke 10:29]), which are inconvenient and irritating.
If we ask for God’s nearness because we believe that it is good for us to be near God (Psalm 73:28), what should we expect to receive? Answers that break our hearts, for God is near to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18).
If we ask God for greater wisdom and discernment, what should we expect to receive? A steady stream of mind-bending, confusing answers that are difficult to understand and work through, because our powers of discernment are trained by constant practise to distinguish good from evil (Hebrews 5:14).
If we ask God to “increase our faith” (Luke 17:5), what should we expect to receive? To be repeatedly put into situations where we discover that our perceptions are not trustworthy so that we are forced to trust Christ’s promises, “for we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).John Bloom
It is not uncommon for God to answer our prayers unusually and as such we should expect the unexpected.
Someone who is expecting an answer will not stop till they have received one, consider Daniel (Daniel 10:10-14), from the moment he started his prayer God heard and an answer was being sent to him, but because of opposition from the enemy that answer took 21 days before reaching Daniel. Now imagine if Daniel had stopped praying!
An expectant person doesn’t just sit passively; they are active. Take for instance a pregnant woman expecting a child, she will spend the 9 months before delivery learning how to be a good mother, she will not drink alcohol or do things that she would normally do that could harm or prevent her child from being born. Whilst’s she waits, there will be birthing pains but she must not stop preparing herself for the delivery date for that is when her sorrow will turn to joy. In the same manner, we must prepare ourselves by searching out God even more, not giving up and losing hope.
#tip 1 Pray until there is praise. Pray until you see your answer or have received reassurance that God has heard your prayer, there are many circumstances were people started praising because they knew their prayers had been answered despite not yet seeing the results with their physical eyes. Often it is at the point of praise that prayers are answered and there is peace.
#Tip 2 Be specific. Someone who gives a vague prayer is someone who is not anticipating to receive anything.
When praying be specific, don’t just pray “God heal the people” , instead pray “God heal John Smith’s hearts from fear’. For ‘what father… if a son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead of a fish?’(Luke 11:11). If you pray for food you can get anything from a banquet to a single Brussel sprout, so be specific, it will help you to remain expectant.
Just putting the “in the name of Jesus” at the end of a wrong prayer does not make that wrong prayer right. Our prayers should be in alignment with what is said in the Bible and that is to Ask in the name of Jesus.
In John 16:23 we are told that anything we ‘ask the Father in My [Jesus] name, He will give’, Jesus made it possible for us to speak to the Father through His sacrifice, where prior we would not have had the liberty to cry ‘Father’ as there was a spiritual divide between us and God, but now that division has been broken and nothing better illustrates this then when ‘the veil in the holy of holies was torn in two from top to bottom’ (Matthew 27:51). We have been granted the privilege to pray to the Father, it is not Jesus who we pray to but is God the Father.
So when we pray ‘in the name of Jesus’, we are recognising that we have been given access to the Father through Jesus, in his name we are displaying his character, his manner and attitude. Let me give an illustration:
It is like being invited by a friend to an exclusive boutique, without your friend being there you would be denied access into the store because the store owner does not know you. Having entered the store through your friend, you now represent them by your character, manner and speech, which must tell the shop-owner that you are the same as your friend and deserve the same exclusive treatment your friend is given in the boutique.
We are living in the time where we do not need to speak to Jesus ‘to ask the Father on our behalf, for [we will] ask [the Father] directly because of [our] new relationship with [him]’ (John 16:26 ). However, we are imperfect beings and sometimes we don’t know or we forget how we can enter the secret boutique, and this is where the Holy Spirit introduces himself. The Holy Spirit joins to help us in our weakness because we do not know what to pray for as we should, the Spirit Himself intercedes for us (Romans 8:26) and because of the Holy Spirit who now lives in us ’we have the mind of Christ’ (1 Corinthians 2:16) and can now imitate after Christ and speak to the store-owner personally.
The name of Jesus is more than just a name, it is a name above all other names and when we wear it as a badge on our breasts we signify who we belong to, without it no one would know who we are.
As mentioned above, when we pray we must be in alignment with the name of Jesus and everything that name represents, this also is true regarding our hearts, they too must be in alignment with the name of Jesus. Our prayers can be wrong when we pray for our desires for pleasure (James 4:3)that does not align with God’s word or heart. When our hearts are not carrying the name of Jesus we once again build barriers between God and us and he will not listen (Isaiah 59:2, Psalm 66:18).
#Tip 1 confess your sins before God in prayer, that he may create in you a clean heart, one that resembles the Lord Jesus ( psalm 51:10-12)
#Tip 2 When you don’t know what to pray about ask the Holy Spirit for guidance in prayer
Familiarity with God should not breed contempt.”Tweet
I think there is a lack of understanding and importance of the word reverence when it comes to prayer, so many people enter into prayer without it. God is holy, as such must be reverenced ( 1 Peter 1:17). This awe of his holiness must also transform us so that we too will become holy as he is holy (1Peter 1:16) not just in our prayer life but our day-to-day living and breathing.
Reverence: It is a deep respect for someone or something.
When there is a lack of respect/ reverence it is easy to forget the privilege that we have to speak one-to-one with the maker, a privilege that was accomplished through Jesus Christ our Lord. It becomes easy to dismiss God or to place him as our servant and as such, we lack humility in the face of an awesome God. It is like walking into Buckingham Palace and demanding of the Queen to serve you caviar -where is the respect?
#Tip 1 Enter into prayer with thanksgiving and his courts with praise (Psalm 100:4), this is not for God’s benefit but is so that we a) are aware of His greatness and b) we are humbled before the Almighty
#Tip 2 familiarity should not breed contempt. There is no particular place or posture to pray, but when praying consider the following:
- Location: If you are in a room with distraction move to a different room or switch of that distraction e.g. TV, or have a child-minder
- Posture: Do you feel you are in a position that honours God e.g. if you are praying whilst on the toilet you are probably not reverencing God*
- Attitude: As you pray is your heart in alignment with the name of Jesus?
As Christians we need prayer in the same manner as we need the air we breath. Understanding how to pray is crucial to building our relationship with God. We build a relationship with God when we FEAR him and are in awe of his majesty.
I hope that you will take with you the 4 foundations for effective prayer and you will follow through with the tips provided on this post.
Please let me know if you have any questions or topics you would like me to post in the comments below or send me a quick email.
*There is no strict posture or location to be in when praying, in fact I was once in the middle of bathing when the Holy Spirit decided to fellowship with me, and one time I was in the ladies bathroom at church and ended up falling on my knees and praying on the bathroom floors. This is just there so you can examine your attitude towards God as you pray.