There is a constant need for every
Christian to be engaged in prayers. One
of these is the pangs of life. But the
Bible tells us, "Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray.
Is any cheerful? Let him sing
praise. Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church,
and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and
the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and
if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.
Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another,
that you may be healed" (James 5:13-18).
The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects. Elijah was a man of like nature with ourselves and he prayed fervently that it might not rain,
and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again and the heaven gave
rain, and the earth brought forth its fruit.
Prayer is not confined to certain
limited forms. We are told by the
Scriptures to "Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and
supplication" (Eph. 6:18). As for
the modes of prayer, it can be silent prayer (I Sam. 1: 13); prayer with the
spirit, and prayer with the mind (I Cor.
14:14-15). To pray with the spirit means
that the Holy Spirit prays for us (Rom. 8:26-27).
The following suggests some basic
requirements for effective prayer:
1. Prayer with importunity
The Lord says, "Ask, and it
will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to
you- For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who
knocks it will be opened. Or what man of
you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a
serpent? If you then, who are evil, know
how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is
in heaven give good things to those who ask him" (Mt. 7:7-11). Ask, seek and knock all mean to pray. Seek and knock is a simile to the urgent mood
and action. The Lord teaches us to pray
with importunity (Lk. 11:5-13). He himself prayed earnestly in the Garden of Gethsemane (Lk.
22:44; Heb. 5:7).
II. Prayer in faith
The Bible says: In the morning, as
he was returning to the city, he was hungry.
And seeing a fig tree by the wayside he went to it, and found nothing on
it but leaves only. And he said to it,
"May no fruit ever come from you again!" And the fig tree withered at
When the disciples saw it they
marveled, saying, "How did the fig tree wither at once?" And Jesus
answered the, "Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and never doubt, you
will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to
this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea, it will be done. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will
receive, if you have faith’ (Mt. 21:18-22).
The mountain mentioned in the verse could mean a real mountain, but
could also be compared with a great difficulty.
The Bible says: Then he said to me, "This is the word of the Lord
to Zerubbabel: not by might, nor by power, but by my
Spirit, says the Lord of hosts. What are
you, O great mountain?
Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain;
and he shall bring forward the top stone amid shouts of 'Grace, grace to
it!'"(Zech.4:6-7)At that time, Zerubbabel, the
leader in the rebuilding of the temple, was facing a great difficulty. However, God said to him that even a great
mountain shall become a plain, which means even a difficulty as great as a
mountain will disappear.
The Bible says, '-The apostles
said to the Lord, Increase our faith. And. the Lord
said, If you had faith as a grain of mustard seed, you
could say to this sycamore tree, Be rooted up, and be planted in the sea, and
it would obey you." (Lk. 17:5-6). The mustard seed is the smallest of all seeds
(Mt. 13:31-32); which indicates that with a little bit of faith we can perform
a great task.
The Bible says, "If any of
you lack wisdom, let him ask God who gives to all men generously and without
reproaching, and it will be given him.
But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a
wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose he will
receive anything from the Lord" (Jas. 1:5-7). "Lacks wisdom," mentioned here,
especially refers to a situation of being stupefied and not knowing what to do
in adversity. We should pray for wisdom
as well as for deliverance in adversity.
III. Be persistent
The Bible says: And Jesus told
them a parable, to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose
heart. He said, "In a certain city
there was a judge who neither feared God nor regarded man; and there was a
widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying,
'vindicate me against my adversary. For a while he refused; but afterward he
said to himself, 'Though I neither fear God nor regard man, yet because this
widow bothers me, I will vindicate her, or she will wear me out by her
continual coming."' And the Lord said, "Hear what the unrighteous
judge says. And will not God vindicate
his elect, who cry to him day and night?
Will he delay long over them? I
tell you, he will vindicate them speedily.
Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on
earth?" (Lk. 18:1-8) Therefore, pray as this
widow did. Do not lose heart or stop
until you get what you ask for.
IV. Prayer according to the will of God
The Bible says, "And this is
the confidence which we have in 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 obtained the requests made of
him" (I Jn. 5:14-15). While the Lord was praying at Gethsemane, he said, "My Father, if it be possible,
let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt-"
And the second time, he said, "My Father, if this cannot pass unless I
drink it, thy will be done." And the third time he said the same words
This is our model. There is a
verse in the Lord's Prayer, "Thy will be done, on earth as it is in
heaven" (Mt. 6: 10). It means in
heaven all the angels obey the order of God so that God's will could be done
smoothly; on earth people should keep God's commandments as well. Paul did everything according to the will of
God (Rom. 1:10).
The Bible says, "You do not
have, because you do not ask. You ask
and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it one your Passions."
Therefore, we should not ask wrongly.
V. Observing God's commandments
The Bible says, "Beloved, if
our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and we receive
from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases
him. And this is his commandment, that
we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another,
just as he has commanded us" (I Jn.
3:21-23). God hears the- prayer of the
The Bible says, "For the eyes
of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those
that do evil" (I Pet. 3:12).
Why did God not hear the people of
when the whole kingdom fasted and prayed?
Because they had sins.
The Bible says, "Why have we
fasted, and thou sees it not? Why have
we humbled ourselves, and thou takes no knowledge of it? Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your
own pleasure, and oppress all your workers.
Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with wicked
fist. Fasting like yours this day will
not make your voice to be heard on high" (Is. 58:3-4).
