The secret to effective prayer is faith in Jesus Christ and absolute trust in the Word He has spoken.
Know in your heart that the prayer you are asking for will be answered — know this even at the moment you ask. Believe with all your heart that God has already answered your petition even before you finish praying.
As Jesus’ disciples stood looking and discussing in astonishment the results of one of His miracles, the Lord told them:
“Have faith in God. I tell you solemnly, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Get up and throw yourself into the sea’, with no hesitation in his heart but believing that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.”
“I tell you therefore: everything you ask and pray for, believe that you have it already, and it will be yours. And when you stand in prayer, forgive whatever you have against anybody,so that your Father in heaven may forgive your failings too.” (Mark 11:20-25).
Jesus attached these two directives, prayer and forgiveness, on purpose.
Prayer is related to purity of heart. Our Lord went to the cross for one purpose, to take away our sins so that we could stand chaste before God.
Jesus has shown us in the quotation above that the power we receive from the cross is perpetually renewed by forgiveness. The cross is not historic. It pours out God’s sanctification continuously. And we have been given power by God to daily bathe our soul in the divine river of atonement that floods from it.
As we forgive others, God perpetually forgives us. This is a dictate of Christ from the throne of God. In that act of faith the power of our prayer is intensified. We know this because Jesus minced no words when He said it:
“This is my commandment: love one another, as I have loved you.
You did not choose me, no, I chose you;
and I commissioned you to go out and to bear fruit, fruit that will last;
and then the Father will give you anything you ask him in my name.
What I command you is to love one another.”
We cannot truly love one another if we harbor bitterness in our hearts. This is why we must release such bonds, and the way we release them is through the action of forgiveness in prayer.
Forgiveness is one of the deepest parts of love because it is one of the most difficult to give. But anger is devastating to prayer. “Enough of anger, leave rage aside, do not worry, nothing but evil can come of it: for the wicked will be expelled, while those who hope in God shall have the land for their own.” (Psalm 37:8-9).
It is love that relates to prayer, not perfection. Paul said that faith makes its power felt through love. (Gal.5:6).
Nowhere in scripture does it state that God answers the prayers only of the perfect. That is because no one is perfect in God’s eyes. The only condition imposed on us is that we bear fruit in His name. And the fruit He wants us to bear is that we love one another. (John 15:12-17).
His commandments, the four Gospels of God, show us in great detail how to love one another.
The Bible tells us that in God, progress is what makes perfection. It says that in progress we are blameless:“Only the man who makes progress, as the blameless do, can be my servant.” (Ps.101:2,6).
That means that if we live in the faith of Christ and love one another, we will always be blameless before God and heirs to all the promises He has made to us. That inheritance includes control in the use of His Power.
All of God’s power comes to us through prayer.
Prayer is not just a device for communication like a telephone to heaven, it is the actual channel through which the power of God flows. Prayer is like an immense electrical conduit through which power flows from heaven into our bodies and souls, and to wherever we direct it to go.
God’s religion is based on this conduit. It is totally formed on prayer. It is written in scripture: “My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples.” (Is.56:3-8).
When he dedicated in the city of Jerusalem the very first Hebrew temple ever built, Solomon called out to God from the altar and begged Him to listen to the people’s petitions if they agreed to confess their sins and repent by prayer in His name. (2 Chron.6:21-39).
If they agree to do that, Solomon pleaded with God,“hear their prayer and their entreaty, uphold their cause, and forgive your people the sins they have committed against you.” (2 Chron.6:36-39).
That very night God appeared to Solomon and answered his plea. “…if my people who bear my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my presence and turn from their wicked ways, I myself will hear from heaven and forgive their sins and restore their land.” (2 Chron.7:12-14).
Since these were the conditions formulated in the Bible specifying the mechanism through which God’s power could flow to earth, this template of the agreement between God and Israel has been followed by Jews and Christians ever since.
Jesus did not change this agreement. “Do not imagine that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete them.” (Matt.5:17-19).
