How is your prayer life? Have you been receiving responses to your prayers? Have your prayers been answered, or have your issues just eventually worked themselves out? Perhaps your prayers haven’t been answered at all. After you contemplate these questions, depending on the answers, perhaps your prayers are not effective at all. The purpose of this article is to share the elements for effective prayer that will enable your prayers to be answered.
Elements for Effective Prayer
The elements for effective prayer involve our actual prayers and our lives—our lifestyles, our thinking, and our motivations.
The first and foremost of the elements for effective prayer is to pray sincerely to the true God.
This element requires faith. Scripture confirms this by stating in Heb 11:6, But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”
If we want to get answers from the true God, we must believe that He is the true God and seek Him diligently—attentively—conscientiously—thoroughly, and tirelessly. Faith pleases God, and He rewards us for it.
Therefore, we must pray to Him continually to give us the faith we need. We must learn to believe in the promises of God. Learn to believe that God is real and has perfect love, perfect wisdom, and perfect power. We must realize that He will keep all His promises!
The bottom line is, we simply cannot please God without real, genuine faith. The Bible makes it crystal clear that God will not hear and answer prayers unless He is approached in faith. James 1:6-7 reads, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord.”
The true God is the Father of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. As Paul wrote in 1 Cor. 8:5-6
5 “For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), 6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.” NIV
We must honor and show our love to the true God by obeying Him as Jesus said in Matt 19:17
“There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.” NIV
This is how God rewards us, both in this life and the life after.
The next of the elements for effective prayer is to study the Scriptures.
If we truly believe in the true God, then we must believe what He says, and the only way to know what He says is to read His Word. But not just read it but study and meditate on it. This action goes beyond going to church and occasionally reading the Scriptures for inspiration and comfort.
The Scriptures themselves instruct us on how to approach the Word of God in 2 Tim 2:15, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” We must study in order to be approved by God and correctly explain the Word of truth to others.
To know and understand God; to believe in His promises, we must study His Word regularly and pay close attention to the examples of answered prayers. The Scripture must be studied slowly and carefully while paying attention to the promises and answered prayers. So when observing specific promises, we must ask God to fulfill them in our lives. When observing that Jesus and others asked for certain things, understand that these are examples to follow. In all
of our prayers, we must follow the example of Christ and the Apostles. May our prayers be the same as theirs as we face similar hardships and struggles.
Therefore, we must leave behind the memorized, often empty, prayers of conventional religion and begin to truly study the teachings and examples relating to prayer in our own Bibles. We must allow the inspired Word of God to teach us how
to pray and what to ask for. In addition, believe the teachings and the promises found within the pages of Scripture.
The next of the elements is to sincerely repent of sin.
This action is the fundamental step for having a relationship with God. Even though God answers the prayers of anyone who openly cries out to Him in time of need occasionally, He is not bound by His Word to do this. That is why individuals will ask, where was God when… However, the question to ask ourselves is, do I worship the true God? Am I diligently seeking Him? Am I
doing His will?
It is wise for us to be honest with ourselves on that question. It is very easy to devalue or reason around and philosophy this unambiguous scriptural doctrine about obeying God’s law. However, if we want real
answers to our prayers, we need to fully repent of breaking the Ten Commandments (the Law), defined as sin. 1 John 3:4 tells us, “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.”
This repentance is in addition to accepting Jesus Christ as our personal Savior. Acts 2:38 reads:
38 “Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” NIV
When we accept Christ as Lord and Savior, acknowledge that we are sinners, and confess our sins, that is fine. But confession is only half of the equation because we must repent of them as well. Scripture says in Prov. 28:13, “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.”
Therefore, sin must be confessed and forsook (abandoned) to receive mercy, blessings, and answered prayers.
Then, in the course of the assistance of the promised Holy Spirit, we will need to surrender
more and more each day to allow Jesus Christ to live His obedient life in us. Remember what the Apostle Paul declared: ‘I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
Bonafide repentance entails a total surrender of our minds, hearts, and wills to God the Creator and requires the acceptance of the death of His Son in payment for sin. For sin demands death. That is why Christ had to “pay” the death penalty on our behalf. As the Apostle Paul wrote: “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
May we not allow Christ’s death to be in vain. As we “grow
in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ
“(2 Peter 3:18), He will live His life in us more and more fully throughout our Christian lives.
By walking with Christ in this manner, we can be assured of having more powerful answers to our prayers.
The next of the elements for effective prayer is forgiveness..
Forgiveness is another vital key to answered prayer; our willingness to genuinely forgive others. The fact is our loving Father in heaven simply does not hear those who come to Him with a spirit of bitterness, hatred, or revenge in their hearts. Immediately after giving us the “Lord’s Prayer”—the prayer describing the basic pattern for praying to God, Jesus went on to instruct His followers: “If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses”
Therefore, we must draw near to God in a humble, repentant, and forgiving
attitude. If not, as Jesus said, God will not forgive us! A spirit of humility and mercy is a crucial element in whether or not God will hear us as we pray. His inspired Word tells us in Isaiah 66:2: “But on this one will I look: on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word.”
