Keys to Effective Prayer

Does God answer prayers today? Does He answer your prayers? You can have your prayers answered—and the results can be dramatic!

According to a Barna Research poll: “More than four out of five [U.S.] adults (82%) pray during a typical week.” That may sound impressive, but how many pray every day? Remember that in the “outline prayer,” Jesus taught us to pray daily (Matthew 6:11).

Does prayer actually change things? According to Barna Research, “Americans believe in the power and impact of prayer. Four out of five (82%) believe that ‘prayer can change what happens in a person’s life.’ (1994).” Do you personally believe that?

The Bible gives many examples of God’s intervention in the lives of those who seek Him and trust in Him! Note the example of the prophet Daniel: “Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days” (Daniel 6:10). Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den, but God rescued prayerful Daniel and preserved his life (vv. 11–12)!

Your Bible also reveals the power of prayer. Many recall that Jesus’ prayer raised Lazarus from the dead (cf. John 11). But His disciples also experienced such power in prayer. When the Apostle Peter was in Joppa, he saw a dead Christian woman, much beloved by the widows who mourned her death. We read that “Peter put them [the mourning widows] all out, and knelt down and prayed. And turning to the body he said, ‘Tabitha, arise.’ And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. Then he gave her his hand and lifted her up; and when he had called the saints and widows, he presented her alive. And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed on the Lord” (Acts 9:40–42). Yes, the Apostle Peter raised a woman from death!

“But these were great men of faith,” you may say. “What if I don’t have that much faith?” God’s Word gives us the good news that we can have faith. Throughout the Bible, God gives many principles, or “keys,” to effective prayer. If we use these keys, we can have our prayers answered.
Key #1: Pray Sincerely to the True God

Many people use memorized prayers. As a boy, I prayed the “Now I lay me down to sleep” prayer, but my parents also helped me to pray for others in my own words. When you pray, speak to God in your own words, and be sincere.

Remember that you must speak to the true God! There are many false gods, and many people do not believe in any God at all. You need to prove to yourself whether God exists! God is the Creator. He is the lawgiver, both of natural law as Einstein saw it, and spiritual law as the Bible reveals. Nobel prize winner Albert Einstein could see the design and awesome intelligence in the creation. He wrote that the scientist’s “religious feeling takes the form of a rapturous amazement at the harmony of natural law, which reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection.” (Einstein: A Centenary Volume, ed. A. P. French, p. 305)

God has given us overwhelming evidence of His existence and purpose. Still, some vain, egotistical, arrogant and ignorant people claim that there is no God. Do you know what God calls atheists? “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God'” (Psalm 14:1). Although some “intellectuals” may ridicule faith in God as foolish, it is they who are revealed as fools.

God is ready to have a conversation with all who truly seek Him, even in the most desperate circumstances. When Nebuchadnezzar had taken the people of Judah into captivity in Babylon, Jeremiah explained that they still had hope. “For thus says the Lord: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord” (Jeremiah 29:10–14).

That same principle applies to you! You can have a conversation with the Creator of the universe! He says that you can find Him, if you seek Him with your whole heart. You can pray or talk to Him, and He says: “I will listen to you!” How wonderful that is!
Key #2: Study the Bible

As you read of how God helped people, and delivered them from great stress and trials, you can have more faith. Read the account of the ancient Israelites’ escape through the Red Sea, of Daniel’s deliverance from the lions’ den and of Shadrach, Meshech, and Abed-nego being saved from Nebuchadnezzar’s fiery furnace. Read of the miracles that Jesus performed—healing the diseased, the blind, the deaf and the lame. The Apostle Paul wrote that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). The Bible is the Word of God. Read it every day! Understand what the Creator God has actually accomplished in the past—and what He promises you today!

God gives us promises that money cannot buy. One of my favorite scripture verses gives a wonderful perspective on what God can do: “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20–21).

What kind of problems do you have? Health problems? Financial problems? Employment problems? Family problems? Academic problems? Mental health problems? God can solve any problem you have! We have to do our part, of course—He cannot solve our problems if we are actively working against His help—but we can be comforted in knowing that He can work miracles for us, “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think.” As you study the Bible, you will find examples of answered prayer, and encouragement that your own prayers will be answered, as God has promised.

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