Prayer is Communication with the Father, our Creator. Before Salvation we have no communication with the Father. Just the fact that People like us can speak to the Creator of the universe is itself an amazing thing. Even more astounding is the fact that He hears us and acts on our behalf! The first thing we need to understand about effective prayer is that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ had to suffer and die on the cross to even make it possible for us to approach the throne of grace to worship and pray.
Hebrews 10:19-23 (NLT) 19 And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. 20 By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. 21 And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, 22 let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water 23 Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.
Without Jesus the only prayer God hears is that of repentance. If you are not saved God is not obligated to listen to any of your prayers.
Isaiah 59:1-2(HCSB) Indeed, the Lord’s hand is not too short to save, and His ear is not too deaf to hear. 2 But your iniquities have built barriers between you and your God, and your sins have made Him hide His face from you so that He does not listen.
Psalms 66:17-19 (HCSB)I cried out to Him with my mouth, and praise was on my tongue.18 If I had been aware of malice in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. 19 However, God has listened; He has paid attention to the sound of my prayer.
Fortunately, 1 John 1:9 (HCSB)if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness”
Jesus’ first cleansing of the temple is described in John 2:13–17(HCSB) 13 The Jewish Passover was near, so Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple complex He found people selling oxen, sheep, and doves, and He also found the money changers sitting there. 15 After making a whip out of cords, He drove everyone out of the temple complex with their sheep and oxen. He also poured out the money changers’ coins and overturned the tables. 16 He told those who were selling doves, “Get these things out of here! Stop turning My Father’s house into a marketplace!” 17 And His disciples remembered that it is written: Zeal for Your house will consume Me. This cleansing occurred just after Jesus’ first miracle, turning of water into wine at the wedding in Cana. This is the first of the two times Jesus cleansed the temple. The Synoptic Gospels do not record the temple cleansing mentioned in John, they only mention the temple cleansing that occurred during Passion Week.
The second cleansing of the temple occurred just after Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem during the last week of His life.
Matthew 21:12-13(HCSB)12 Jesus went into the temple complex and drove out all those buying and selling in the temple. He overturned the money changers’ tables and the chairs of those selling doves. 13 And He said to them, “It is written, My house will be called a house of prayer. But you are making it a den of thieves!”
This second cleansing is recorded in Matthew, Mark, and Luke but not in John. There are slight differences in the two events, aside from them being close to three years apart. In the first cleansing, the Jews confronted Jesus immediately (John 2:18), whereas in the second cleansing, the chief priests and scribes confronted Him the following day (Matthew 21:17–23). In the first cleansing, Jesus made a whip with which to drive out the sellers, but there is no mention of a whip in the second cleansing. So there are two recorded occasions when Jesus cleansed the temple—the first time at the beginning of His public ministry, and the second time just after His triumphal entry into Jerusalem shortly before He was crucified.
Jesus is pretty serious about prayer and His Father’s house.
Jesus is the gate into the House of Prayer, repentance is the key.
John 10:1(ESV)“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6 This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.
The Bible tells us that true repentance will result in a change of actions Acts 3:19(ESV) Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out,). Acts 26:20 declares, “I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.” The full biblical definition of repentance is a change of mind that results in a change of action.
Repentance and faith can be understood as “two sides of the same coin.” It is impossible to place your faith in Jesus Christ as the Savior without first changing your mind about who He is and what He has done. Whether it is repentance from willful rejection or repentance from ignorance or disinterest, it is a change of mind. Biblical repentance, in relation to salvation, is changing your mind from rejection of Christ to faith in Christ.
Barriers to effective communication with God
1. Praying with selfish desires and wrong motives. James 4:3(ESV) When you ask you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures”.
2. Rejecting God’s call or ignoring His advice Proverbs 1:24-28 (HCSB)24 Since I called out and you refused, extended my hand and no one paid attention, 25 since you neglected all my counsel and did not accept my correction, 26 I, in turn, will 27 when terror strikes you like a storm and your calamity comes like a whirlwind, when trouble and stress overcome you.28 Then they will call me, but I won’t answer; they will search for me, but won’t find me.
3. Worshipping idols (Jeremiah 11:11-14(ESV)11 Therefore, thus says the Lord, Behold, I am bringing disaster upon them that they cannot escape. Though they cry to me, I will not listen to them. 12 Then the cities of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem will go and cry to the gods to whom they make offerings, but they cannot save them in the time of their trouble. 13 For your gods have become as many as your cities, O Judah, and as many as the streets of Jerusalem are the altars you have set up to shame, altars to make offerings to Baal.14 “Therefore do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer on their behalf, for I will not listen when they call to me in the time of their trouble.
4. Turning a deaf ear to the cry of the poor Proverbs 21:13(HCSB) The one who shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will himself also call out and not be answered.