That is why we see confession and repentance stressed in scripture so heavily in relation to prayer and the atonement that surrounds it. (Psalm 32:1-8; 51, etc.). There are scores of quotations throughout the Bible in both Testaments telling us that God rewards according to behavior. (Matt.16:27; Jer.17:10).
So it is faith that makes all of this work. And that faith is simple. It does not require perfection, only complete surrender to Christ and belief in His power.
People who do not pray — people who do not believe in prayer — are convinced that they can do everything themselves. They surrender nothing. They have no faith.
The Holy Spirit has instructed us to do and be otherwise. “Do not be like senseless horse or mule that need bit and bridle to curb their spirit (to let you get near them)…Many torments await the wicked, but grace enfolds the man of God.” (Psalm 32:9-10).
“If you are willing to obey, you shall eat the good things of the earth. But if you persist in rebellion, the sword shall eat you instead.” (Is.1:19).
Those who fall to their knees in humility and supplication to God, surrendering their power to Him completely and trusting in the integrity of His promise are rewarded in overwhelming measure for their faith.
“They cry for help and God hears and rescues them from all their troubles; God is near to the broken-hearted, he helps those whose spirit is crushed.” (Psalm 34:17-18). When faith is accompanied by humility, it is turbocharged, because a crushed spirit always brings God close.
“I live in a high and holy place, but I am also with the contrite and humbled spirit, to give the humbled spirit new life, to revive contrite hearts.” (Is.57:15).
While praying (and after praying) believe that you your request has been granted before you see the answer. Scripture is clear that we must live by faith. “Only faith can guarantee the blessings that we hope for…” (For a long and Spirit-filled dissertation on this, see the Book of Hebrews, Chapter 11).
Suffering is a part of our training (Heb.12:7), so we must endure in faith even while God is reprimanding us in His love, and not get discouraged. By faith we must know that God will — and has already — answered our prayers. We do not see it, but it has happened, and it has happened through faith.
And finally, as you finish praying, thank God for having already answered your prayer. Praise Him and thank Him in the name of Jesus and in the name of the Holy Spirit. And then have patience.
Accept like a little child that God has answered your prayer completely.
The prayers of children are extremely powerful. Their faith is pure. So encourage children who are in Christ to add your petitions to their own.
“People brought little children to him, for him to lay his hands on them and say a prayer. The disciples turned them away, but Jesus said, ‘Let the little children alone, and do not stop them coming to me; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs’.” (Matt. 19:13-15).
Do not doubt. Filled with faith, Peter began to walk on water. “But as soon as he felt the force of the wind, he took fright and began to sink. ‘Lord! Save me!’ he cried. Jeus put out his hand and held him. ‘Man of little faith,’ he said ‘why did you doubt?'” (Matt.14:29-32).
Those who put their faith in the Gospel have left this world, and Jesus said there is no one who has left this world to follow Him that “would not be given repayment many times over in this present time and, in the world to come, eternal life.” (Luke 18:28-30).
God wants good things for us. (Is.1:19). He has surrounded us with the shield of heaven for our protection. “Should anyone attack you, that will not be my doing, and whoever attacks you, for your sake will fall.” (Isaiah 54:15). God’s Spirit enters us and guides us along a sure path. It teaches us, keeps us safe and it does not leave in the face of trouble or disaster.
Worry is an enemy to faith. So“Do not worry.” (Matt.6:31). “Nothing but evil can come from it.” (Psalm 37:8). Instead fill your mind with the peace of complete trust in His power and presence.
God is not impressed with one person more than another. (Eph.6:9). Everyone has been given God’s power equally. It is the inheritance of everyone who has faith in Jesus Christ. It is the power of the Holy Spirit.
God’s word created the heaven and the earth. With a single command from His mouth everything that is came into existance. (Psalm 33:6). And by that same word, and that same mouth, God has promised to give us anything we ask for in prayer. More than that, He has given us His guarantee in writing.
This is an absolute promise. It is not equivocal.
