Christianity is more than a religion. It is primarily a relationship with God. Good relationships require good communication.

Prayer is two-way communication with God. In prayer, God speaks to us and we speak to Him, He listens to us and we listen to Him.

God primarily speaks to us through His Word, the Holy Bible. And when we speak to God, He listens to us and responds to our prayers with action.

What does prayer really do for us?

1. Prayer expresses our dependence on God.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
John 15:5

2. Prayer promotes change in our lives.

Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unploughed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, until he comes and showers righteousness on you.
Hosea 10:12

The unploughed ground represents areas in our lives that we have not surrendered to God. When we pray, the Holy Spirit convicts us of wrong desires and attitudes, and as we allow God to touch our hearts, we change.

3. Prayer connects us to the unlimited resources of God.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Philippians 4:6

4. Prayer gives us spiritual endurance.

Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.
Luke 21:36

5. Through prayer, God gives strength for difficult seasons of life.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being
Ephesians 3:16

6. Prayer keeps us spiritually alert and protected from the schemes of the enemy.

Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.
Matthew 26:41

There are different Types of Prayer.

To be truly effective in our prayer life it is essential to know that we understand the different kinds of prayer.

A Prayer of Worship

A Prayer of Worship means to seek God in earnest devotion. It establishes intimacy and nurtures our relationship with God. It’s one-on-one fellowship with God. All other kinds of prayer flow out of worship and intimacy with Him.

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?
Psalm 42:1,2

As human beings, God has made us spirit, soul and body. His original intention was for us to have relationship with Him, that our spirit be linked with His Spirit and that we be filled with His supernatural presence. In every person there is a vacuum, a place for God to fill. However, if people don’t look to God to fill that void, they will seek satisfaction through other means whether occult, New Age, Eastern religions, mystical experiences, philosophy, materialism, hedonism or other worldly pursuits. This is called false worship in the Bible and is the revering of any thing or person, in place of God.

A Prayer of Intercession

The Prayer of Intercession is the kind of prayer that happens when we begin to discern the spiritual state of others as well as the situations that are affecting their lives, and commit ourselves to pray on their behalf.

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone…
1 Timothy 2:1

Intercession literally involves standing in the gap for another, to mediate, to make up the hedge (a protective wall).

Jesus is a great example:

Jesus lives to intercede for us and we should take on praying for others as a priority in our lives.
Hebrews 7:25

One of the best illustrations of intercession is:

Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.’ And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need. “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; those who seek find; and to those who knock, the door will be opened.
Luke 11:5-10

A Prayer in ‘the Spirit’.

Our prayers can be further strengthened by the power of the Holy Spirit through our praying when we use our spiritual language (commonly referred to as ‘praying in tongues’). We receive a spiritual language through the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:26-28

This spiritual language allows the Holy Spirit to pray through us when we do not know how to pray or what to pray for.

The Holy Spirit is our helper. If we are interceding for a person, and we don’t know exactly how to pray, we can enlist the help of the Holy Spirit by praying in tongues.

Doing this allows the Holy Spirit to take hold of the unseen part of that person’s life with us. He works with us, praying through us the perfect will of God in that situation or person’s life. It is our part to yield to His expressions and we actually join with Him, as we allow the different expressions to flow through. The Holy Spirit finds gaps or broken parts of the will of God and bridges them together through our intercession.

We can also use our spiritual language to build ourselves up. Through our prayers the Holy Spirit starts to restore and rebuild in us what life, crisis or warfare has torn down. The Holy Spirit renews our perspective, revives our vision and instructs our minds.

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.”
Ephesians 6:18

Does God really answer prayer?

Absolutely! But imagine if you tried to run up and just chat with say, the Queen of England? There is an etiquette or a proper approach when meeting a dignitary such as the Queen. In the same way there is a way we approach the King of Kings — Father God. He will answer…

1. Yes! When we come to Him by faith.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
Hebrews 11:6

2. Yes! When we pray according to His Will.

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.
1 John 5:14,15

3. Yes! When we come because of the blood of Jesus.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus…
Hebrews 10:19

4. Yes! When we rely on the righteousness granted to us by Jesus and not on the basis of our own good works or personal worthiness.

This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.
Romans 3:22

5. Yes! When we come with a clear conscience.

…let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience …
Hebrews 10:22

If these five points are in line when we approach God in prayer, we can be confident that God will hear us, and answer us.

