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Keys To Effective Prayers - Rev. Kola Ewuosho
“The earnest (heartfelt, continued prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working]” (James 5:16 Amplified Bible.) “If you abide in me and my words abide in you, you will ask what you desire and it shall be done for you” (John 15:7). “And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” (Matthew 21:22). We have many promises in the Bible that help us develop confidence in the place of prayers as well as God"s willingness to hear and answer us when we pray. However, one of the unresolved issues in the lives of many Christians is the subject of unanswered prayers. I have heard people say God can say “yes”, “no” or “wait”. Is this true? There are many unanswered prayers in the lives of many believers. Some have no idea what God wants or what His plans are for their lives, so they grope in the dark concerning why prayers do not get answered. What are the keys in getting answers to prayers?
There are 5 key points that we must understand for us to function well in God"s Kingdom where prayers are concerned. There are also different types of prayers and they all have different principles that govern them. In the field of sports, the rules that govern basketball are different from the rules for soccer or football. Applying a different set of rules for the wrong sport will create confusion. We need to apply the rules for basketball to the basketball game and the same for football. Applying the rule of one type of prayer to another type will cause confusion and produce unanswered prayers. We need to know the rules that govern the type of prayers we are praying.
These are the five most important things we need to know about prayers:
1. We pray to the Father in the name of Jesus Christ. (John 16:23-24).
2. When we pray we should believe we receive according to Mark 11:24.
3. When we stand praying we should get rid of unforgiveness in our hearts. (Mark 11:25-26).
Any offence or bitterness in our hearts will hinder our faith. Our hearts need to be right with God because faith works by love.
4. We should depend on the help of the Holy Spirit in our prayer life. (Romans 8:26). He helps our weaknesses as we do not know how to pray as we ought.
5. We should regularly build ourselves up in our most holy faith praying in the Spirit (Jude 20). We edify ourselves when we pray in tongues (1 Cor. 14:4).
Prayer is a relational issue. We build our relationship with God through faith in the finished work of Calvary. We receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour and He becomes our high priest and intercessor. We have access to the Father in His name. His name represents His authority, character and identity. The goal of prayer is that the will of the Father be done on earth. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil. Sin is the main work of the devil; it grants him (Satan) access to the human life. Through the destruction of sin, by taking it upon himself, Jesus also made a way for us to come boldly to the throne of grace, to obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. We are not trying to twist God"s arm to give us what He is reluctant to give, rather we are cooperating with Him for His plans and purposes to be fulfilled on earth. His power is released to back His will, His plans and purposes on the earth. Our knowledge of His will and ways and a lifestyle of obedience position us to cooperate with Him through the different types of prayers. We receive grace to become all He wants us to become and do all He wants us to do. When we give God our attention, He plants the desires of our hearts. When we hear His Word, faith is planted in our hearts and as we act on His Word, our faith grows. When we speak His Word, we build and release our faith in His ability and we start to see results. “Now this is the confidence we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we asked of Him.” (1 John 5:14-15). In summary we start by being sure that what we want to pray about is according to His own will; that is ascertained by knowing His Word in the Bible. We apply the right kind of prayer in faith and we do it all in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF PRAYERS
There are different types of prayers. There is the prayer of repentance from sins. We see this type of prayer in the lives of Nehemiah and Daniel. They used this kind of identification in intercession to deal with sins before they asked God to do things for their people or the land. They understood, amongst other things, that cultural sins can be generational and they can have an effect on the efficacy of their prayers. Jesus came to identify with us in our sins, so when we pray, it is good to ensure that we do not have un-confessed sins in our lives. Heart sins are very blinding, so many do not even know they are in their hearts. A prayer of repentance will be a time to do a heart check for sins of pride, un-forgiveness and hidden bitterness towards others, as well as a critical spirit and the likes. Sin as an issue needs to be dealt with if we are going to be effective in praying. See Nehemiah 1:4-11 and Daniel 9:2-19. In 1 John 1:9 we are assured that “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive and cleanse us from all unrighteousness”. So we can come boldly to the throne of grace to obtain mercy and find grace to help in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16) Our High Priest, who forever lives to make intercession for us, also sympathises with our weakness as He was also tempted but was without sin. We cannot continue in sin and expect grace to abound, so we should have zero tolerance for sin if we want to develop an effective prayer life. The other types of prayers include the prayer of thanksgiving, praise and worship; the prayer of commitment; the prayer of warfare; the prayer of petition, supplication and intercession and the prayer of faith. We also have the prayer of declaration, where we pray as we are inspired to make certain declarations in faith.