God’s word cannot ever fail. It is all-powerful and can do anything. And we have been given great control over its power through our faith in Jesus Christ.
And it is compounded when multiplied. Jesus said: “I tell you solemnly once again, if two of you on earth agree to ask anything at all, it will be granted to you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three meet in my name, I shall be there with them.” (Matt.18:19-20).
This is why group prayer is so powerful.
There are some cases where our petitions run counter to God’s interests. Paul discovered this when he tried to cast out a “thorn in his flesh”, an “angel of satan” Paul said, that beat him so that he would not become too proud. (2 Cor.12:7-10).
Try as he did, three separate times, to remove this thorn through prayer and faith, it stayed with him. God said to Paul, “My grace is enough for you; my power is at its best in weakness”. (2 Cor.12:9). God needed Paul to stay humble so that he would remain very powerful because He had been given such an important role to play on earth.
We should also remember that not all evil spirits are the same. Jesus told His disciples that some of Satan’s processes are more potent than others. Confronted with a demon they could not cast out, the Apostles were chided by Christ for their lack of faith.
Yet He also revealed that the demon they were working against on that occasion required special treatment. It needed to be augmented, He said, by prayer and fasting. (Mark 9:29).
The biggest problem, however, Jesus stressed over and over again, is not the power of the demon confronting us; it is our lack of faith.
“The Apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith’. Jesus replied, ‘Were your faith the size of a mustard seed you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea’, and it would obey you.” (Luke 17:5-6).
Since almost no one has trusted themselves to such an ultimate faith, God has given us measures which augment our access to His power.
Jesus said, “…persistance will be enough to make him get up and give his friend all he wants. So I say to you: Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For the one who asks always receives; the one who searches always finds; the one who knocks will always have the door opened to him. What father among you would hand his son a stone when he asked for bread?” (Luke 11:8-12).
“If you then, who are evil, know how to give your children what is good, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13).
God is our Father. He will only give us what is good. If our own children were to come and ask us to let them play ball on a freeway, or give to the three-year old a razor blade, we could not grant them their literal requests for safety’s sake. But we could give them something better.
God has the same problem with us. That is why we need to trust Him so implicitly. Because just like little children, we often do not know what the razor blades and freeways are in our own lives, or what their danger is to our souls.
That is because we live in exile in a place the Bible calls Babylon. What we see by its godless and highly publicized light are images of the things most glamorous to those who dwell here — the wormwood they eat and the poisoned water they drink. (Jer. 23:15).
God will not give us a scorpion even if we ask for it thinking it is a boiled egg. (Luke 11:12). He does not give out wormwood or poison.
God came to rescue us from Babylon. There is a great catastrophe coming to this place because of sin and God has sent His Christ to rescue everyone willing to listen to Him and follow Him to the place of safety God has prepared.
God answers our prayers as a bonus to salvation, not as a substitute for it. That is why we must have faith and let Him award our petitions in His own way.
If time goes by and you still cannot see that your prayers have been granted, ask God why. Persist in this if you do not agree with, or understand His answer. If you persist, He will explain in terms that you will totally understand.
And when He does, you will know that God did, indeed, hear you, and that He did for you much more than what you asked of Him.
Increasing the Power of Prayer
- Pray to God in the name of Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
2. Surrender your problem entirely to God.
3. Your release should be total and complete.
4. Be humble. This is why many kneel.
5. Forgive all your enemies by name.
6. Have faith. Do not doubt.
7. Know that your prayer has already been answered.
8. Have patience. God is granting a perfect fulfillment.
9. Do not impose limitations which restrict God’s answer.
10. Thank God in advance and praise Him.
11. Pray in a group of at least 2 or 3.
12. Petition church prayer groups to include your prayers.
13. Encourage small children to also pray.
14. Do not discourage prayer in tongues.
15. Persist. Do not give up.To this list most ministers would also add:
Confess your sins to God.
Repent in earnest
And if you have not aleady done so,
Commit your life to Christ.