For Christians, prayer is simply talking to God. Prayer is a part of many religions that pray to “a god or gods.” However, the focus of this article is on the biblical teaching about prayer and its implications. When Christians pray they offer up their desires to God; desires that are in line with God’s will and are prayed for in the name of Jesus. Prayer also includes confession of any sins and thanking God for His unlimited grace and mercy.
In prayer, a Christian talks to God and God, in turn talks back through His Holy Spirit and His Word. It is through prayer that one discovers the will of God. God knows all about us. While He never condones our weaknesses, He has made ample provision for our recovery and victory. All we need to do is sincerely confess our sin and rest in His promise of forgiveness.
Christians need to emulate the prayer life of Jesus. Just as Jesus desired to be alone with the Father, we too should desire to be alone with Him. Jesus believed in prayer. Through His intimate relationship with the Father, Jesus knew the effectiveness of prayer and the power of prayer. Jesus taught that prayer works. God the Father desires to meet our needs and to respond to the requests of His loving and obedient children. Like Jesus, we can have full confidence the God answers prayer. We simply need to comprehend the mind and heart of Jesus. Then pray like Jesus prayed.
There are many wonderful prayer promises found within the pages of Scripture and God is The One who hears and answers prayer. Answered prayer builds our confidence and gives us boldness to ask God for even greater things. The Bible is the believer’s prayer guide and reveals the nature and necessity of prayer. Prayer is a privilege and should be a vital part of every Christian’s life. Following is a list of eleven pointers for effective and powerful prayer. In addition to the nine shown with the photographs, here are two additional points:
10. We should pray according to the will of God
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22: 42) Jesus committed Himself to undergo both physical death and spiritual separation form His heavenly Father in order to achieve our salvation, (Matthew 27:46). His prayer was “heard” for He was strengthened by His Father to drink the appointed cup, (see Hebrew 5:7).
11. We should pray in faith believing
“Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” (Matthew 21: 21-22) Jesus is speaking of faith and prayer. Answers to prayer are related to our faith. Everything that is in harmony with God's will is possible to perform or receive for those who do not doubt, (Matthew 17:20, Luke 17: 5,6).
1. Christians are to pray in His name, the name of Jesus
“Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it,” (John 14:13). To ask in the name of Jesus means 1) the believer’s prayer should be for God's purposes and kingdom and not selfish reasons; 2) the believer’s prayer should be on the basis of God's merits and not any personal merit or worthiness; and 3) the believer’s prayer should be in pursuit of God's glory alone.
2. We should pray in a forgiving spirit
“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” (Mark 11:25) An all-inclusive statement that combines both sins and simple dislikes which cause the believer to hold something against another person. “Anyone” includes both believers and unbelievers.
3. We should avoid vain repetitions
“And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.” (Matthew 6:7) Prayers are not to be merely recited, nor are your words to be repeated thoughtlessly, or as if they were some kind of automatic formula. But this is not a restriction against praying with urgency, earnestness, boldness and relentlessness.
4. We should pray with insistence
“I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.” (Luke 11:8) Pray with impudence; pray with boldness and make your requests known to God without shame.
5. We should pray in sincerity
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.” (Matthew 6:5) Hypocrite in the New Testament, normally describes an unregenerate person who is self-deceived. They have received their reward; that they were seen by men, nothing more. A true believer does not pray simply to impress others. God does not reward hypocrisy, but He does punish it, (Matthew 23: 13-23).
6. We should pray from the heart
“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:6) Every believer should have some place to be alone with God. Jesus had His secret places (Matthew 14:23, Mark 1:35, Luke 4:42; 5:16; 6:12). Secret prayer is especially important because 1) in the morning believers commit their day to Him, 2) in the evening they give thanks to God for all of His mercies and 3) Christians are to pray as the Holy Spirit prompts them to pray.
7. We should pray with the Spirit and understanding
“You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.” (John 4: 22-23) Prayer is a form of worship and must take place according to the truth of God the Father that is revealed in the His Son, Jesus Christ and received through the Holy Spirit.
8. We should pray in truth
“God is spirit and His worshipers must worship Him in Spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24) Because Jesus is the truth (John 1:14; 5:31; 14:6), to live in union with Him requires speaking the truth. To claim to have fellowship with Jesus and to possess salvation, yet not to live and speak according to the truth, is to be deceived, (1 John 1:6).
9. We should pray with watchfulness
“Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:36) Christians must continually guard against sin and pray that their love toward Christ does not diminish, in order that they might receive grace and strength to persevere in the faith and righteousness in Jesus Christ.