James 5:16 states that “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much (NASB).” Another translation states that effective prayers “make tremendous power available, dynamic in its working.” Wow! What an amazing statement. Jesus goes even further than this in the Gospel of John to declare to those under His authority, that whatever we pray for, in His name, we can have! What an audacious truth! Yet how many people consistently still offer up sincere, heartfelt prayers, without ever seeing the desired result? Could it be that something is wrong, not with the promise, but with our asking?
Could it be that something is wrong, not with the promise, but with our asking?
Do you desire to pray with more power and render more effective prayers? I believe this desire is absolutely possible if we commit to becoming clearer, more specific, and more consistent.
In the next three articles–including this one–we are going to take an in-depth look at how we can incorporate these three life principles of clarity, specificity, and consistency into our daily prayer lives.
To pray effectively, we must first be clear channels in our asking. For example, if you happened to be overwhelmed from heat and were given the option to drink a clear, cold glass of water or one that was somewhat cloudy, which would you choose? The first one, of course.
In this same manner, we are to prepare a clean heart when we pray. Proverbs 4:23 admonishes us to guard our hearts, for out of it flow the issues of life. Legitimate, sincere prayer, comes from the heart. Therefore, the condition of our heart becomes a central component for effective prayer. Without faith, it is impossible to believe God. The heart is the seat of our affections, our innermost will, and our emotions. It is also the place where we first believe, according to Romans 10:10.
The condition of our heart becomes a central component for effective prayer.
In the eleventh chapter of Mark, Jesus is teaching His disciples to pray. In verse 24, He unleashes this amazing promise. He states that, “Whatever things you desire, when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you shall have them.” Jesus then immediately follows this promise with a fine-print clause, giving us warning that, “When you stand praying, forgive, if you have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses” (Mark 11:25-26).
Why would Jesus give us a warning about forgiveness when teaching on prayer? Speaking is the second conduit of a person’s belief system.
For with the heart man believers unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Romans 10:10 KJV)
Jesus knew the essential truth of this reality. And He understood that if the hearts of His disciples’ betrayed their words, their prayers would be rendered ineffective, null, and void. Utterly powerless. Thus, He always starts with the heart.
In 2 Corinthians 4:13, Paul states that “we first believed, and therefore we speak.” Without the right belief system, our prayers become hindered, checked, and unclear.
Have you ever had a clogged kitchen sink? It is nearly impossible to get anything to pass through that drain and it becomes hardly usable until it’s fixed. In that same matter, it is extremely difficult to get a prayer through if our prayer pipe is backed up. Thus, the condition of our heart becomes the main priority before we attempt to express it in the place of prayer. Once we are fixed, the Spirit of God begins to flow through us again.
Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. (1 John 3:21, 22)
Our words in prayer are secondary to the condition of our heart. As we guard it and keep our channels clear, we will definitely begin to pray more effectively.