Summing up all that I’ve learned so far in these posts on prayer, I’d have to say that our prayers are most effective…
- when we are living righteously,
- when they are in line with God’s Will and are unselfish and are in Jesus’ name (according to what He wants),
- when there are no un-confessed sins blocking our relationship with God (meaning that we need to clear the air with God and others, seeking forgiveness from God and those we have wronged and forgiving those who have wronged us),
- when we (especially husbands) treat others with consideration and respect,
- when we are doing the good we know we need to do,
- when we are living and acting in accordance with our faith and not doing anything that doesn’t come from faith,
- when our hearts don’t condemn us (because we have actively searched them and we have righted any wrongs, and not just because we are ignoring any conviction),
- when we obey His commands and do what pleases Him,
- when we believe in Jesus and are loving one another,
- when we are remaining in Him and His words remain in us,
- and when we are living for and bearing fruit for His glory!
This is a lot to consider. It is very sobering. And it is life-changing!
Prayer is not about getting our way, about getting God to give us the answers we want. It’s about our relationship with Him and our spiritual growth. It’s about our heart’s sensitivity to Him and our desire to live life with Him, doing our best with the Spirit’s help to transform ourselves to be more like Him. It’s about drawing near to Him in genuineness and humility, about being desperate for Him, needy for Him, dependent on Him. And this is why and how we should pray. Because we need Him and because He wants us to let Him near. He can handle anything we bring His way. We just need to learn to be willing to accept His answers.
And this becomes a lot easier when we really grasp His love for us. More than reaching for things He can give us, we should really be reaching for Him and for a greater understanding of His love. That is what will carry us through anything. And we need to be immersing ourselves in Him daily if we want to have the greatest amount of peace and joy possible. Peace and joy in the midst of unanswered prayer do not come to us apart from abiding in Him daily.
(And according to Philippians 4:6-7, peace comes when we present all of our requests to God, with thanksgiving. The thanksgiving part is crucial. It is what reminds us Who we are praying to, what He has done for us in the past, what He is capable of, and that He is good and will answer in the best way. Because He is a good, loving, heavenly Father. Whenever you are discouraged with prayer or life’s circumstances, practice thanksgiving. This will also help keep evil away because demons thrive on negative emotions, which are “welcome mats” to them. Even a demon that tormented Saul in 1 Samuel 16:23 was driven away when David played his harp. Thanksgiving and praise help “shut the door” to them and drive them away.)
To boil it all down, when it comes to prayer and faith, what we should want more than anything is to get to the place where we can take His hand and walk forward into the darkness in faith. Faith in Him! No matter how He answers our prayers. Because even if we don’t get what we want, we know that He is a good, loving Father who will work all things for good!
Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”