An example of prayer.

Jesus is our best example for prayer. Through observing His personal prayer life we can pickup on important principles on how we can have an intimate time of connection with the Father.

One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
Luke 11:1

How not to pray.

Do not pray like the hypocrites.

“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 others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.
Matthew 6:5

Do not pray like the pagans (a generic term for those who are not Christians). Don’t babble on with lots of words and fancy rhetoric.

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.
Matthew 6:7,8

How to pray.

Pray to the Father, not to the mother, saints or angels.

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.
Matthew 6:6

Pray through Jesus. He is the only way to the Father.

For there is one God and one mediator between God and human beings, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself as a ransom for all people.
1 Timothy 2:5,6

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
John 14:6

What can we pray for?

We can pray for God’s Will to be done… in your life, in your family, in your work, in your church, in your neighbourhood, in your city, in your nation and in the whole earth.

…your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Matthew 6:10

We can pray for God’s provision… both our personal and family needs to be met.

Give us today our daily bread.
Matthew 6:11

We can pray for forgiveness… to receive forgiveness from God and also to forgive those who have offended you.

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
Matthew 6:12

For if you forgive others when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
Matthew 6:14

We can pray for victory over temptation and protection from the devil’s schemes.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
Matthew 6:13

What can hinder our prayers?

The development of an effective prayer life is dependent on keeping our relationship with God strong and uncluttered by sin.

The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are attentive to their prayer but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.
1 Peter 3:12

Preparing our heart in prayer is very important. It is not only the enemy that seeks to obstruct our prayer life but our own sin can hinder our prayers also. Below are a few obstacles or hindrances that can affect our prayer lives.

1. Unconfessed sin

If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.
Psalm 66:18

When we knowingly tolerate sin in our lives we push God away because He can’t co-exist with sin. It is contrary to His very nature and character. As a result our prayers are rendered powerless.

2. Lack of Faith

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.
Hebrews 11:6

He who doubts is like a wave of sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double minded man unstable in all his ways.
James 1:6

3. Disobedience

If our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from Him anything we ask, because we obey His commands and do what pleases Him.
1 John 3:21-22

4. Wrong Motives

When you ask, you do not receive because you ask with the wrong motives
James 4:3

An effective way to make sure our motives are pure is to have someone we trust hold us accountable for our desires and pursuits.

5. Unforgiveness

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Matthew 6:14-15

If we harbour hurt feelings, resentment or unforgiveness towards others, we negatively affect our prayer lives.

Strengthening and maintaining our relationship with God is a daily process and it is important to deal with any hindrances on a daily basis.

What are the keys to effective prayer?

1. Make it a priority.

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks be made for all men.
1 Timothy 2:1

Prayer is a priority, it is vital to all that we are and do as a Christian.

2. Commit yourself to it.

We will give ourselves continually to prayer…
Acts 6:4

It is an act of the will, a choice we need to make for ourselves.

3. Find a place and a regular time.

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.
Matthew 6:6

Our ‘private prayer’ can be anywhere. It is best when it is a private place to meet with God, a place of solitude where there are no distractions. In other words, separate yourself from people, get alone with God and make that a daily practice. You can pray anywhere anytime during the day, but it’s good to have a consistent place and time and establish that as a priority with out any interruptions.

4. Be persistent.

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!'” And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly...
Luke 18:1-8

Be determined to pray through, and that means not giving up.

5. Get to know God’s Word.

The best kind of praying is to pray according to His Will. We know His Will by knowing His Word. God’s Word builds faith in our hearts because faith comes by hearing His Word. God works and moves in line with His Word. Therefore, as we pray according to His Word, we know He will answer.

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.
1 John 5:14,15

Your response …?

Our life in Christ is a journey, if we are to grow as Christians then our relationship with God needs to be nurtured through time spent in reading the Bible and prayer. Maturity doesn’t happen overnight but takes patience and perseverance.

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James 1:4

Remember, change takes time and practice makes perfect.

But we must all have to make a start. Therefore, …

  • Have you forgiven all who have sinned against you?
  • Have you set a place to read God’s Word and to listen to what He has to say?
  • Have you begun to pray for your “daily bread”?

Now is a good time to start.