“And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. “Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.” (Matthew 6:7-8 NKJV).
The relevance and significance of prayer in the life of the believers cannot be overemphasized. The efficacy of prayer is on decline today, not because we are not praying more but because we are mostly praying amiss or wrongly.
The Scripture reveals that when we pray and we don’t receive, it is simply because we pray amiss or wrongly.
The Scripture states: “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” (Jam. 4:3 NKJV).
But why do we often pray amiss or wrongly?
It is simply because we don’t know the Scriptures!
The Lord Jesus said, “Your mistake is that you don’t know the Scriptures, and you don’t know the power of God.” (Matt. 22:29 NLT).
Many unscriptural beliefs, human traditions and doctrines, misconceptions and assumptions about prayer that we have imbibed and embraced are the major reasons why we pray amiss and why our prayers are not availing much today.
In this piece we shall contrast some general misconceptions and beliefs about prayer with the truths about prayer in the Scripture.
First, Prayer is not a Divine Source of Spiritual Power or Authority:
It is generally believed and often said today that, “A prayerless Christian is a powerless Christian.” This statement presupposes that prayer is the source of the believer’s spiritual power or authority, and that the believer’s power or authority is proportional to his prayer life.
As a result of this wrong but long held belief, many believers today determine or measure their spiritual power or authority by the duration, volume, fervency, or frequency of their prayers.
What a mistaken belief!
While the Scripture admonishes believers to pray without ceasing, it never attributes or ties the believers’ spiritual power or authority to their prayer life (1 Thess. 5:17). Determining your spiritual power or authority by your prayer life is a demonstration of your faith in yourself (works) and not in Jesus Christ (grace).
There is a great danger in determining or measuring your spiritual authority by your prayer life. When your spiritual authority is made to be dependent on the duration, volume, fervency, or frequency of your prayers, you will not be able to wield your spiritual authority over the devil at all times and in all situations.
If your spiritual power or authority is rooted in or dependent on the length, volume, fervency or frequency of your prayers, what happens when you are physically weak to pray long, loud and much as you normally do?
You will simply not have the faith, boldness or confidence to resist the devil by wielding your spiritual authority!
What is the source of the believers’ spiritual power or authority?
The Lord Jesus Christ!
The spiritual power or authority of the believers is derived from their spiritual union with Jesus Christ and the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit in them.
Your spiritual authority as a believer is rooted in or dependent upon your relationship, spiritual identity or union with Jesus Christ, and not in your ability to pray long, loud, fervently or frequently (Eph. 2:4-6, 1 Cor. 6:17).
Spiritual authority has been graciously conferred or bestowed upon all the believers in Christ, sadly, not all the believers today acknowledge, understand or exercise their authority in Christ.
The Lord Jesus clearly said to His disciples, “Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” (Luke 10:19 NKJV).
Therefore, being more prayerful (praying longer, louder, more fervently or frequently) than others does not in any way increase your spiritual power or authority in Christ.
Conversely, spending less time in prayer does not diminish or reduce your spiritual power or authority in Christ, for your spiritual authority is based on your spiritual union or identity with Christ and therefore it is always constant.
Moreover, the Scripture establishes that the Holy Spirit, not prayer, is the only source of divine power available to the believers in Christ. It is the presence of the Holy Spirit in the believers that makes God’s supernatural power available to the believers to accomplish God’s purposes and to live for God’s glory.
The Lord Jesus said to His disciples, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 NKJV).
While prayer is of extreme importance in the believer’s life, praying more than other believers does not give you more supernatural power than others, for it is the one and the same Holy Spirit living and working in all the believers (Eph. 4:4-6, 1 Cor. 12:10).
Although God’s supernatural power is available to all the believers in the same measure through the Holy Spirit indwelling them, however, the measure of God’s power that each believer appropriates, demonstrates, or manifests in his life varies based on his revelation knowledge of God’s truths and yielding to the Holy Spirit. The variation is not from God; it is from us.
Second, the Efficacy of Prayer is not based on its Volume, Duration, Loudness, Repetition or Frequency:
Sadly, as a result of wrong doctrines, misconceptions, or unscriptural beliefs about prayer, many believers today now think that long, loud, acrobatic, effusive and repetitive prayers offered at midnight or certain time of the day and at a sacred or holy place are more powerful and effective than short and silent prayers of faith offered at anytime and anywhere.
The truth is that the efficacy of your prayer has nothing to do with the loudness or volume of your voice, the length or duration of your prayer, the frequency of your prayer, your emotion, gesticulation, position or posture while praying, or the location where you pray, but with the motives of your prayer, the depth of your spiritual understanding, the alignment of your prayer with God’s will and purpose, and your faith and obedience to God (John 14:13-14, 1 John 5:15, Jam. 4:3).
The Scripture is replete with outstanding results produced by short prayers of faith (John 11:42-44, Luke. 7:11-15, Acts 9:38-41).
Praying very loud and long, praying at a specific time or place, positioning yourself in a certain way while praying, repeating the same words in prayer several times, and praying in a certain violent or aggressive manner are no guarantee that your prayers will be answered.
The Lord Jesus warns against the use of vain repetitions in prayer in Matthew 6:
7 “And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.
8 “Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. (NKJV).
Third, the Power of Prayer is not proportional to the Population of the People praying:
It is a fallacy to think that the efficacy of prayer is enhanced by increase in the size or numbers of the believers praying on the same issue at the same time or place.
The power of prayer does not automatically increase with the increase in the population of the prayer warriors we assemble to pray on the same issue at the same time or place.
The Scripture clearly reveals that: “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” (Jam. 5:16b NLT).
Beloved, while there is a place for prayer of agreement, the Scripture never said that the power of prayer is relatively proportional to the size or number of the people praying. But, there is absolutely nothing wrong in you having prayer partners or people agreeing with you in prayers.
However, it is a sheer delusion to think that the more people you get to pray with you or for you, the greater the efficacy or power of the prayer and the quicker the results of the prayer.
God does not answer prayers based on sentiments. With God, it is not the majority that carries the vote. God is not moved by mere numbers (1 Sam. 14:6).
God cannot be subtly impressed, influenced, manipulated, coerced or compelled to answer prayers by many people or voices saying the same thing, at the same time, and at the same place.
Discover more scriptural truths about prayer in the next piece!
Prayer: My Dear Heavenly Father, open my eyes of understanding to see how I have been praying amiss or wrongly as a result of my long held wrong beliefs and traditions about prayer. Grant me the humility and grace to renounce them and embrace scriptural truths about prayer, in Jesus’ name. Amen.