When my son attended law school, he was obligated to take a course in mediation. He loved it. The objective, of course, is to bring two people together, sharing their side of the story, then helping them to see ways they could regulate the problem by mutual agreement. They wanted to avoid standing before the judge, or worse yet, before a jury. When I read Scriptures like the following I think of my son who was the one who laid his hand on both parties and brought them together. He told me he saw so many marriages restored and relationships regulated.
32 For He is not a man, as I am, That I may answer Him, and that we should go to court together. 33 Nor is there any mediator between us, who may lay his hand on us both (Job 9:32, 33).
From time to time, I wonder why we bother to pray. The Holy Spirit seems to pave a way for us, the Lord already knows all about our lives, so why do we need to remind Him? And frankly, I don’t know enough to even know what to pray for or how to pray for it. Fortunately, my Best Friend (the Holy Spirit) dangles a truth before my eyes that keeps me on the straight and narrow. John Wesley said it best: “It seems God is limited by our prayer life. He can do nothing for humanity unless someone asks Him.” So, yes, He already knows everything, but He depends on us to ask for what is needed. How do we know what is needed? We “seek first the Kingdom of God.”
True prayer is going to God and asking Him what He would like us to ask for! Amazing! Also, what a responsibility! That almost seems to indicate that the world is in the mess it’s in because God’s people have not spent enough time in prayer. How much time do you spend listening to God and then praying for what He sees the earth needs, or you, or your church, or your nation, or your family, or individuals you don’t even know . . . ? Don’t ask me the same question because I don’t even give prayer 10% of my day.
Think about that. If we give God 10% of our money, shouldn’t we also give Him 10% of our time? Martin Luther gave the first three hours of his day to the Lord in prayer and when asked if he didn’t think that to be a bit excessive, he replied that he had so much to do that he couldn’t afford to spend less time in prayer. If he did, he would never get everything done.
Prayer is a tremendous responsibility. God gave Adam full dominion over everything God had made. Adam passed that dominion over to Satan and lost his authority on earth. Consequently, all people lost that authority. When men aligned themselves with Satan they took advantage of that dominion and became tyrants. Then Jesus came, defeated Satan, and took back the dominion God had given Adam. Jesus returned that authority back to His followers, His believers, His born-again ones.
Now, we are responsible for everything God has made. How do we mere citizens of heaven take care of everything God has made? We pray and ask God how to take care of His creation, and then we ask God to perform the specifics He just gave us. This way of living gives us such a delightful manner of partnering with God. That’s what gives Him pleasure: our walking with Him hand in hand.
The Bible gives us all manner of prayers because one kind doesn’t always apply to other kinds. It is up to us to retrieve those forms of prayer from the Word of God and put them into action. It’s not that prayer has to formal and stiff, it’s that certain situations require a certain approach. Some of the kinds of prayer are as follows:
United Prayer, in which believers join together to pray in unity. Many revivals have been birthed in this manner.
23 And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them.
24 So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: "Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them,
25 “ho by the mouth of Your servant David have said: ‘Why did the nations rage, And the people plot vain things?
26 “‘The kings of the earth took their stand, And the rulers were gathered together Against the LORD and against His Christ.’
27 “For truly against Your Holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together
28 “to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done.
29 “Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word,
30 “by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your Holy Servant Jesus.”
31 And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness (Acts 4:23–31).
Praying in the Spirit, which means praying in tongues. I’m always grateful for my ability to pray in tongues because my logical mind runs out of things to say, and yet I can feel the prayer is not complete. I turn my prayer time into praying in tongues, and then when I have accomplished God’s will in prayer, I know I am finished praying. It’s quite a satisfying feeling!
14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. 15 What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding (1 Corinthians 14:14, 15).
The Prayer of Agreement is a powerful way to obtain on earth what God has in store in heaven. Make sure your partner is in full agreement with the cause.
18 “Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19 “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. 20 “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:18–20).
The Prayer of Worship puts us prostrate before the Lord in honor, in love, in expression of adoration.
52 And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God (Luke 24:52, 53).
1 Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, "Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." 3 Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away. 4 So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus (Acts 13:1–4).
The Prayer of Commitment in which we cast our cares on Him, transfers our fears, our anguish, our troubles over to Him and He transfers His peace, His assurance over to us.
Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).
The Prayer of Faith which is a prayer to change things. First find what you want in the Bible and base your prayer on the Word of God. Then believe that you have received what you’ve asked for.
“And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” (Matthew 21:22).
“Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them” (Mark 11:24).
The Prayer of Consecration is when we consecrate ourselves to God’s work giving Him the authority to use us as He sees fit. This is the only prayer in which we use the words “If it be Your will,” to end the prayer. The only reason such lacking in faith words would be used in prayer is because we may not know what His will is for our lives. All other prayer is based on the knowledge of God’s will since it is clearly written in His Word.
Saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.”(Luke 22:42).
Let me clarify one point. Not all prayer is made after we find out what we want; otherwise, it would not be that prayer is supplication. Supplication means we are making a humble and earnest request for ourselves, something we personally need or want.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; (Philippians 4:6).
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— (Ephesians 6:18).
1 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence (1 Timothy 2:1, 2).
As we can see, there are three categories of people to make supplication for, requests that are on our hearts.
One of the biggest supplications I make is for my unsaved loved ones. I have found by trial and error, they are NOT going to listen to me, but someone has to share the Gospel, the Good News, with them for them to accept Jesus as their Lord. So here is my supplication for them:
37 Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. 38 “Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” (Matthew 9:37, 38).
