Efficient Prayers

By: Kathy Overshiner

Prayer is a multi-aspect communication of believers with the Father God and his Son, Jesus. This is an activity that is characterized as calling on God.

Psalm 17:6

“I call on you, O God, for you will answer me; give ear to me and hear my prayer.”

Prayer is calling on the name of the Lord (Genesis 4:26), crying aloud to the Lord (Psalm 3:4), lifting up one’s soul to the Lord (Psalm 25:1), seeking the Lord (Isaiah 55:6), and approaching the throne of grace with confidence.

Hebrews 4:16

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Because Christ understands and sympathizes with our weakness we can confidently come to Him at the throne of grace, knowing that our prayers and petitions are welcomed and desired by our Heavenly Father. It is called the “throne of grace,” because from it flows God’s love, help, mercy, forgiveness, wisdom, spiritual power, spiritual gifts, the fruit of the spirit, and all that we need in any circumstance.

One of the greatest blessings of salvation is that Jesus is now our High Priest, our Mediator, who opens the way for us to come to the Father with confidence for all areas of need in our lives. We should not pray to any other “saint.” Scripture teaches that Jesus Christ is the only Mediator and we are to go directly to the top (Jesus our High Priest) because the communication line is open directly and our prayers will be answered.

Hebrews 10:22

“Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.”

Faith and drawing close to God through Jesus Christ are inseparable. Faith is defined as truly coming to God and believing in His goodness. By coming to God through Jesus, one finds mercy, grace, help, salvation, sanctification, and cleansing. Surely, this implies that where there is no coming close to God in prayer and fellowship with Christ, there is no saving faith. Jesus himself equates faith with earnest prayer to God.

Luke 18:8

“I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

When Jesus comes back for those who cry out to Him day and night, He will put an end to the distress and suffering received at the hands of a hostile and evil world. He will take true believers unto Himself at His coming for His faithful church. They will be caught up together in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air (Rapture). Then God will administer his justice and wrath on the wicked.  Jesus’ question in Luke 18 probably indicates that as the time draws near for his return, evil will become so dominant that many in the church will fall away from the kind of faith that perseveres in prayer.

As we approach history’s end, the question for all believers is this: “Am I persevering in faith, continuing diligently in prayer and calling on God that justice may be done and His righteous cause may triumph completely and forever?” “Or am I so preoccupied with this life that I am not looking forward to Christ’s return and his eternal kingdom?”  The Bible provides clear reasons why Christians should pray. First, we are commanded that believers are to pray and the command comes from prophets, apostles, psalmists and most important, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Matthew 24:41

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing but the body is weak.”

God desires our fellowship. Through prayer we maintain and grow in our relationship with him. Prayer is the important link to receiving God’s blessings and power and to receiving the fulfillment of his promises. Many Bible passages point out this principle. Jesus promised that believers would receive the Holy Spirit if they persisted in asking, seeking, and knocking at the door of our heavenly Father. After Jesus ascended, his followers together joined in prayer in the upper room until the Holy Spirit was poured out on them on the day of Pentecost.  The apostle Paul often asked for prayers on his behalf knowing that his work would not be successful unless Christians prayed for him. God’s plan of salvation has included ordained believers to be co-workers with Him. Intercessory prayers of believers are needed to reach the Lord for others.

God desires to send out workers with the gospel to reap a harvest and this will be accomplished to God’s full-purpose through believer’s prayers.  God’s power to accomplish many of his plans is released through the believer’s earnest prayers on behalf of the progress of his kingdom. If we do not pray, we may actually obstruct the timely accomplishment of God’s redemptive purpose for ourselves, as well as for the church.  There are requirements that must be met for our prayers to be effective. For our prayers to be answered, we must have a sincere, true faith. Jesus said:

Mark 11:24

“Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours.”

We are to pray in Jesus’ name as Jesus had expressed this:

John 14:13-14

“And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”

This means we should not be praying anyone other than God the Father in Jesus’ name. Our prayers have to be in harmony with the Person, character and will of our Lord. Our prayers are effective when it is in His will and He will answer.  Jesus,’ Lord’s Prayer confirms, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). We can know that any prayer based on God’s Word will be effective.  Sometimes God’s will becomes clear only as we earnestly seek to find what it is; and once we know what it is we can pray with confidence and in true faith that God will answer.

We also have to be living in harmony with God’s will if we expect Him to hear us and answer. He will give us what we want only if we seek first His kingdom and his righteousness. As long as we obey His commands and do as he pleases we can ask (1 John 3:22). Loving God, pleasing Him and obeying his commands are all requirements for receiving answers to our prayers. We must be righteous through faith in Christ and living a righteous, God-fearing obedient life. If we continue habitually practicing sin in our lives, the Lord will not listen to our prayers.

Psalm 66:18

“If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.”

Those who take pleasure in unrighteousness will have no hope of answered prayer when they pray to God. He wants us severed from sin; only then will he answer us as a Father would to a son and daughter. For our prayers to be effective, we must be persistent with faith.

Matthew: 7:7-8

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you, for    everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”

Jesus is encouraging us to persevere in prayer in continued prayer. This means we must keep on asking, seeking and knocking. Asking implies consciousness of need and the belief that the Lord hears our prayers. Seeking implies earnest petitioning along with obedience according to God’s will. Knocking implies perseverance in coming to the Lord even when he does not respond quickly.

Christ’s assurance that those who ask will receive what they ask, relies on: Seeking the kingdom of God, recognizing God’s Fatherly goodness and love, praying according to God’s will, continuing fellowship with Jesus and obeying Him. We should also adore and praise the Lord with thanksgiving. We should give sincere confession of sins before our Lord asking forgiveness of them. We are also to pray according to our needs. We are to pray fervently for others. We ought to pray in sincerity of heart. Empty words or rituals will not be heard. Such examples should fill us with the holy desire and faith to pray effectively according to the principles given in God’s Word.