The Bible says, "Behold, the
Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it
cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your
God, and your sins have hid his face from you so that he does not hear'
The Bible says, "Thus says
the Lord concerning this people: They have loved to wander thus, they have not
restrained their feet, therefore the Lord does not
accept them, now he will remember their iniquity and punish their sins. The Lord said to me: Do not pray for the
welfare of this people. Though they
fast, I will not hear their cry, and though they offer burnt offering and
cereal offering I will not accept them; but I will consume them by the sword,
by famine, and by pestilence" (Jer. 14:10-12).
Elijah prayed for rain and was
heard by God, because it was the will of God (I Kings 18:1). Secondly, he had solved the problem of sin
beforehand so that the people had turned their hearts to God (I Kings
18:16-40). Moreover, it was a prayer of
faith (I Kings 18:41-46).
VI. Pour out your heart
The prayer of Hannah was pouring
out her soul before God (I Sam. 1: 12-20), To pour out one's soul means to pour
one's heart out, that is, to speak out one's trouble before God, and ask for
The Bible says, "Trust in him
at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us" (Ps. 62:8). The Bible says, "Cry aloud to the Lord!
O daughter of Zion!
Let tears stream down your eyes like a torrent day and night! Give yourself no rest, your eyes no
cry out in the night, at the beginning of watches! Pour out your heart like
water before the presence of the Lord! Lift your hand to him for the lives of
your children, who faint for hunger at the head of every street" (Lam
The Bible says, "Let us test
and examine our ways, and return to the Lord!
Let us lift up our hearts and hands to God in heaven" (Lam.
3:40-41). To 'lift up our hearts and
hands to God in heaven" means to pray with our hearts.
VII. Prayer with one accord
The Lord says, 'Again I say to you, if two of
you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my
Father in heaven" (Mt. 18:19).
Daniel asked his three companions
to pray with him, and their prayer was answered by God at once (Dan. 2:17-19).
There were many cases of praying
with one accord during the apostolic period which could be our example (Acts
1:14; 4:24; 12:5).
VIII. Prayer with fasting
The Lord Jesus had been fasting
for forty days and forty nights (Mt. 4:2).
He also taught the disciples that, in order to cast out demons, they
needed to fast and pray (Mt 17:21). In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers who,
while they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, were instructed by the Holy
Spirit to send Barnabas and Saul for the work of preaching. After fasting and praying, they laid their hands
on them and sent them off (Acts 13:1-3).
When Barnabas and Saul appointed elders for the believers in every
church, they committed them to the Lord with prayer and fasting (Acts
14:23). Esther asked all the Jews in Susa to hold a fast with her for three days and three
nights, before she went to see the King despite the uncertainty of her own
safety (Esther 4:16). Ezra, while taking
a group of people back from Babylon, proclaimed a fast for their safety on
their way home (Ezra 8:21-23, 31). In Babylon, Nehemiah, hearing about the calamity of his
people in Jerusalem,
kept fasting and praying for them (Neh. 1:4). Later he went back to Jerusalem and with the Israelites assembled
for fasting and confessing their sins (Neb.9:1-2). Therefore, while facing a great trouble, we
should fast and pray.
However, the prayer acceptable in
the sight of God is to deliver those who are in great distress and to perform
good deeds extensively. The Bible says,
"Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to
undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every
yoke? Is it not to share your bread with
the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the
naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth like the
dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go
before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will
answer; you shall cry, and he will say, Here I
am" (Is. 58:6-9).
IX. Prayer of Intercession
Paul said to Timothy, "First
of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and
thanksgiving be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions,
that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every
way. This is good, and it is acceptable
in the sight of God our Savior' (I Tim. 2:1-3).
The Lord prayed for Peter (Lk. 22:32). He also prayed for the twelve disciples and
the churches in the future (Jn 17:9, 20). Paul prayed for the believers and asked the
believers to pray for him as well (Rom. 15:30-33; Eph. 3:1, 14-19; 6:18-20;
Colo. 1:3; 4:2-4). Moses prayed for the
people (Ex. 17:8-13; 32:7-14; Num. 14:1120).
So did Samuel (I Sam. 7:5-11, 23).
Therefore, pray for others or pray
for one another. This is acceptable in
the sight of God.
X. Praise and thanksgiving to God all the time
The Bible says, "Addressing
one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody
to the Lord with all your heart, always and for everything giving thanks in the
name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father" (Eph. 5:19-20). The Bible says, "Let the Word of Christ
dwell in you richly, teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, and sing
psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to
God. And whatever you do, in word or
deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the
Father through him" (Col. 3:16-17).
The Bible says, "Through him
then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name'
The old servant of Abraham prayed
all the way when he went to find a wife for Isaac. First he asked God for an arrangement (Gen.
24:12-14), and as soon as his prayer was granted, he prayed and gave thanks to
God immediately (Gen. 24:26-27,52). Daniel also prayed and gave thanks to God at
once while his prayer was answered by God (Dan. 2:19-23). Thus prayers are not only for supplications,
but also for thanksgiving and praise.
Furthermore, we should pray any time, anywhere.
The Bible says, "But I call
upon God; and the Lord will save me.
Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan and he
will hear my voice" (Ps. 55:16-17).
The Bible says, 'Seven times a day
I praise thee for thy righteous ordinances' (Ps. 119:164). Daniel prayed three times a day (Dan.
6:10). The Jews, during the apostolic
time, also prayed three times a day.
They prayed at the third hour of the day (nine in the morning), the
ninth hour of the day (twelve at noon), the sixth hour (three in the
afternoon), and they kept the time of prayers (Acts 2:15; 10:3, 9, 30). Therefore, we should pray often.