This is a prayer I can pray with great urgency and fervor! Can’t you? They may not listen to me, but there is someone who will get through to them and God knows exactly who that person or that situation will be! Glory! Hallelujah! My loved ones will be with me for eternity because God sent laborers!
Jesus is a member of my family. I freely talk to Him every day. My son and daughter talk to Him like He’s their best friend. My grandchildren have already learned and continue to learn about having a personal relationship with Him. From time to time, we share what we’ve heard or the results of having put into action what He said, but mostly we simply live our lives in contact with Him. We don’t apply our reasoning abilities or our logical thinking to our conversations with Him. Our prayers are heart to heart communications.
Of course, we know He already knows everything, but He expects us to treat Him like He is our Dad and explain to Him in detail our dreams, our hurts, our needs, our joys, etc. Sometimes just in the explanation we discover wisdom, and suddenly we know what to do. Sometimes while praying we discover His solutions, and we trip right over into thanksgiving. Sometimes we appreciate the fact that He is concerned with us, and that He wants to perfect that which concerns us, and the peace that passes all understanding fills our hearts and mind.
For centuries the Gospel of John was discounted as being non-essential. Matthew, Mark, and Luke were considered to have given instruction of exactly how things ought to be, while John gave wispy, imaginary episodes that taught nothing in particular. Now we know that John is the weightiest of the four gospels because he speaks mostly of the spiritual realm, the true realm that we who are born again are living in right now.
Jesus lived in both the natural realm, since He came to earth as a man, and He lived in the spiritual realm because He knew, being the God who laid aside His deity to live as man, with man, and as an example to man, He knew that the spiritual realm gives natural man his force. He had to demonstrate that to us as it had never been taught before. Here, at the end of His ministry, He gives key secrets to His prayer life.
In this particular study of Effective Prayer, we’re going to look at how Matthew treats the subject. He makes seven very strong points. He tells us what to pray for, what demeanor to have when we pray, to pray privately, to pray honestly, to form our prayers in a certain manner, about fasting, and to make our own petitions.
Many people wonder what exactly do we pray for? God already knows everything. We, the prayers, must realize that God can do nothing on this earth unless we ask Him to do it because He gave the earth to mankind. He can’t just meddle around with what He wants. But when we ask Him to do something, and that must be something specific, He is free to operate. That’s why we pray.
Love is the Foundation of Effective Prayer
If God is made out of love, and the Bible tells us He is love, and if He is the one who gives us new birth, and He does, then we are no longer this flesh and blood vehicle in which we navigate on this earth in the physical realm. We now have a new body as well as a new spirit. Our new birth happens by God inserting us into a body, as opposed to us coming out of a body in our natural birth. The new body, in which we now live and move and have our being, is called the Body of Christ. Just as we take care of our natural body: we wash it, we feed it, we lay it down to sleep, so we must take care of our new body, the Body of Christ.
How do we do that? It seems so vague and nebulous; an ill-defined existence to say the least. Our jumping off place must be: LOVE. Each of us is a love child, born of a love Father, made of the same stuff our Father is made of, and that’s love. So the way to operate in this new body is to let love have its way. We feed our natural body because it cries out for food. The Body of Christ also cries out for its food, which, of course, is love.
For many years, Christians referred to prayer as being only intercession. It’s easy to think that because intercession is often done in tongues, since we don’t know what to pray for as we ought, and any prayer can and should end in tongues. They also spoke about having a call to be an Intercessor. Unfortunately, they said that out of ignorance; they simply didn’t know their Bible. There are only two Intercessors mentioned in the Bible, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. However, all of us are called to intercede.
Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered (Romans 8:26).
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; (Philippians 4:6).
The word supplication means “to make requests for something.” We all have needs and desires, but do we adequately express them to our Lord? This word also means “prayer said in humility.” What is humility? The easiest definition is to say you know you are totally inadequate for the job, but God is totally adequate, and only He can get it done. Prayer said in humility means to make a request with fervency, an earnest entreaty. Here’s where passion comes into play. Lukewarm prayers don’t get much attention from you or from God. Remember He said He would spit the lukewarm Christians out of His mouth. He wants to know how you feel about the subject. Is this important to you? Limp prayers won’t get a response.
Experiencing God Through Prayer
I’m using the title of a book written by Madame Guyon as the title of this teaching. Madame Guyon lived in the 1700s and for twenty-five years she was imprisoned in the famous Bastille for her relationship with Jesus Christ. She believed in a personal friendship with Him, and her writings about her special bond with Jesus are most inspiring. American charismatics are well acquainted with her works, but I’m afraid French charismatics have been denied that privilege because her works were buried as being heresy. We know today that all of us want that deep connection with our Lord and that position is obtained by our prayer life.
To start this teaching, let me quote from this little book.
The following quotes are taken from “The Joy of Following Jesus,” chapter 13 – The Disciple’s Prayer Life, written by J. Oswald Sanders. Though the author stepped into heaven in 1992, a disciple’s prayer life is age-old and universal. (The explanations inside parenthesis are mine.)
“Prayer is . . . a blending of simplicity and profundity.”
“To the maturing disciple, God’s interests will always be paramount.”
“The first half of the (Lord’s) prayer is totally occupied with God and His interests. Only after that do personal petitions find a place. Worship, praise, and thanksgiving have first place.”
“Restful and trustful prayer has an important place in the Christian life, but Paul taught and practiced a different kind of praying. Only strenuous and aggressive prayer that laid hold of the power released by the cross and the resurrection would dislodge the enemy from his age-long stronghold.”