The title of this message is “Being a prayer focused Christian”. In this message I want to look at what the Bible says about prayer and the attitudes of faith that we should have as we pray.
Prayer is one of the key aspects of the Christian life. Prayer helps us to communicate with God and develop our relationship with Him. As we pray we also bring our prayer requests and we ask Him to help us in the things we do, bless those around us or we ask God for wisdom or direction.
As Christians we want our prayers to be effective. We want to know that our prayers are being heard by God and will be answered. In this message I will look at what the Bible says on the subject of prayer and see how we can be more effective in our prayer. I want to look at the Divine element of prayer and the human element of prayer.
The Divine and Human Elements of Prayer
When we look at prayer there are two aspects or elements to prayer – the Divine aspect and the Human aspect. The Divine element deals with who do we go through to pray, in whose name we pray and what if any role does the Holy Spirit play. The human element looks at things like our attitudes and behaviours we have when we pray lives.
The Divine Element
1. Praying through Jesus Christ
Romans 1:8 – First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world.
Colossians 3:17 – And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
The Bible tells us in a number of places that we approach God the Father through Jesus Christ. These two verses are Paul talking about prayer and coming through Jesus. We come to the Father both for salvation (John 14:6) and when we bring our prayer requests to God.
These two verses show us that the way to the Father is through Christ Himself. He is our intermediary. We don’t go to the Father through Mary, we don’t approach the Father through Saints, we go straight to God the Father through our faith in Christ. He is the door way to the Father.
2. Praying in the name of Jesus Christ
John 14:13-14 – And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
Ephesians 5:20 – Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Bible tells us there is power in the name of Jesus. Many of the great things the Apostles and the early church did were done in the name of Jesus. In Acts 3 Peter and John healed a crippled man outside the Temple. When they were called before the Council after healing and asked by what power they did this. Peter said, “Let me clearly state to all of you and to all the people of Israel that he was healed by the powerful name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, the man you crucified but whom God raised from the dead.”
Not only was this a bold answer but it un-mistakenly tells us where the power came from – Jesus! When we call on the name of Jesus we are calling on the power and authority Jesus has. These verses tell us that there is power in Christ’s name and that when we pray in the name of Jesus it brings results and brings glory to God.
3. Praying in the Holy Spirit
Ephesians 6:18 – And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
Jude 1:20 – But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.
Praying in the Holy Spirit means to pray while being in tune with the Holy Spirit and praying as the Holy Spirit prompts you. When you pray following the promptings of the Holy Spirit you are able to pray in line with the will of God.
As we can see on the screen, a key aspect of effective prayer is being open to the Holy Spirit’s promptings. When we do this, we can actually pray the way God wants and needs us to pray.
At times when I don’t know how to pray for people, I stop and ask the Holy Spirit to guide my prayer. The Holy Spirit is part of the Trinity or Godhead. He knows the outcome. He knows what need to happen. He knows how we should pray.
The Human Element
Now let’s have a look at the human element of effective prayer. This touches on the attitudes we have when we pray? Is there anything that we should or should not do? How should we approach God in prayer?
1. Pray in faith
Mark 11:24 – Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
The Bible tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). Matt Paxman touched on this in his message several weeks ago. If you missed it, it is on the website.
It is by faith that we believe God exists and that God answers our prayer requests. Having an attitude of faith is vital if we are asking God for something in prayer. What is faith? Hebrews 11:1 tells us, “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” Did you hear that? Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will happen. One of great friends used to say, “God says, I believe it, that settles it”. He was a man of strong faith. His trust in God and His Word was rock solid. I used to love when he prayed for me, because he had faith.
2. Pray with a heart free from sin
Psalm 66:18–19 – If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer.
Before we were saved our sin separated us from God. If we are a Christian and we have trusted Jesus for our salvation, we have been forgiven and we are right with God. However, if we cherish sin in our hearts it blocks us from having close and intimate fellowship with God. The key word here is cherish. Not just occasional sin where we do the wrong thing and confess it to God. It is talking about sin we hold so tightly that it squeezes God out. Hebrews 12:1 tells us, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” When this is the case our motives can become skewed and selfish. We need to keep our hearts right with God if we are wanting Him to answer our prayers.