Far too often, prayer is viewed as a “magic formula.” Some believe that if we do not say exactly the right things, or pray in the right position, God will not hear and answer our prayer. This is completely unbiblical. God does not answer our prayers based on when we pray, where we are, what position our body is in, or in what order we word our prayers. We are told in 1 John 5:14-15 (HCSB)14 Now this is the confidence we have before Him: Whenever we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked Him for. We are to have confidence when we come to God in prayer, knowing that He hears us and will grant whatever we ask as long as it is in His will. Similarly,
John 14:13-14 (HCSB)13 Whatever you ask in My name, I will do it so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it. According to these and many other Scriptures, God answers prayer requests based on whether they are asked according to His will and in the name of Jesus (to bring glory to Jesus).
The revelation about prayer, is that prayer is a 100% spiritual ministry.
Here are 4 important truths about prayer
1. Everything in the natural must be overcome and be brought under Spiritual Authority if you are to succeed with prayer.
2. Because Prayer is so effective and powerful, Satan fights it and you causing an unrelenting warfare on the spiritual battlefield.
3. This spiritual context has caused PRAYER to be one of -if not- the most misunderstood and least successful ministries in the Church.
4. THERE IS NOTHING NATURAL ABOUT PRAYER.
We all want our prayers to be “effective,” so much so that when we focus on the “results” of our prayers, we lose sight of the incredible privilege we have in prayer.
Although the Bible offers a great deal of guidance on how we can deepen our communication with the Creator, effective prayer has more to do with the one doing the praying than it does with “how” we are to pray. Indeed, Scripture says in James 5:16 (HCSB) 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The urgent request of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect., and in
1 Peter 3:12(HCSB)because the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are open to their request. But the face of the Lord is against those who do what is evil.
Psalm 34:15 (HCSB)The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry for help. and, again in Proverbs 15:8(HCSB) The sacrifice of the wicked is detestable to the Lord, but the prayer of the upright is His delight. Prayer saved the righteous Daniel from the lion’s den (Daniel 6:11), and in the wilderness, God’s chosen people benefitted from Moses’ right standing with God (Exodus 16–17). The barren Hannah’s steadfast and humble prayers resulted in the prophet Samuel (1 Samuel 1:20), and the apostle Paul’s prayers even caused the earth to shake (Acts 16:25-26). Clearly, the passionate prayers of God’s righteous children can accomplish much (Numbers 11:2).
We also need to make sure that our prayers are in line with God’s will.
1 John 5:13-15(HCSB) 13 I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.14 Now this is the confidence we have before Him: Whenever we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked Him for. Praying in accordance with God’s will is essentially praying in accord with what He would want, and we can see God’s revealed will throughout Scripture.
Additionally, prayer is something believers should do “constantly”
1 Thessalonians 5:17(HCSB)Pray constantly. When we present our requests to God, we are to pray with faith, with thanksgiving, with a spirit of forgiveness toward others in Christ’s name, with a heart that is right with God. It’s the strength of our faith, not the length of our prayers that pleases Him to whom we pray, so we don’t need to impress God with our eloquence or intelligence. After all, God knows what our needs are even before we ask. Also, we should make sure we have no unconfessed sin in our hearts when we pray, as this would certainly be an impediment to effective prayer.
The closest the Bible comes to giving a “pattern” for prayer is the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:5-13 (ESV)5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
7 “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. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,hallowed be your name.10 Your kingdom come,your will be done,on earth as it is in heaven.11 Give us this day our daily bread,12 and forgive us our debts,as we also have forgiven our debtors.13 And lead us not into temptation,but deliver us from evil.
Please understand that the Lord’s Prayer is not a prayer we are to memorize and recite to God. The Lord’s Prayer should be understood as an example, a pattern, of how to pray. It gives us the “ingredients” that should go into prayer.
Here is how it breaks down:
“Our Father in heaven” is teaching us whom to address our prayers to—the Father. “Hallowed be your name” is telling us to worship God, and to praise Him for who He is.
The phrase “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” is a reminder to us that we are to pray for God’s plan in our lives and the world, not our own plan. We are to pray for God’s will to be done, not for our desires. We are encouraged to ask God for the things we need in “give us today our daily bread.” “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” reminds us to confess our sins to God and to turn from them, and also to forgive others as God has forgiven us.
The conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” is a plea for help in achieving victory over sin and a request for protection from the attacks of the devil.
This is an example of the things that should go into a prayer—worship, trust in God, requests, confession, and submission. We are to pray for the things the Lord’s Prayer talks about, using our own words and “customizing” it to our own journey with God. The proper way to pray is to express our hearts to God. Sitting, standing, or kneeling; hands open or closed; eyes opened or closed; in a church, at home, or outside; in the morning or at night—these are all side issues, subject to personal preference, conviction, and appropriateness. God’s desire is for prayer to be a real and personal connection between Himself and us.
Philippians 4:6-7(NLT) Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. This tells us to pray without being anxious, to pray about everything, and to pray with thankful hearts. God will answer all such prayers with the gift of His peace in our hearts. The proper way to pray is to pour out our hearts to God, being honest and open with God, as He already knows us better than we know ourselves. We are to present our requests to God, keeping in mind that God knows what is best and will not grant a request that is not His will for us. We are to express our love, gratitude, and worship to God in prayer without worrying about having just the right words to say. God is more interested in the content of our hearts than the eloquence of our words