The next of the elements for effective prayer is to seek God’s will.
Another key to successful prayer is to be as sure as possible to align our
requests with God’s will.
Let’s look at how important this is in Matt 7:21
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. NIV
Our very entrance into heaven hangs on doing the will of the Father. Jesus said that only those who do the will of His Father in heaven are only those who will enter the kingdom of heaven.
Doing God’s will implies a relationship with God — the ability to communicate with him, know his will, and perform it. Such “fruit” reveals one who will enter the kingdom of heaven.
Further, 1 John 5:14-15 says,
14 “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us — whatever we ask — we know that we have what we asked of him.” NIV
We can have the assurance that God hears our prayers if we ask according to His will. God has made known His will to us in His Word. His will for us includes all the great things of life, including answered prayer.
We must nourish our minds on God’s Word by saturating them and our hearts with it, persistently reading and studying with an open mind, contemplating on and honestly seeking God’s will as illuminated in His inspired Scripture. Subsequently, we will learn how to walk with God, pray to God, and fellowship with God.
The lesson is that if we genuinely desire to do the will of the great God who created us and gives us life and breath, we should vigorously “seek” Him with all our hearts.
Finally, the lesson is that if we genuinely want to do the will of the great God who created us and who gives us life and breath, we should vigorously “seek” Him with all our hearts, mind, and strength.
Ultimately, we must act on His will and “walk with God,” as did Abraham, David, Jesus, and the many others whom God sets for us as examples in inspired Scriptures.
The next element for effective prayer is to be persistent.
Before God intervenes supernaturally, He desires to know that we sincerely want whatever we ask for and that we will respect and worship Him for answering our prayer.
To put it another way, God uses our need or desire as a means to pull us closer to Him spiritually, to cause us to focus on His will and on what is actually best for us and for anyone else who might be involved. What would it signify if we carelessly requested something and then, in effect, forget that we ever did? That might indicate to God that we are not very interested in His doing what we ask! On the other hand, it could be that all of our desires are shallow, possibly constantly changing and that we would not feel a profound sense of appreciation and worship even if He always answered such shallow prayers! God desires praise and the Scriptures encourage it. Ps. 107:8 says, “Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!” God deserves praises for His overall goodness and mercy.
We show our sincerity by being persistent and knowing, through faith, that He is going to answer them.
God desires for us to be persistent. He wants us to talk with Him, walk with Him, and connect with Him continually day after day in this age and ultimately throughout eternity! As the Apostle Paul instructs, “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
The next element for effective prayer is to pray with fervor.
James 5:16 reads:
16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
The Christian’s most powerful resource is communication with God through prayer. However, it helps significantly to pray with fervor—with great intensity of feeling. One of the reasons we may not receive answers to our prayers is we do not put our hearts into our prayers. God knows when this condition is present, and He does not hear these prayers.
Look at what He said in Hos. 7:14
They do not cry out to me from their hearts but wail upon their beds. They gather together for grain and new wine but turn away from me. NIV
God looked upon the prayers of the Israelites with disdain because they were not praying from their hearts.
Therefore, let us put our hearts into our prayers. Let us be fervent. Let us be passionate as we pour out our hearts to the awesome God who loves us dearly.
The next and final element for effective prayer is to pray in the name of Jesus.
In the Old Testament, only the high priest was permitted to enter the Most Holy Place of the tabernacle or temple—, which was entering into the very presence of God. In addition, he was commanded to go there only once a year, which was on the Day of Atonement (cf. Leviticus 16). Outside of this one single day, any individual entering this sacred room would be immediately put to death by God Himself! In the same way, mankind, as a whole, has been removed from direct contact with God.
However, with the arrival, death, and resurrection of Jesus came the advent of a New Testament. Because Jesus died for our sins, true and faithful Christians have direct access to God the Father (Hebrews 9:12-15). Instead of fearing death for going before God, we are instructed: “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need”! (Hebrews 4:16).
By the name, the office, and authority of Jesus Christ, we can approach God directly in prayer and worship. We no longer require any human priest as an intercessor. Because we already have the most excellent
High Priest—Jesus Christ (v. 14). As He taught His faithful followers: “Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:23–24).
We have the assurance that God hears our prayers if we are in Him, that is, in Christ. We can approach God in Christ and Christ alone. Christ alone is the righteous One, the only perfect Person; therefore, He single-handedly has the right to stand before God. Any person who desires to draw near to God must do so in the name of Jesus Christ. An individual must have faith in the name of the Son of God and approach God in His name. The name of Jesus Christ is the only acceptable name to God, the only name that can receive anything from God.
Lastly, for our own good, we should study and review all of these vital keys! They are the ingredients for powerful prayers and will increase our prayer power.
We must constantly pray to God (1 Thess. 5:17), connecting and walking
with Him. Subsequently, as the end of this age approaches and the extraordinary trials
and tests of the whole Christian life come upon us, as they surely will, we will know precisely what to do and how to do it.
Questions, comments, and concerns are fully welcomed below. You will receive a response.