Principles of Prayer

If you could ask God for one thing, right now, what would that be?

Do you believe that you would receive it?

Let’s be honest with ourselves here. Do you believe God hears you when you pray? Do you believe that God listens? Do you believe He cares?

Don’t worry we are not at church, so you don’t have to give me the ‘right’ answer. There are no people around you that will judge. In your heart, you are probably saying…”No, I don’t believe that” or “Yes, I do believe He listens but He seems to not care or answer”.

James gives us great insight into why we pray, why God answers us the way He does, and how we should pray given this understanding.

James 5: 13-18

Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.

1. You have to ask. –> James 4:2 “You do not have, because you do not ask God.” You have to actually ask to receive! God knows our hearts and He knows what His children need. But, in order for us to exercise faith He allows us to ask Him. Without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6), and that is the main point of prayer.

2. Check your motives. –> James 4:3 “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” If our motivations are self centered, then God is probably withholding until He removes ‘self’ from the equation. God gives so we can give more freely. If we clinch our fists with what He has given us, He sees our closed fists as fighting against Him. Open your hands to God with what you currently have, so He can give you more.

3. The prayer of a righteous man/woman is powerful and effective. –> James 5:16 “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” If you have never walked with the Lord or are not walking with Him currently, then your prayers are being heard… but they are not as effective. In that position the most powerful prayer is a prayer of repentance turning back to Him. God does not reward bad behavior, because He is not stupid. But He is loving. So return to the Lord, effective prayers are just one incentive to return to Him, the ultimate incentive is His presence.

4. Forgiveness –> Mark 11:25 “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” If there is unforgiveness in your heart towards someone, give it up. For God to hear and work on your behalf you must forgive as He has forgiven you. It is for our own personal freedom, and also, He paid a high price to forgive you so He expects you to forgive others.

5. Pride –> James 4:6 “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” God is one person you do not want opposing you. Straight up, I have learned this from experience. You just need to ask for humility and find ways to humble yourself.

6. Come in closer, He whispers. –> James 4:8 “Come near to God and He will come near to you.” If you have been walking with the Lord, and have a clear conscience on the above, then continue to draw closer to Him. In my experience with God through prayer, if you are yelling at Him, you are far from Him. The closer you get to God you just have to whisper, and God seems to like 6 inch voices.

7. It takes faith. –> Mark 11:24 “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Ask in faith. Faith really does move mountains, and all it takes is faith the size of a mustard seed. Ultimately, God’s sovereign will reigns supreme. But we don’t know what that is, so you can pray for what is on your heart and in faith watch your will align with His.

Physical healing, emotional healing, a husband or wife, financial breakthrough, a job, peace, patience, love, joy…. you name it, God owns it all and gives it freely. The Lord has told us to pray, and to pray without ceasing. He also gives us the frame work on how to approach Him, and the grace to pray expectantly. Although He may not answer every prayer the way we want, He will, if we allow Him, align our will with His so we are at peace with His decision.

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