Each type of prayer has its rules and produces different kinds of results. Prayer is communion with God for His will to be done on earth. Prayer is the believer"s privilege for God"s power to be made available to make a difference on earth. It is our tool for dominion on earth. Our focus and motives affect the effectiveness of our prayers. Our faith in God is exercised through our prayers. We can pray without faith but we cannot have faith and not pray. Just like we can give without love, but if we have love, we will give. In Philippians 4 from verse 6, we read about being anxious for nothing but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let our requests be made known to God, and the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds. We see the combination of the different types of prayer being brought together to make our requests known to God. The prayer of commitment is the prayer we pray when we cast all our cares on the Lord. In 1 Peter 5:5-8, we see that the way to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God is to cast all our anxieties (cares) on Him. This becomes the prerequisite for being able to resist the devil. When we are anxious, we find it difficult to be sober, if not impossible. Then, resisting the devil (warfare prayer) becomes difficult and sometimes ineffective. In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed the prayer of commitment when He said “not my will but yours be done”. He committed Himself to the will of the Father by submitting His will to the will of the Father. In Ephesians 6:18 we are encouraged to pray all prayers (supplication, intercession and all manner of prayers) in the spirit with perseverance (endurance).
THE POWER (OF THE PRAYER) OF WORSHIP
“Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at His footstool; He is holy” (Psalms 99:5). “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him and bless His name” (Psalms 100:4). Like all other types of prayer, worship has different dimensions. Worship is the all-encompassing word that incorporates the elements of thanksgiving, praise, adoration and celebration. Becoming a worshipper is more than having an ability to sing. Worship is a lifestyle. It can be carried out as an act and a service to God. The first mention of worship in the Bible is found in Genesis 22:5, where Abraham, in obedience to God, was taking his son Isaac to offer him as a sacrifice to Jehovah. He said he and the young man will go yonder and worship. Here worship is seen as obedience, sacrifice of something dear to yourself and a willingness to allow God"s instruction affect your life. If Isaac were to be killed, there would be no more Isaac for him and he would have to live without his son. In worship he was ready for a change in his lifestyle. A worshipper is one who reckons with God so much, that what matters to God matters to him. He comes into alignment with God"s plans and purposes for his life. This is a dimension of worship. When we embark on a series of adoration, thanksgiving and praise to God, we are said to be worshipping as an act. When this is done with a heart of giving God His rightful place as King in our hearts, the purposes of God can be released on the earth.
The Bible says He inhabits the praises of His people. The examples we have in the Bible all have elements of sacrifice, honour for God and then expectation. In Acts 16, Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises and their bonds were loosed. In 2 Chronicles 20:20-24, we see Jehoshaphat putting the praise singers ahead of the soldiers, and God worked a great victory for them. These examples show that God"s power is released to produce deliverance for God"s people when they offered their worship in accordance with the revelation of it. By their revelation of worship (with respect to the release of God"s power), they engaged in praising God and the power of God made the difference in their situations. Are there things for us to learn in these situations? When we offer the prayer of worship, and put it in its right place in our lives, we learn to stay humble, carry His presence in our lives and experience His power in our circumstances. We will do what James 4:8 says we should do: draw near to God and He will draw near to us. We are the determining factor for how close we are to God. The constancy of our dependence on God, submitting to Him as well as humbling ourselves under His mighty hand are all established as we engage in the proper worship of God. These will position us to successfully resist the devil, who is constantly wanting us to walk in pride, and he will flee from us (James 4:7).
