As a Christian, prayer is one of the most important weapons that God has given us.
It is in prayer that we can enter into the presence of God to find peace, joy, comfort, and direction for our lives.
But, have you ever prayed and felt like God wasn’t listening or that your prayers weren’t being answered?
I know that there are times that I have felt this way.
Did you know that there are certain things that will make your prayer life ineffective?
Today I’m going to share with you how to pray and the steps you need to take to ensure that your prayers are effective.
How Do We Pray?
There are many different types of prayers and people have their own way of praying.
But for the sake of any new Christians that might be reading this post, I’m going to stick with the model prayer.
Follow The Model Prayer
I’m pretty sure most of us have heard of The Lord’s prayer.
If you’ve spent any amount of time in Sunday School I’m sure you memorized it or at least heard about it.
In Matthew 6, we find Jesus teaching his disciples about giving to the needy and instructions on how to pray.
Before he teaches them how to pray he gives them two warnings:
- Don’t pray for show like the religious leaders (vs 5-6)
- Don’t babble on and on like the pagans do (vs.7)
Then he teaches them how to pray:
9“This, then, is how you should pray: ” Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,[a] but deliver us from the evil one.’
(Matthew 6:9-13, NIV)
Since this is the model prayer that Jesus gave to his disciples we will use this as the basis for how we should pray and understanding how to pray effectively.
If we break down the prayer by verse we come up with 5 simple steps to prayer.
1.Address God Respectfully & Praise Him (verse 9)
When we pray we should come to the Lord respectfully and humbly.
The phrase” hallowed be thy name” means holy is your name.
We must always remember to revere and respect that name of God.
This can also be a form of praise to God because are expressing his holiness.
Are we being respectful we approach God in prayer?
2. Pray The Will of God (verse 10)
We must learn to pray God’s will.
How do we know the will of God?
The only way you can learn God’s will is by reading, studying his word, and spending time in prayer.
How do we pray the will of God?
By praying relevant scriptures and the promises of God found in the bible.
When we pray are we praying for God’s will or our own will?
3. Pray for your needs and the needs of others (verse 11)
Our daily bread represents the things that we need to live in the world.
Food, shelter, clothing.
In verse 8, Jesus tells us that God already knows what we need.
We don’t need to spend all of our time praying for ourselves.
This is the perfect place to pray for the needs of others and the world around us.
Are we only praying for our own needs and the need of our family?
4. Ask for forgiveness and forgive others (vs 12)
We should ask God to forgive us of our sins daily.
Even though we are Christians and have been saved by grace.
We are still humans and we are still imperfect.
Hence we still sin every day knowingly and unknowingly.
The word of God says that no one is righteous (Romans 3:10) and that we all fall short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23).
We should also forgive other people that have hurt or offended us.
Are we harboring unforgiveness in our hearts?
5. Protection from the schemes of the enemy (vs 13)
Pray for protection from the schemes of the enemy and that you will not fall into temptation.
If you are struggling with a specific temptation ask God to help free you from it.
Pray for wisdom and discernment.
That way will be able to see the tricks and the traps that the enemy has laid out for you.
Are we praying for protection from the evil one?
Please remember that this is a model prayer and that everything doesn’t have to be prayed in that specific order.
The elements of the prayer are what really matters when we pray.
Now that we’ve covered how to pray le’st talk about how to pray effectively.
How to Pray Effectively
While many people have differing opinions on how you should pray the Bible does make a clear distinction between effective prayers and ineffective prayers.
… The prayers of a righteous person is powerful and effective.James 5:12
Nobody wants or expects their prayers to God to not be heard, but the fact of the matter is that there are certain things in the life of a believer that can cause our prayers to be ineffective.
5 Practices That Can Cause Your Prayers to Be Ineffective:
When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.James 4:3
Are we being selfish with our prayers? Do we only pray about ourselves and what we want and need?
If you go back and read the Lord’s prayer you will discover that the whole prayer is written in plural possessive form.
Our Father, give us, forgive us, lead us.
Prayer is just not meant for us to pray about our own needs.
