HOW TO PRAY EFFECTIVELY
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What is Prayer
Prayer is a two-way conversation with God. This involves directing our prayer to God, speaking out loud, listening and responding to Him (Ps. 5:3). There are corporate prayers, where we pray together for a certain outcome (Matt. 18:19; Acts 14:23), and where we are assembled together but we commune individually with Him (Acts 12:12; 20:36; 21:5). There are prayers we pray on our own, not to be seen by men, but pray in secret (Matt. 6:5-8).
God told us to (Luke 18:1; Phm. 1:4). Prayer releases our authority He has given us through our mouth (Rom. 10:10). It enables God to work through us, to meet His will on earth for us and others (Ezek. 22:29-31; John 15:7; Matt. 7:7-11; Ps. 91) e.g. prayer for salvation (Rom. 10:9-10; Matt. 9:38), empowerment of Holy Spirit (Acts 8:15; 19:6; Luke 11:13), protecting us against temptation (Matt. 26:41), giving us supernatural wisdom (James 1:6), healing (James 5:15-16), physical needs (Phil. 4:19), and much more…
Who do we pray to
To God our Father who is in Heaven (Matt. 6:9; 23:9; John 8:42). Jesus Christ’s sacrifice made it possible to have direct access to God as our Father (Heb. 4:16; John 1:12) and it is Holy Spirit who actually helps us (Rom. 8:14-15, 26). Can we pray with Jesus and Holy Spirit? Yes, Paul prayed to the Lord Jesus when he was being persecuted (2 Cor. 12:8-9) and so did Stephen (Acts 7:59). The early church communed with Holy Spirit regarding interpretation of scripture for He is our Teacher (Acts 10:19-20; 13:2; 15:28; 2 Cor. 13:14; 1 John 2:26-27; John 14:16).
How to pray
The key to prayer is to know God’s love has been provided in and through Jesus Christ and to respond accordingly (John 17:23; Acts 17:28; Rom. 5:10; 8:38-39). Know that He hears and responds. The pattern of prayer is to honor God as our Heavenly Father, seek His Will to be done, talk about expanding His Kingdom, forgive others, repent and depend upon Him (Luke 11:2-4; Matt. 6:9-15; John 17; Acts 4:24-30).
Few Types of prayer:
Prayer - to commune with a heart of worship/ obedience to Him (Matt. 6:8-12, 33).
Supplication - to request/ urge God’s blessing for self or others (Rom. 10:2; Luke 1:13).
Confession – to confess our need for Him and His promises (Rom. 10:10), including repenting for our sin (1 John 1:9; Rev. 3:19).
Intercessory – to commune with God on behalf of someone else (2 Cor. 1:11; Ezek. 22:29-31).
Thanks giving and praise – to express gratitude to Him (1 Tim. 2:1; Heb. 13:15).
These types of Prayer are mostly spoken out loud (Luke 11:2; John 17:1; 18:1), either in our natural language or in our spiritual language(s) called tongues. We pray in our understanding and sometimes not (1 Cor. 14:14-15).
Everyone who believes and is baptized in Holy Spirit can speak in tongues (Mark 16:17; Acts 2:4; 8:17-19; 11:15). Being baptized in Holy Spirit can be at the same time as conversion (Acts 10:44-46) or after (Acts 19:5-6; John 20:22 & Acts 1:8). Generally the person speaking in tongues doesn’t know what they are saying; they are speaking mysteries (1 Cor. 14:2), the wonderful works of God (Acts 2:11), and/or giving of thanks to God (1 Cor. 14:16). In the process they are edifying themselves (1 Cor. 14:2, 4; Jude 1:20).
How to Hear Him
It is rare, but He does speak audibly. Most times His voice speaks to our conscience, our spirit. It is Holy Spirit who bears witness with our spirit (Rom. 9:1; 8:16). His voice gives us an answer of inner peace (2 Tim. 1:7). An inner peace that isn’t based on logic, tradition or emotion but on an inner knowing it is right or no peace telling us it is wrong (Gen. 41:16, Ps. 85:8; Phil. 4:6-8; Col. 3:15, 1 John 2:27). His peace validates the word He speaks. Many times the Lord will answer the root of the question, the motivation for the request, not necessarily what is being asked (1 Chr. 28:9; Luke 1:18-20, 34-35). So check the motive.
Some ways He speaks -
· He reminds us of a specific Bible passage and it brings clarity to that exact area of need (2 Peter 1:19; Ps. 119:105,130; John 14:26; Matt. 4:4).
· A dream or vision burnt into our heart and we have difficulty shaking it (Job 33:15-16; Acts 10:17).
· Someone is sent to answer, or ask a question that inspires the answer (Acts 3:18-22; 1 Cor. 12:28; Num. 22:28-33). It confirms what we already know within (Acts 21:10-14).
· An impossible idea accompanied by His faith and favour to do it (Num. 14:6-9; Matt. 14:29).
· A thought reveals the answer, an Aha moment (Matt. 10:20; 1 Cor. 2:10; Jer. 1:11-12).
· A similar scenario is played out, exposing the answer (Acts 10:10-17; 2 Sam. 12:1-12).
· As we write to Him, He responds through the flow of the words (e.g. Ps. 3; 4; 5 etc.).
If unable to clearly hear Him then suppress the flesh with a fast! (Luke 5:35; Gal. 6:7-8; Acts 13:2; 14:23).
Barriers to Prayer -
· Not surrendering to Him as the source (Heb. 11:6; Ex. 3:14; James 4:7-8; Prov. 28:9; 2 Chr. 7:14-16);
· Being worldly and not God’s Kingdom focused (James 4:3; Matt. 6:20-33);
· Having an un-repentant heart (1 John 1:7-9; Ps. 66:18);
· Not praying from a transparent believing heart (Jer. 29:11-14; Is. 29:13; Mark 11:22-23);
· Having un-forgiveness towards others (Mark 11:25-26; Matt. 6:15);
· Not loving those in the Lord (John 15:7-12; 1 John 3:20-24; Matt. 5:23-24);
· Abstaining from good; not seeking justice, not rebuking those who oppress those who are suffering; not defending the fatherless, not pleading on behalf of the widow (Is. 1:15-19). Shutting our eyes and ears to helping the poor (Prov. 21:13). Ignoring the needs of our family (1 Tim. 5:8);
· Husband dishonouring their wife (1 Peter 3:7); wife not submitting to her husband as to the Lord (1 Cor. 11:10; Eph. 5:22).