Published on 10 May, 2017 Back to Blog

Effective Christian Prayer

Posted by Pastor Bankie

God answers prayers. Prayer is an effective tool He gave to us to get things done. Prayer is not merely a Christian mannerism and habit, but is a potent weapon of war and instrument of work for the believer. If we do it properly we will always see the results.

One major reason why prayer is not effective is that Christians often pray like Gentiles. Even though every person who believes in the supernatural and in one god or another prays, there is a difference between the prayer of a Christian and that of the gentiles.

According to the Lord Jesus, gentile prayers are marked by a focus on their needs and by meaningless repetition. Modern gentile-type prayers are also focused on imaginary enemies. Gentiles believe that the more they pray the more likely they are to be heard. So they spend long hours bringing their petitions to their gods. We see this in the case of the prophets of Baal as they challenged Elijah that day (1 Kg 18). The prophets of Baal spent hours crying to a false god, and of course, being a false god, he did not answer. Elijah’s’ prayer was short, sharp and effective.

Christian prayer is marked by faith. Faith says that God loves me. Faith says that God is my Father and He cares for me more than the beasts of the field and the birds of the air. He takes care of the animals that are worth very little, so I know He will much more take care of me. Before I pray, He knows my needs and is eager to supply them. I therefore do not think I am going to be heard for my much crying and shouting. I am not assuming this; those are the words of the Lord Jesus.

And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor… yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? …But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. Matt 6:7-8, 26-32

So why do I pray as a Christian?

It is because I need to give the Lord my voice of authority to do what He desires to do on the earth. Christian prayer therefore is not first about me but about God and His will. In prayer I sort of give permission to the Lord to do His will on the earth. It is like opening the door to someone who is at the door of your house and is knocking. He wants to come in but he needs you to open the door. He won’t knock the door down. You are not trying to persuade the person to come in; he wants to come in and that is why he is there.

God our Father has things that He desires to do on the earth and in our lives, and prayer is our opening the door for him to do those things. That was why the Lord Jesus taught us to pray thus:

Thy will be done on earth as it is (written or determined) in heaven.

Prayer is about birthing the will of God on the earth. That it is a prayer point shows that the will of God is not done automatically. It means that not everything that happens is the will of God.

God has His will recorded in heaven already, but for that will to be done on the earth, there has to be a voice of agreement from people whom he gave authority on the earth. The earth is under the authority of the people the Lord placed in there. The Bible tells us that “the earth He has given to the sons of men” Ps 155:16. That is why we pray.

When we pray, it is because we have discovered what is written in heaven, revealed to us in the word of God, and we are taking these things to the Lord to say to Him, “do them as you have purposed. We hereby, as people of authority on the earth, give you the right to intervene in our lives. We make You the Lord over our affairs, and we let this will of Yours be done.”

For this reason, effective prayer is based upon the knowledge of the will of God.

What is the will of God? It is not something that we do not know and we are only guessing concerning. It is not a resignation to whatever happens. It is not that we will say that anything that happens is His will. No, not at all. His will is that which is recorded and is revealed to us in Scripture.

When the Lord Jesus prayed, “nevertheless not My will but Thine will be done” in the garden, He knew the will of God that was recorded. He was there to pray for strength to go through the thing that He knew was the will of God. He said it Himself, that

Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour.” John 12:27

He knew the purpose was to die for the sins of mankind. He was the Redeemer and had to go through the cross. The will of God was clear to Him. He just needed strength to go through the cross.

When Daniel was going to pray for the deliverance of Israel, his prayer was based on the knowledge of the will of God. He was reading the book of Jeremiah and he noticed that the number of years which the Lord determined that Israel would be in captivity had been fulfilled, so he began to pray.

…I, Daniel, saw clearly from the books the number of years given by the word of the Lord to the prophet Jeremiah, in which the making waste of Jerusalem was to be complete, that is, seventy years. And turning my face to the Lord God, I gave myself up to prayer, requesting his grace… Daniel 9:2-3

So we see that Christian prayer is about bringing the will of God to pass on the earth and in our lives. This will is not an imaginary thing, whatever will be will be kind of attitude. No. We actually read His word and discover what He said is His will.

He said the Lord is my shepherd, so lack is not my portion. So when I go to pray about lack in my life, I am saying that that will of His should be fulfilled in my life. I am only coming to agree with Him concerning what He wants to do. When I pray about healing, it is not only because I am sick and I desire to be healed, but because I have noticed that healing is His will. He said clearly,

But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed Isaiah 53:5

Elsewhere He said, I am the Lord who heals you. Solomon expressed His will when he said that His word is medicine to our whole body (Prov 4:22).

These are the things that we take to God when we pray, and that is what Christian prayer is about. We do not pray for things that are not the will of God. It is not whether God wants me to have that car or not that is the issue; it is whether I have observed that His will guarantees me that all my needs will be supplied. That is the claim a Christian can make in prayer.

Now we understand what John meant when he said that “…this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us” (1 Jn 5:14). He was saying that we are to pray according to what is written. The Lord Jesus said His words are to abide in us before we can be guaranteed that we will make prayers that are effective. The reason is that it is only when His words abide in us that we can be in agreement with the will of God when we pray.

Many these days are praying against the will of God; all they are concerned about is that someone should die. They do not realize that the will of God is that He prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies. Jesus said to show mercy and to pray for those who hate you. That is praying according to His will.

So prayer is nothing more than lifting up the promises of God and saying to Him, “let these be done.” It is critical we understand this.

I said earlier that prayer is a weapon of war. It is good we see how this is to be employed, because life is an ongoing battle. Let us see the illustration from the battle of Israel against Amalek.

So Joshua… fought with Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. 12 But Moses' hands grew weary… Aaron and Hur held up his hands... So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek… with the sword. Ex 17:10-13

We see here that the success in battle was not determined by the skill and strength of Joshua and his men but by the position of the hands of Moses. Now it was not the hands of Moses per se but the thing it carried. Moses was raising up the staff of God in his hands. It was not just his hands lifted but that it carried up the staff of God. That represents the word of God to us today.

In prayer we are to persistently lift up the word of God until we see complete victory in our lives. That is what faith is. Faith is when we lift up the word of God and look at it persistently, attentively and with a steady and absorbing gaze. It is when we do this that we are healed, we have victory and all our needs are supplied.

Many times people say, focus on that need, see it being met. Draw a picture of that car you want, or of the husband or wife you desire. Focus on that image and it will happen. Now, as nice as it sounds, that is not Christian prayer; it is gentile prayer. It is nothing more than spiritism. True Christian prayer does not focus on the needs or the meeting of the needs but on the word of God, attentively and with a steady and absorbing gaze. It is when we do this that we are healed, that we have victory and all our needs are supplied.

Instead of painting the picture of a car, a Christian looks at the word of God. “He makes all grace abound towards me; I have all sufficiency in all things and I abound to every good work. The Lord is my shepherd and I shall not lack. No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly. He makes prosperity flow towards me like a river and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing stream.”

The word of God can do things. The Scripture says that the word is alive. It is a living thing that can make decisions. It will bring you the kind of wife you could not have imagined, It will give you a car actually better than the one you would have asked for; one that you can maintain and enjoy. It will bring you a job you did not even know existed and which is best situated to meet your needs and to prepare you for the future. The word can think. It can think, and faith is that we focus on the word and let it think out those specifics.


For more on my teachings on prayer, please visit the School of Prayer section of this website

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