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 says, “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!
Jesus clearly states: “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 will happen 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!
What is the source of the believers’ spiritual power or authority?
The spiritual power or authority of the believers is derived from their spiritual union with Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit abiding 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 dependent on 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, “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 believer 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 indwelling Holy Spirit, 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, or at a sacred or holy place are more powerful and effective than short and silent prayers of faith offered at anytime and anywhere.
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).
Screaming or shouting out your requests to God in prayer, or repeating the same prayers several times in a violent, aggressive or dynamic manner are no guarantee that your prayers will be answered.
The Lord Jesus warns against the use of vain repetitions in prayer!
The Lord Jesus said, “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.” (Matt. 6:7-8 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 declares that: “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” (Jam. 5:16b NLT).
With God, it is not the majority that carries the vote. God is not moved by mere numbers (1 Sam. 14:6)!
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. There is nothing wrong in having prayer partners or people agreeing with you in prayers (Matt. 18:19).
However, it is a sheer delusion to think that the more people you get to pray with 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!
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.
Fourth, the Ultimate Purpose of Prayer is Fellowship with God:
It is a carnal mindset to make prayers all about yourself – getting or persuading God to meet your needs or grant your heart’s desires. The primary purpose of prayer is fellowship, communion, or intimacy with God!
In the Garden of Eden, when there was no need or lack to ask God to supply or meet, and there was no devil, sickness, or evil to pray against, yet the first man was always praying or talking with God (Gen. 2:19, 3:8).
This clearly reveals that the main purpose of prayer transcends receiving something from God; it is being with God, communing with God, beholding His glory and enjoying His love and presence.
Fifth, Prayer is not Wrestling with God:
There is no reluctance or unwillingness on God’s side to answer the prayers of His children. We are the ones that are slow to receive from God because of our unbelief and ignorance of the things that have been freely given to us in Christ (Matt. 7:11, Rom. 8:32).
Sadly, due to wrong teachings and beliefs about prayer, many believers today consider prayer as a means of wrestling with God, or prevailing upon God to bless, heal, or deliver them.
The carnal mindset of seeing prayer as grappling and wrestling with God presupposes that God is reluctant or unwilling to answer prayers of His children, or that God is very callous and insensitive to the plights and problems of His children.
Consequently, like the ungodly judge mentioned in Luke 18, God needs to be bothered, begged, persuaded, or motivated through series of prayers, vain repetitions, plenty words, or protracted fasting before He could hear, consider, answer or respond positively to His children’s cries.
What a slander and terrible picture of a Loving God!
What a travesty and mockery of the fatherhood of God!
Contrary to our carnal prayer mindset, the Scriptures clearly portrays God as a Loving Father whose love for His children is infinite, absolute, perfect, unconditional, everlasting and sacrificial.
Was it not when we were ungodly that God sent His Son Jesus Christ to die for our sins?
If God therefore freely gave us the greatest gift when we were sinners and far away from Him, why then will He delay or refuse to give us good things now that we are His children and in His Kingdom?
That is unthinkable!
The Scripture queries, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32 NKJV).
Sixth, Worship or Praise is an Integral Part of Prayer:
It is often said in our churches today, “If prayer fails, try praise.” This notion or belief presupposes that praise is completely different from prayer and also more powerful than prayer.
This is a fallacy!
It is unscriptural to separate praise, worship or thanksgiving from prayer; it is an inherent part of prayer. This is why the Scripture admonishes us to: “Come before His presence with singing… Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.” (Psa. 100:2-4 NKJV).
When the early disciples of Christ asked the Lord to teach them how to pray, He taught them to start their prayer with praise, worship or adoration and to also end their prayer with the same.
The Lord Jesus said to His disciples, “In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.” (Matt. 6:9 NKJV).
He also taught them to end their prayer thus, “For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” (Matt. 6:13 NKJV).
In obedience to the Lord’s teaching on prayer, the early disciples always included praise, worship, adoration and thanksgiving in their prayers (Acts 4:24, Eph. 1:15-16, Phil. 1:3-4, Col. 1:3, 1 Thess. 1:2).
Therefore, if we are separating praise from our prayer today we are either ignorant of the Lord’s teaching on prayer or disobedient to the Lord’s teaching on prayer.
Seventh, God has answered all our prayers in and through Jesus Christ:
Through faith in Jesus Christ, the believers are now heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ, thereby lacking nothing good (Rom. 8:17).
The Scripture states: “Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” (Gal. 4:7 NKJV).
“Therefore let no one boast in men. For all things are yours: whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come–all are yours. And you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.” (1 Cor. 3:21-23 NKJV).
As a born-again believer you now have an unlimited access to all that God has through your faith in the person and redemptive work of Jesus Christ. Everything that you need or will ever need has been richly and freely given to you in Christ.
The Scripture states: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” (Eph. 1:3 NKJV).
“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.” (2 Pet. 1:3 RSV).
Therefore, it is simply ignorance or unbelief to seek to impress, propel or compel God to bless you or do anything for you through your prayers. In His love, God has anticipated all your needs and has already made abundant provisions for them to be fully met in and through Christ.
You cannot mount any pressure on God or motivate God to do anything for you through your prayers. God has already moved in love for your favour through Jesus Christ to make all things available freely and abundantly to you.
Beloved, quit seeking to use prayer or fasting to compel, motivate or pressurize God to give you anything or to do anything for you. God has already granted you all things in Christ and done all things for you through Christ.
Therefore, simply ask in faith and receive with thanksgiving your inheritance in Christ!
The Lord Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mark 11:24 RSV).
May you begin to enjoy every moment you spend in prayer, seeing it as not a time to wrestle with God for blessing, but as a time for intimate fellowship with God to behold His glory, experience His love, and enjoy His awesome presence.