DOES PRAYER REALLY WORK?
Luke 11:1 “One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.’”
Jesus is teaching us how to be effective in prayer.
First, we are to come with the right frame of mind – praying for His kingdom to come. In Matthew 6:33 we are told that we are to seek first His Kingdom and then all of these things will be added. What things is He talking about? Things that we worry about: our shelter, clothing, health, food and our future. We are to put first things first and the first thing is the Kingdom of God and all these things (shelter, clothing, food, health and future) will be added. So why worry when we can pray, or like most seem to do: why pray when we can worry?
God knows what we need. He has made us and He knows what we need to sustain ourselves. In Luke 11:11 Jesus tells us: “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?” Most human fathers want the best for their son and if wondering off in a wrong direction a father will seek to pull his son back to the right path. We want the best for our children. “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11:13 God, our heavenly Father gives us the best.
Secondly, praying for our own daily needs. We already mentioned what our daily needs are but I think it is interesting to see how Jesus frames the discussion in Matthew 6. He does so by asking a question. For example, He says “Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?” (Matthew 6:25) What does He mean? If He has given you life will He not give you what you need to sustain that life? The answer is yes. So why worry? The same with the body. He made it and will He not give what the body needs. So why worry?
Thirdly, we are to seek His will in all things. It is not my will or plans, but His will and plans that need to be forthcoming. We need to understand that Jesus is the Head and not us; HE is the brains. And yet so often we think that we are the brains, that we know what is best. However, we need to keep in mind that all His ways are perfect.
Fourth, making sure that we do not have a grudge against anyone. In Luke 11 Jesus said that a house divided cannot stand. Broken relationships within a family, church community is a great hindrance to seeing prayers being answered. We are told that the prayers of a husband and wife are powerful, but when the relationship is broken or impaired, our prayers are hindered.
Fifth, we do not give up in asking, seeking or knocking. Perseverance is a characteristic that is lacking in today’s society. We live a world of high-speed and when the answers do not come immediately we tend to give up. One of the most common causes of failure is the habit of quitting when one is overtaken by temporary defeat. Every person is guilty of this mistake at one time or another.
Napoleon Hill mentioned in his book called THINK AND GROW RICH: “Before success comes in any man’s life, he is sure to meet with much temporary defeat, and, perhaps, some failure. When defeat overtakes a man, the easiest and most logical thing to do is to quit.” Napoleon went on to describe an uncle named R.U. Darby who went west to dig for gold. He got his family and many others in back of the exhibition, but he found that it was illusive and finally gave up. He was able to sell the mine that he worked on to someone else, but that someone else had perseverance and kept on and in so doing found the vein of gold just three feet from where Darby had left off. How many of us have quit just three feet from the gold?
Sixth, asking for the wisdom of the Holy Spirit or what is needed at the time of prayer or in our daily walk – wisdom, authority, power, etc. We can ask the Holy Spirit to give us what is needed at the time of need. Jesus said, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”
Sidlow Baxter said: “Men may spurn our appeals, reject our message, oppose our arguments, despise our persons, but they are helpless against our prayers.”