The Key to Effective Prayer

“Prayer is a sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the heart or soul to God, through Christ, in the strength and assistance of the Holy Spirit, for such things as God has promised, or according to the Word of God, for the good of the Church, with submission in faith to the will of God.” ~John Bunyan

God responds to the prayers of his people. There is a door between us and God. It is the barrier between the spiritual and physical. There is a lock on the door and our prayer is the key that opens the lock. To unlock the lock the key (our prayers) must hit all the tumblers with several requirements, each of which is represented as a bump on the key.

These are the bumps on the key:

Prepare your heart for prayer  

But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (Matthew 6:6)

Clear away the obstacles in your heart

Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalms 139:23-24)

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. (James 5:16)

If I had cherished sin in my heart,
    the Lord would not have listened; (Psalm 66:18)

Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save,
    nor his ear too dull to hear.
 But your iniquities have separated
    you from your God;
your sins have hidden his face from you,
    so that he will not hear (Psalm 59:1-2)

 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’*  is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.  “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. (Matt 5:22-24)

an Aramaic word of contempt

Ask with the right intentions

When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. (James 4:3)

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)

Ask for what is within God’s will

So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.  You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.  (Heb 10:35-36)

Jesus says to “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things [practical needs] will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

Ask with faith

He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.  (Luke 17:6)

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. (1 John 5:14-15)

When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”  “Yes, Lord,” they replied.  Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you”; (Matthew 9:28-29)

Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.” (Luke 8:48)

Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.” (Luke 8:50)

Be willing to accept ‘no’ or wait for God’s timing

He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”  (Luke 22:41-42)

Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6 )

We wait in hope for the Lord;
    he is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice,
    for we trust in his holy name.
May your unfailing love be with us, Lord,
    even as we put our hope in you. (Psalm 33:20-23)

And He said to them, “It is not for you to know the times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.” (Acts 1:7)

Always pray but not with thoughtless rote repetition

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. (Luke 18:1)

But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.  (Matt 6:6-13)

Reference

The Long Road to Eternity by Rev. Dr. Timothy W. Ehrlich

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