One of my Pastors used this method to ensure that your prayer is complete by remembering ACTS — not the book of the Bible, but the acronym. The ACTS method of Christian prayer goes like this:
- Adoration: Give God praise and honour for who he is as Lord over all.
- Confession: Honestly deal with the sin in your prayer life.
- Thanksgiving: Verbalize what you’re grateful for in your life and in the world around you.
- Supplication: Pray for the needs of others and yourself.
When we pray this way, it keeps our prayers balanced in a way. They are about God His due honour, confessing our sin and being right with God, thanking Him for His blessings, and asking for our needs and the needs of others. The C helps us to pray with a heart free from sin.
3. Pray without doubting
Matthew 21:21 – Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done.
Sometimes we can pray and ask God to answer our prayers, but if we are honest we don’t always think He will. Many people in the Bible received an answer to prayer or were healed due to their faith. They had no doubts in who God was and, in His ability, to answer their prayers. They did not doubt, and God came through for them.
For us today, it is normal to pray and have doubts. We would not be human if we didn’t doubt at times. But we need to be like the father in Mark 9. His son had been demon possessed from childhood. He was mute and blind and would often throw himself in the fire. In Mark 9:23-24 Jesus interacts with the man about healing his son. “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” 24 The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”
Help me overcome my unbelief. These are very powerful words. They are a key to pray without doubting.
4. Pray with persistence
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 – Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Sometimes God answers our prayers straight away. At other times there seems to be a delay. We need to have faith and believe God can and will answer our requests in His time-frame. Sometimes that takes longer than we first thought so we need to be persistent with our prayers. We have all probably heard the story of the persistent widow in the Bible. This is a parable Jesus told His disciples. She kept on going back to the judge and asking him to rule in her favour. In the end he granted her request. In Luke 18:1 we learn why Jesus told his disciples this parable. It says, “One day Jesus told His disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up.”
So, keep on praying. Keep on believing. Keep on putting your trust in God. Pray with persistence.
5. With sincerity and simplicity
When we approach God in prayer we don’t have to use big fancy words to get His attention or to gain favour in the sight of others. We should just simply tell Him our needs. I find the prayers that work best are the ones when we just share our hearts with God in a sincere and simple way.
Matthew 6:5–8 – And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 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.
I remember as a new Christian one of the scariest things to do was to pray in front of others. I was very shy to begin with but praying or speaking in front of others terrified me. One friend I had was a few years ahead of me. He had a real Aussie accent and he spoke simply. When he prayed it was just like He was talking to a friend whom he respected and relied upon. His simple prayers with simple words, really impacted me. I didn’t have to pray like the most-high reverend I am have seen on tv. I could just be myself and talk to God.
6. Pray in accordance with God’s will
1 John 5:14-15 – This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.
Praying in accordance with God’s will is vital if we are going to have our prayers answered. How do we know God’s will? There are two key ways. Pray in tune with the Holy Spirit as we saw earlier and by praying with a renewed mind. The Bible tells us in Romans 12:2 “Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
If we renew our mind by reflectively reading the Bible, we will know the will of God. A renewed mind is more in tune with God’s purposes and can discern God’s will.
So how do we pray more effectively?
If we pray and approach God the Father through Jesus Christ, while praying in the name and power of Jesus Christ, our prayers will be most effective. As we pray we need to remember to be conscious of the promptings of the Holy Spirit as they will guide us in the way God wants us to pray to bring His will to pass. We also need to be conscious of the attitudes we have when we approach God. We need to come in faith, with a sincere heart that is free from sin and in accordance with God’s will we know our prayers will be heard and answered by God.
The Divine and Human Elements of Prayer
- Prayer through Jesus
- Pray in the name of Jesus
- Pray in tune with the Holy Spirit
- Pray in faith
- Pray with a heart free from sin
- Pray without doubting
- Pray with persistence
- Pray with sincerity and simplicity