effective prayer

secrets of prayer

Christ’s disciples learned, by watching, that in the midst of ministering to multitudes he always took time for prayer.  From following Him daily they knew His prayers were always heard.  They could see the continued source of his power and total freedom from pride came through secret prayer.  This created a hunger in them to know how to pray, so they asked Him to teach them.

  • And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray.  When evening came, he was there alone…Matthew 14:23
  • And in the morning, a great while before day, he rose and went out to a lonely place, and there he prayed. Mark 1:35
  • But he withdrew to the wilderness to pray. Luke 5:16
  • In these days he went out to the mountain to pray; and all night he continued in prayer to God. Luke 6:12
  • Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. Luke 9:28
  • He was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” Luke 11:1

I too desire to be enrolled in this school of prayer. Jesus, please be my teacher. Help me to practice faithfully, every day, the lessons learned in prayer. For me prayer is, and has always been, quiet time spent alone with my Abba Father. The desire of my heart is to pray effectively.

But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. Matthew 6: 5-11

At that time Jesus prayed this prayer: “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way! Matthew 11:25-30 NLT

“My Father has entrusted everything to me. No one truly knows the Son except the Father, and no one truly knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

In Matthew 6:9-14 and Luke 11:2-4 Jesus teaches his disciples the kingdom principles of prayer. Today we refer to these verses as “The Lords Prayer,” but the pattern for our prayer is always to remain the same.

Prayer begins with adoration, praise, and the interests of God’s kingdom. In Matthew 6:33 I find “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.”

Our Father in heaven,
may your name be kept holy.
May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth,
as it is in heaven. NLT

I believe knowing God’s will for His children is a critical part of praying effectively. Jesus said,

“Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This is not a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in. If your little boy asks for a serving of fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? If your little girl asks for an egg, do you trick her with a spider? As bad as you are, you wouldn’t think of such a thing—you’re at least decent to your own children. And don’t you think the Father who conceived you in love will give the Holy Spirit when you ask him?”

Luke 11:11-13 (The Message)

We are to be thankful for God’s provision in life. In Matthew 6:33 I find “and ALL these things will be yours…”  I have heard it said the most ancient authorities translate the next line of Jesus’ teaching:

“You give us our bread for this day, and our bread for tomorrow.”

Or, in today’s language; “thank you that you give us what we need today, and will do the same tomorrow.”

Then follows the plea for forgiveness; “as we forgive others.” Jesus taught in Matthew 5:23 that sacrifices with an unforgiving heart would not be acceptable to God. I believe He included these words in His model for prayer for the same reason. Prayer, with an unforgiving heart, will not be acceptable to God the Father either. I believe there is a condition implied in the words “as we have.”

What if we haven’t?  Peter wrote to his followers, warning that where there was conflict and strife in a marriage union the couple’s prayers would be “hindered”.” 1 Peter 3:7

Auntie taught me, “never go to bed angry!”

If I want to pray effectively, with power, I must forgive.

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

Matthew 6:14

“Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions

and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.

Mark 11:25 NLT

Finally, we are to ask God for protection and guidance.

And don’t let us yield to temptation,
but rescue us from the evil one.

And, just as we would never leave the presence of a dearly loved friend without saying goodbye…a humble salutation…

For yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen [So be it]

“Then, teaching them more about prayer, Jesus used this story: “Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him,  ‘A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.’  And suppose he calls out from his bedroom, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is locked for the night, and my family and I are all in bed. I can’t help you.’  But I tell you this—though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence.

“And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. Luke 11:5-9 NLT

Point by point Jesus told them:

  1. when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private.
  2. come with childlike faith, casting your cares on the shoulders of the Christ who carried it ALL
  3. begin with adoration, praise, and the interests of God’s kingdom in mind
  4. express thanks for God’s provision in your life
  5. be certain your heart is free from unforgiveness and anger toward others
  6. ask God to protect and guide your prayers
  7. offer humble thanks for what God is doing in response to your prayers

Jesus told them, “Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him.

“Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.

Mark 11:23-25 (New American Standard Bible)