#TBT Throwback Thursday posts are older content that I published elsewhere, that I want to have here in my new site. I hope you like them!
We all want to be effective in our prayers. We want to pray like Abraham did, to be guided through prayers as David was, and to have that kind of prayer life demands some basic understanding.
James 5:16 states that some prayers are effective; we must conclude that some other prayers are not effective. In that same spirit, Jesus’ disciples made their wisest request when they said, “Lord teach us to pray.” (Luke 11:1) To have such access available to us as God’s children and ambassadors in the world and not exercise it would be a great failure. Many Christians don’t know what they are lacking.
Two Main Principles
First, reading scripture consistently will amplify your efforts in prayer. This is true for several reasons. One reason is that you will read models of powerful prayer. Another is that His promises will be plain to you. Prayer and Bible reading have a synergy when pursued jointly in the believer’s life.
Some scriptures combining our prayers with our Bibles include:
- Romans 10:17 “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” Everyone can hear from the Word of God, and pray in faith based on that experience.
- Matthew 4:4 “But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Jesus is speaking here, quoting one part of the Bible to support the revelation of God’s will. We can find general revelations in the Bible, and specific (secondary) revelations in prayer.
- 1 John 5:14–15 “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” This is a promise in the Bible, and direction in how we should pray. Without Bible knowledge this would be lost.
To know God’s Word is to know His will, and His promises concerning us. With that knowledge we can pray with His promises and avoid wasted prayers that are against His will. Let the Bible guide your communication with God.
Second you should journal about your prayer time. This is an engrossing subject, but there are definite and easily realized benefits to journaling. To just start in a way that you can return to is enough for a beginning.
Every praying Christian will see at least these benefits:
- A record of needs to return to and pray for again (See Luke 11,18, and the Psalms for repeated prayer)
- Prayers that are answered and testimonies made
- A history of what God has communicated to you through prayer
- The timeliness of sorrow turning to joy, darkness to light
Journaling is a easy and great habit to form. You will build a wealth of experiences and testimonies. Once you are a few months into it, your journal will become one of your most precious possessions. A great way to start would be to write out all the testimonies and answered prayers you can remember. How wonderful would that be to have?
How can we practice what we do not know from the Bible? How can we trust the great works we are asking of God to just limited memory? God ordained a record of revelation; use it, and keep one yourself.
Habakkuk 2:2 “And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.”
Three Easy Targets
- Each night, plan in the next morning to give God time in prayer as a sacrifice and offering.
- Decide to develop a prayer life including each principle below.
- When you have finished, write what you have experienced since your last prayer time, and any special occurrences this time.
The Biblical Principles for a Powerful Prayer Life
These are the very center of this whole book. I would implore you to write at least the first line of each in your prayer journal. In that way you will always be sure to have powerful prayers.
1. Pray first for forgiveness of your sins, which will hinder your prayers.
Proverbs 28:13, “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper; but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” God’s spirit cannot be expected to work through a filthy vessel. And some times a simple prayer won’t do it.
Church culture has created the “sinner’s prayer” and follow-after-me repentance, but Biblically it is a very personal matter. You can not be led through it, and often generalities are lacking. Confessing and repenting of every single sin to God that you can remember is the only sure way. Asking Him to search out our heart and reveal sin would be a wise follow up.
Thankfully we only need to repent of a sin once and it is forgiven. With His power in our lives this should become a shorter, though still vital, process.
2. Be as specific in needs as possible.
Philippians 4:6, “Be anxious for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”
We are the children and ambassadors of Christ. We can have authority, and have our needs met, if we just ask. God delights in answering prayer mightily. We are free to ask for personal needs to be met, to pray for other’s needs, and to intercede in prayer. Praying specifically will let God answer specifically. He is all knowing, but that does not excuse His people from communicating with Him well.
Once in Georgia we offered prayer to a woman on her porch, who accepted and said she had “family needs.” We asked further, who was sick and with what, and she shared that he mother was deathly ill. We prayed with her right there on the porch, for her mother’s health and salvation by name, and the presence of God was tangible. She prayed and wept, afterward thanking us while shaking from the power of God, and I must doubt that a general prayer for her extended family would have been as powerful.