THE POWER OF THE PRAYER OF WARFARE
“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments (imaginations) and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought to the obedience of Christ,” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). This is the dimension of our personal warfare where we deal with thoughts and imaginations that constantly bombard us from the kingdom of darkness. Our weapons include the Word of God, the Blood of Jesus and the Name of Jesus. Apostle Paul said the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds etc. So we have weapons and also strongholds that need to come down. Clearly there is a type of prayer, with its dimensions, called warfare prayer. What principles govern this type of prayer? To be effective in this type of prayer we need to see the place it occupies in the scheme of things. When Apostle Paul talked about it in the book of Ephesians, he put it at the end of a long discussion on the believers" position, the believers" responsibilities, and then the believers" relationships, before the believers"warfare.
The first key here is to know who you are in Christ. We need to have a heartrevelation of what the finished work of Calvary has made available to us in the newness of our identity and the power that backs the authority we carry when we stand or pray in the name of Jesus. The next key is to cultivate a lifestyle of obedience and build healthy relationships that are based on the Word of God. In our obedience we take responsibility for our maturity and conformity to the image of our Lord Jesus Christ. A whole lot of issues we have with the enemy are issues that affect our maturity. God"s power flows down through channels of authority so when we stay under his authority, His power is guaranteed. Staying under implies obedience and humility amongst other things. The next key is to know your enemy; know his allies, like the flesh, the worldly systems and demonic schemes. Their goal is to steal, kill and destroy and they are committed to doing so if you let them. The next key is to know the weapons of our warfare and the whole armour of God. Our weapons are the Word of God, the Blood of Jesus, and the Name of Jesus. We launch our weapons in prayer, praise and confessions. According to 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, our weapons are mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. It is interesting to note that all these things we are battling against are all in the mind realm: thoughts, high things (arguments), imaginations (mental pictures) and strongholds (preconceptions). The enemy uses the carnal mind, trained by the old (adamic) human spirit to generate these things so he can thwart the purposes of God in the lives of people. When we speak God"s Word in prayer or praise or in confessions, we attack these fortifications of the enemy and they come tumbling down.
Putting on the whole armour of God has to do with being spiritually dressed up for battle with principalities and powers. In Ephesians 6, the Apostle Paul was discussing other aspects of the Christian life when he came up and said finally put on the whole armour of God... “Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:11-12). He also says we do not war after flesh and blood but against principalities and powers etc. Whereas flesh and blood contributes to our warfare, because the flesh is an ally for Satan and his schemes, we do not focus our warfare on human beings. There are principalities and powers to contend with in the heavenly places. We are instructed to “submit to God and resist the devil and he will flee from us”. Through our habits of obedience we are advised to “give no place to the devil”. As part of God"s army, we put on the whole armour of God and take our stand against the wiles of the enemy. Our whole armour consists of, amongst other things, the girdle of truth (that is a life of integrity); the breastplate of righteousness to protect our hearts from condemnation; our feet ready to preach the gospel also serves to protect our feet and movements; the helmet of salvation serves to protect our minds from thoughts detrimental to our salvation; the shield of faith is the all-round protective shield that quenches the fiery darts of Satan and the sword of the Spirit is the Word that the Spirit quickens in us to use against the works of darkness. The sword of the Spirit is the only offensive weapon we have. Warfare prayers, like other types of prayers need to be developed so we can become skilful in our engagement with the enemy.
THE PRAYER OF FAITH
“And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up” (James 5:15). This is the one that has attracted a lot of controversy. There is the case of how many times should I pray the prayer of faith. When the will of God is known and the Holy Spirit has not revealed anything that can hinder our faith from being effective, we can pray the prayer of faith and expect God"s power to make a difference in the situation. Faith is of the heart. When we do not allow doubts in our hearts according to Mark 11: 22-24, we can be rest assured that we shall have what we say.
The principles that govern the prayer of faith are as follows:
1) Learn to speak the desired results. Speak to the mountain to move or the tree to be uprooted
2) Doubts should not be tolerated in the heart. This is possible when you meditate in the Scriptures that promise the results you are praying for.
3) Believe that what you say shall come to pass.
4) Maintain a heart contact with God for any fresh instructions from the Holy Spirit as you stay dependent on Him for your results.
This prayer changes things. In Acts 3, when Peter prayed for the man at the gate Beautiful, the principles of the prayer of faith were engaged. He said it was faith in the name of Jesus that made the man whole. In the name of Jesus Christ, rise up and walk! He was pulled up and his ankle bones received strength. Peter"s action showed he believed that what he said was going to come to pass.