The Christians Peter wrote to in the book of 1 Peter were instructed, “be serious and watchful in your prayers” (1 Peter 4:7). Certainly, those who are Christians today (and of all time) ought to consider the serious nature of prayer. Prayer is the avenue through which we are taught to communicate directly with God – praying to God (the Father), through Jesus (the Son), and with the help of the Holy Spirit.
Prayer Is A Spiritual Blessing For God’s Children
Prayer is a special avenue of communication with God that has been made available by God to those who are His people. He promises that He will hear the prayers of His children. However, He makes no such promise to those who are not His children. In fact, 1 Peter 3:12 says, “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
In contrast to those who are not God’s children, Christians have been promised that God will hear their prayers. A man who had just been healed of His blindness (by Jesus) accurately stated, “Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him” (John 9:31). Therefore, whenever Jesus taught His disciples how to pray, He began by teaching them to say: “Our Father in heaven” (Matthew 6:9). Later, Jesus helps us to appreciate this blessing even further when He says, “Ask, and it will be given to 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” (Matthew 7:7-8). He continues to say that God knows how to give good gifts to those who are His children (Matthew 7:9-11).
So, prayer is one of the spiritual blessings that has been made available in Christ Jesus (where all spiritual blessings are, Ephesians 1:3). Take a moment to consider the great blessing it is to be able to directly communicate with the all-powerful, all-knowing, ever-present, and eternal God who created the universe! 1 Peter 5:7 and Philippians 4:6-7 states that those who are Christians can cast all of their cares and anxieties upon God because He cares for His children – and find the peace of God that surpasses all understanding.
Furthermore, Hebrews 4:14-16 demonstrates the blessing of having Jesus (as Mediator and High Priest). The passage teaches that Jesus Christ is able to “sympathize with our weaknesses” because He was tempted in all the same points we are tempted in; yet He did not sin. Therefore, we are taught that we can “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Christians Must Be Prayerful People
Christians have been given this tremendous blessing of prayer. But, how often do we utilize it? Christians are not only taught about the great blessing of prayer in Scripture; but they are also taught concerning the need to utilize that avenue of communication with God!
Take a moment to consider what you are taught to express through the avenue of prayer (as a Christian). Through prayer you should express your praise and adoration of God, your thanksgiving for all the blessings God has provided you, supplication for God’s help and blessings, and confession of your sins and petition for forgiveness. Certainly, there is much to pray about. And, in addition to praying on your own behalf, 1 Timothy 2:1-2 says that “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority….”
Throughout the Scriptures, God’s people are seen as being dedicated to prayer. David is seen as a man of prayer in his many psalms. Daniel was seen as a man of prayer whenever he continued to pray three times a day – even when he was at risk of being thrown into the den of lions. Jesus was dedicated to prayer during His earthly life and taught others how to pray. The apostles can be seen praying in Acts 4. The church was offering constant prayer whenever Peter was in prison in Acts 12. Paul and Silas were singing and praying while in prison in Acts 16.
Furthermore, 1 Thessalonians 5:17 provides a simple, yet challenging, instruction for each one of us toward prayer: “pray without ceasing.” This is a constant prayerful attitude that takes advantage of opportunities to pray and one that chooses to address God in prayer with any/every care and concern of life!
Necessary Elements For Effective Prayer
Now that we have seen the great blessing of prayer and learned that Christians must be dedicated to prayer, let’s spend a moment to learn about effective prayer. Clearly, as we learned from 1 Peter 3:12 and John 9:31, not all prayer accomplishes the same things. So, if we are going to spend time and energy in prayer, let’s learn about what we need to do in order that our prayers will be effective.
First, learn from James 5:16. “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” Notice that prayer has great power potential (because of the awesome power of God). However, recognize that in order to tap into this great power potential, the passage says that the prayer is “fervent” and that it involves a righteous person (one who is right with God) praying. Learn the lesson about fervency in prayer that is taught in Luke 18:1-8 concerning persistence in prayer. Therefore, if you are not being fervent in your prayers or if you are living in sin, you should not expect your prayers to be effective!
Second, faith is an essential component of effective prayer. James 1:6-8 teaches that we must ask God in faith, without doubting. If we doubt when we ask God, we should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. In fact, James says that we are “double-minded” and “unstable” in all our ways. We must have faith in the one who has provided this great avenue of prayer, who loves us and cares for us!
Third, in order for prayer to be effective, we must pray according to the will of God. 1 John 5:14-15 says, “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, 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 the petitions that we have asked of Him.” Jesus also teaches us to pray according to the Father’s will by His example in Luke 22:41-44.
Fourth, in order for prayer to be effective, we must live in harmony with what we pray. Again, if we are praying for God’s blessings, but we are not living our lives for Him (not living according to His righteousness), we should not expect our prayers to be effective (James 5:16). For example, Mark 11:25-26 teaches that the Father will forgive our sins. However, if we do not forgive others, the Father will not forgive us when we pray for such! God hates hypocrisy – and He will not bless our prayers if we are being hypocritical in our service.
As a Christian, you have been given access to this tremendous blessing of prayer. Are you utilizing this blessing so that the peace of God can rule in your heart? Are you doing your part to make your prayers effective? Surely, God is wanting to hear and answer your prayers!