Tuesday, 1 January 2013

6 Essentials of Powerful and Effective Prayer

Let me just say up front, that I don't believe God is a vending machine that we can just punch in the following steps and all will be lardy-dardy. However, the following are principles God has taught me from His word that help me to focus in prayer and stand on his word, particularly when I don't know how to pray in a situation, often because I am feeling too overwhelmed and there appears to be no obvious solution. I have found them to be a blessing. I hope they can be a blessing to you. The italics are examples of what I might pray.

Father shine your light and reveal anything hidden or buried here.” 
Often when I start praying, it's not really crystal clear in my mind what exactly is the source of the problem. I just know there is a problem – sometimes a really big problem – in the realm of the physical, emotional and/or spiritual. When I pray like this, I'm asking God to show me what I can not see for myself. Scripture is full of references to the fact that we can't always see our own sin clearly and we need God to reveal what is going wrong in any given situation. It is also full of references describing Satan as a deceiver and us being easily subjected to his deception (it all began way back in a little garden called Eden). So, by praying in this way, I'm addressing this issue, the “why is this here?” or the “what am I missing here?” portion of prayer. Check more out about this here.

Let me give you an example. I had an argument with my husband last week. Unusual for us. I assumed I was right and he assumed he was right, or so it seemed. I left the room in tears and started folding washing in the laundry, angry at his inability to see correctly. Begging God to “fix him!”. Then I started praying as above. Okay God what am I missing? Reveal what is hidden. As a side note, it's interesting that the word for occult is “hidden”. Satan likes to keep things hidden. God loves to reveal and bring things into the light. Well my God was faithful and answered my prayer. What was hidden was revenge and pride. Suddenly the picture became very clear, for the situation had been brought into the light.

Destroy what you have declared devoted for destruction, all that is unclean”
It's funny because once His light has shone and I can see clearly, repentance is automatic. I have spoken about this before here. But by praying as above I'm admitting that what has been revealed is unclean and devoted for destruction. I'm asking God to destroy all that is unholy and I'm declaring that for Him to do so is a holy thing. I think that this is an important mindset in prayer. This submission to His destruction of all that is evil in the situation. Read more about that here.

In my example of our argument, I asked God to destroy my issues of revenge and pride as they had been declared devoted for destruction previously by Him. I can confidently ask Him for this and know that my prayer will be answered because He has already declared these things unclean in His word.

Heal what you have declared to be healed, cleanse me from anything unclean. Bring you light, life and love to this situation, your righteousness, your kingdom, your authority, your rule, your character, your holiness,the fruit of your Spirit”
This is about asking God to replace all that was broken and unclean in this issue with all that is holy and of God. There's no point removing the unclean if you are not going to replace it with the clean. The unclean will otherwise just return. But the unclean has to go before it can be replaced with the clean (Mark 2:21;22). God's word says there is no law in heaven or on earth that can prevent this occurring. I've written about this more here.

So to continue the post-argument story, it was at this point that I was flooded with peace, forgiveness, wisdom and understanding of the situation. I began to see things in a more balanced perspective.

by the power of the Holy Spirit, which raised Christ from the dead, in the name of Jesus, the true Lord of this earth, whose name is higher than any other name”
This is my declaration of whose name and authority I am requesting this to be done by. I, in myself do not have the authority to request anything. But God, in His goodness has given us His authority to bring in the Kingdom of God to this world. To bring healing, to bring goodness, to bring purity to the world. To bring all that He has declared good and holy to this broken, ungodly world. But it can't be done without Him and it all starts in my heart.

I submit to your timing Lord."
God's timing is a holy thing. Mine isn't! Sometimes I forget this. This is why I have learned to incorporate this in my prayers. It's my statement of submission that He chooses the timing not me. But I am also asking that my sin not hold Him back from doing things as quickly as He would like. I have always been an “instant” type of person, but that can lead me to being not very good at patience and contentment. Balance is important. I guess I'm asking that there not be a delay because of me. There are plenty of references in the bible where healing and God's work were delayed because of the people's sin.

6. Action
By about this time in my prayer, the action that my heavenly Father requires of me has become quite clear and I am keen to do it. Why am I keen now? Because a complete change of heart has taken place while I was praying. This is no “chore” I now need to do. It has become something I yearn to do.

I have to tell you, the action for me, has not always just involved things like apologising to my husband as was the case in my current example. It has involved me changing my diet, walking away from media that contaminates me, changing our lifestyle, dealing with my stress (using techniques I've written about here), disciplining my children differently to name a few. The list is endless. That's what sanctification is. The process in which we are changed towards His likeness. The reason I say this, is that I used to always think that the answer would only ever be things like apology. I didn't realise before that sin can be fed by my unwise inaction in certain areas of my life as much as by the obvious things such as avoiding bible reading and prayer. The book of Proverbs is full of wisdom on that issue.

My Answers to Prayer
I could write about 50 pages of significant prayers that have been answered in my life. But here are just 3 to encourage you.
1. My son's sight impairment was healed much to the amazement of our optometrist. He no longer needs to wear glasses.
2. My allergies have gone, including an almost anaphylactic reaction to dustmite.
3. Provision of organic meat direct from the farmer at super cheap prices, has saved us about $200/ week. I prayed for 2 weeks because we couldn't afford the organic meat and God provided.

Luke 18:1 “Then Jesus told his disciples this parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up”. To give up, is to say, that what was done at the cross was not enough! It's always enough. :)

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