3. Pray with authority and confidence “in the name of Jesus.”
John 14:13–14, “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it”.
Hebrews 4:16, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
These verses are formulas for prayer. Tradition might be a clouded window to see through, but the Bible is clear. Your instruction in the past may have be contradictory to itself. But the Bible says plainly that you are to pray in Jesus’ name, and boldly.
The authority that we pray in, for things and against things, is not our own. We did not earn Heaven’s favor. Jesus paid for it, claimed it, and sits on the throne presently. He is the creator, savior, and finisher of our faith. We do all things by His authority as Christians, or with no authority at all.
His love for us allows us this boldness. That same Jesus has demonstrated that there is no end that He will not go to, to save souls and see His will done. When we are in line with scripture and clean of sin we can be bold in prayer knowing that God will answer us.
4. Pray in the spirit, being filled consistently
At times we are weighed down with burdens from God. He trusts us with these, that we will partner with Him and others, seeing His will done. At times it is not revealed to us the entirety of the situation we are praying for, but the calling is strong. This is the time to pray in the spirit.
Romans 8:26, “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities; for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit Himself, maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”
The Holy Ghost is necessary for salvation, and comes after we are submitted to God’s will. Submission is something that can be lost, and returning to speaking in tongues can be difficult for the newly spirit filled Christian if not done consistently. Rather than allow room for a barrier we should practice the scripture Ephesians 5:18, “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.” Following Paul’s example in 1 Corinthians 14:18, saying “I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all:”
5. Decide to pray in true faith expecting great things.
Romans 10:17 “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.”
Faith is not man made, but it comes from God through His word, be that a personal revelation in prayer or the Bible. Hebrews 12:12 says, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith;…” Jesus is both the beginning of faith and the one that completes the work.
James 1:3 “Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.” This is our duty in faith; to be patient in our belief. We can have confidence in what God has revealed to us. If He says that a mountain should be moved, or a dead person raised, we can have faith in Him and His power.
Mark 11:22–24 “And Jesus answering saith unto them, ‘Have faith in God. For verily I said unto you, that whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.’”
6. Pray against Satan, his plans, and how he might hinder you and those you are praying for. Prayer is powerful, and your enemy knows it. It is how he has lost more ground that anything else since the resurrection of Jesus. He will, certainly, attempt to distract you and discourage your prayers. If you want to see the supernatural playing out get serious about prayer. He will be defeated if you stick to it and call out His attacks and tricks in prayer. You can stop Satan’s advances in your community and the lives of those you love.
James 4:7 “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
7. Be urgent in your prayers, praying with zeal
James 5:16 “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much”
Powerful prayer is available to you. Fervency is the opposite of apathy and complacency. You must care about the subjects of your prayers, and know that your prayers matter. We become careless about prayer when we stop realizing how much it affects.
Fasting will return fervency to your prayers. Focusing on prayer, substituting it when you would usually nourish your body, makes the practice alive with power. It’s a great act of submission and it pays dividends.
8. Consider connecting with another prayerful person.
Matthew 18:19, “Again I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.”
Corporate prayer is powerful. We do this often at the beginning of services. That is not the only place that it is appropriate, though. Consider, when you need extra support or want extra power in prayer, uniting with someone else in prayer. This scripture is blatant in it’s promise. Every great “Awakening” and Revival has been born out of people praying in unity.
Consider the amazing feats performed by gymnasts, acts of both great strength and skill. They can travel the world, competing, and win great prizes. However the best still practice consistently. The best have the best coaches mentoring them.
We can ask God to teach us to pray, and He is the best mentor, but we must also show up to practice. He is speaking to us through the Bible and listening for our prayers. We could see the Kingdom of God spread through our communities and the world through Biblically powerful prayer. We could even be a part of it with a great ministry, if we would only show up for practice.