In the first blog post of this ‘praying effectively’ series – based on our corresponding prayer event – we discussed James 5:16 and what it means to be a righteous person. Now, let’s examine our prayers themselves. Based on the translation, prayer should be effectual, fervent, urgent, insistent, continual, earnest. Our attitudes and persistence have a role in the powerfulness of our prayers! Even Jesus Himself took prayer seriously and prayed at length. Even He, in one of His healings of a blind man, had to persevere.
We pray against the same enemy He did – especially when we pray for the healing of people who have been blinded to reject God’s love and peaceful design – so how much more do we have to persevere than Jesus, who was God! We can also use the spiritual disciplines to draw close to Jesus and abide in His strength. He told the disciples that with God all things are possible, but apart from him they could do nothing (Matthew 19:26, John 15:5). That’s why we pray fervently and continually – not to convince God to do something, but rather to labor together with God in what He already wants to do through us. Jesus always wanted to answer prayer to heal people but He was working against a powerful enemy and against the fallen nature of the present corrupted world. In the last blog post we considered scriptural evidence for the free will of angelic beings sometimes thwarting God’s will. We see throughout scripture and personally witness that the free will of human beings is also a variable; unfortunately, we can choose to not reflect God’s loving image. From the very first sin (the fall) to humanity’s current refusal to lay aside violence, we subject all creation to suffering (Romans 8:19-23).
Although God’s love and kindness is always shining like the sun shines on everyone (and we are commanded to love the same way), there are essentially demonic clouds that block us from seeing and feeling it. Our choices and even our thoughts can either empower or dis-empower those evil forces. Whether we’re praying for something personal like closeness with God or for something worldwide like peace and animal liberation, we should pray against the enemy blocking what God wants to do, as if we’re poking holes in the oppressive spiritual fog.
Multiple other passages in scripture indicate that we have some personal responsibility in our prayers being answered. One example is Matthew 5:22-24 which emphasizes the importance of love, peace, and unity; another is Luke 11:5-8 which highlights persistence in prayer. Several verses such as Psalm 119:2 come with promises for those who keep the Lord’s statutes and seek him with all our hearts. It’s the Holy Spirit that enables us to strive for that, so even if we don’t feel God’s presence or see every prayer answered, it doesn’t mean God’s not there! Honoring and seeking Jesus are not only evidence of Him in us; they are essential to being in real relationship, which is necessary for real communication. After all, prayer is simply talking to God, not with fancy words but with honesty and vulnerability. We also discussed the powerful tools of praying out loud, praying scripture, praying using our imagination to deepen intimacy, but above all God wants us to pray from our real hearts! Our Lord has a long history of using imperfect people and prayers for great things; He simply wants our whole hearts as we continually walk with Him. For more on the multiple factors that influence the outcome of prayers, see this article:
Lord Jesus, we praise you that you are greater in us than the evil one who is oppressing the world. Thank you that you desire to partner with us in overcoming oppression and in bringing your kingdom to earth as it is in heaven. We desire to speed your return to fully restore your good creation, but you are patient in not wanting anyone to perish but all to come to know you and the truth (2 Peter 3:9, 1 Timothy 2:4). Help all believers understand that the most critical factor in that is people seeing you as you truly are. In fact, it was the enemy’s lies about you which caused the fall, but the cross should have been the revelation which freed us from those deceptions. We pray against those lies which persist today and which have permeated religion. We pray for professing believers to become true followers of you, Lord. Help your true church also see that when you designed and created the universe, you laid aside some of your power for your bride the church to access using our free will. There are now things you cannot do without our cooperation, so help us to take seriously our role in spiritual warfare by praying persistently as if lives hang in the balance! As we pray, empower us to also wage war against suffering and injustice in the way that we live, by reflecting your love to each other and to all your creatures.
Thank you for reading and following our blog! We pray you are blessed by our messages and that you will share them with others. God Bless ~ Jessica