It is designed for us to pray for others as well.
2. Unconfessed Sin
But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid [his] face from you, that he will not hear.Isaiah 59:2
If we read the first part of James 5: 16, it instructs us to confess our sins one to another…unconfessed sin will cause your prayers to become ineffective.
That’s why we should always ask God for forgiveness every day.
But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord.James 1:6-7
This doesn’t mean that if we don’t believe that God won’t answer our prayers, but if we have unbelief in our hearts we shouldn’t expect God to answer us.
Unbelief often leads to our next topic.
We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He hears him.John 9:31
When we have unbelief in our hearts more likely than not if we do receive instructions from God we probably won’t follow them.
Instead, we will grow impatient and try to do things in our own strength and in our own power.
”14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”Matthew 6:14-15
We aren’t supposed to hold grudges and bitterness against people.
If you are having a hard time with this step ask God to help you forgive the person and help you let the hurt go.
When Jesus sacrificed his life for us, on the cross, our sins were forgiven.
In the same way, we are to forgive other people when they offend or hurt us,
Jesus sacrificed his life for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). We should be willing to forgive others.
I’m not saying forgiveness is easy, but if we pray and give it over to God he’ll help us get there.
5 Practices That Cause Your Prayers to Be Effective:
1.Praying The Scriptures (God’s Will)
… My word that comes from My mouth will not return to Me empty, but it will accomplish what I please and will prosper in what I send it to do.Isaiah 55:11
And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us.John 5:14
Praying the Will of God ensures that we are not praying the wrong thing or with wrong motives because we aren’t praying our own will, but God’s will.
If your not sure how to pray scriptures you can download my free sample prayer cards.
2. Confessing Our Sins
Remember sin separates us from God.
That’s why I feel that repentance should be one of the first things that we do before we pray for ourselves and other people.
We don’t want anything to block or hinder our prayers.
We must let go of our pride and truly repent of our sins.
Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.Mark 11:24
The life of a Christian is marked by faith.
It took faith for you to accept, Jesus as your Lord and Savior.
It takes faith to keep walking down the narrow road when everyone else is walking down the broad road.
It takes faith for you to read the word of God and hold fast to its principles when the rest of the world says what you believe is wrong.
Prayer is no different.
It takes faith to humble yourself and pray to a God that you can’t see.
And it takes even more faith to wait on the manifestation of that prayer.
4.Obedience to God
Just like unbelief leads us to disobedience, faith leads us to obedience.
When we have faith in God and in his character we will obey him because we believe his promises to us.
Even if he tells us to do something crazy like pack up all of our belongings and travel to a distant country.
Or to plant a church in the middle of nowhere.
Or to give your last $5 to the homeless man on the street.
It is in our obedience to his word and to his voice that our prayers are answered.
5. Be Fervent
What does it mean to pray fervently?
According to Merriam-Webster, the word fervernt means exhibiting or marked by great intensity of feeling.
When we pray we should be genuine and heartfelt in our prayers.
We don’t have to pretend with God he knows what’s in our hearts.
That’s why Christ encouraged us to pray in private because we can be honest and heartfelt.
We’re not trying to put on a show for the people around us.
That’s not to say that we can’t pray fervently and honestly in groups of people as long as our motives are right.
Let’s do a quick recap of everything that we’ve covered.
5 Steps to Prayer:
- Reverence & Praise God
- Pray the Will of God
- Pray for Yourself and Others
- Confess Your Sins and Forgive Others
- Pray for Protection from the Enemy
In order for our prayers to be effective, we must
- Pray the Scriptures
- Confess Our Sins
- Have Faith
- And Be Obedient to God
- Pray feverently
Remember my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
Prayer is our direct line to God. It is an important part of our relationship with God.
You can read more about the importance of prayer here.
The enemy would love nothing more than to keep you from praying and to make your prayers ineffective.
Now it’s your turn.
How do you pray? Do you follow the model prayer? Do you keep a prayer journal? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic.
If you liked this post don’t forget to like and share it with your friends.
Until Next Time,