THE NEW TESTAMENT PRINCIPLES OF PRAYER
God’s ability to answer our prayers is unquestionable. The Bible and history are replete with accounts and testimonies that prove beyond any reasonable doubt that God truly answers prayers.
Not believing that God answers prayers is as worst as not believing in the existence of God!
Prayer is a divine communion between the Almighty God and mortal men. It is simply talking with God about everything. Prayer is a sincere communication or dialogue with God; it is not mere crying, talking or speaking to God.
Although prayer is simple, yet it has profound effects and it produces amazing results. Prayer is powerful because the Almighty God has committed Himself to answering prayers.
Prayer is never meant to be a last resort when all other things have failed; rather it is meant to be your first port of call in all situations or circumstances.
For the believers, prayer is not a matter of choice; it is a must, a command and a responsibility. We are not expected and commanded to pray daily, weekly or monthly, but always; for prayer is our lifeline.
The Scripture commands us to “Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thess. 5:17 NKJV).
Prayer is not supposed to simply be a means of getting God’s attention and help when we are in crises or desperate situations, but a deep communion with God.
Prayer is not meant to be a violent or aggressive reaction to an unpleasant situation, but an action inspired and directed by the Holy Spirit.
God is not a mercenary whose service is only needed in the days of battles against our enemies. Neither is God a waiter or steward at our beck and call, waiting on us to attend to all our whims and caprices.
Besides, God is not a multi-purpose machine or tool that we can pick up and use for quick fixes or to get urgent tasks done but set aside when not needed.
Praying to God is not the same as strolling into a shopping mall to pick up any goods we desire or fancy. Unfortunately, today, there are many believers with these erroneous concepts of God and prayer.
Although you can pray anywhere, anytime, and pray about or for anything; however, you cannot pray anyhow because God has given us in the Bible specific instructions and guidelines on how to pray effectively.
When you pray anyhow, contrary to God-given principles of prayers in the New Testament, God is not bound to answer your prayers.
It is therefore imperative for us to understand basic truths or principles of prayer in the New Testament lest we waste our time and energy praying all manners of prayers that God will not answer, and so that we may avoid the accompanying frustration of unanswered prayers.
First, Prayer is a spiritual offering meant only to be offered to the Almighty God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth:
The Bible teaches that our prayers are like a spiritual offering and that God is the only One who is worthy of receiving the offering of our prayers.
3 Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. (NKJV).
While Peter was in prison, the Scripture testifies that “constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church.” (Acts 12:5 NKJV).
So, when your prayer is not directed to God, the Creator of all things, you are actually not praying.
Many people today who are praying to angels, prophets, statues or images of the saints of old are not just wasting their time and energy because they are praying wrongly; they are also committing idolatry and breaking God’s commandments (Exo. 20:3-5).
Second, Prayers to God are to be offered through and in the name of Jesus Christ:
Although we have several gods, religions and religious leaders in the world today presenting and parading themselves as a link, connection, or access to God; there is only one true way, means or access to God presented to us in the Bible and approved of God.
The Lord Jesus publicly and clearly said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6 NKJV).
Jesus Christ is the only approved spiritual gateway to the throne of God (Heb. 10:19-22). God is only committed to answering prayers offered to Him in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ.
The Scripture amply attests to this truth.
1 Timothy 2:
5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus. (NKJV).
12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. (NKJV).
13 And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
14 If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. (NKJV).
16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. (NKJV).
23 Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. (NKJV).
Prayer becomes a futile exercise that ends in failure and frustration if it is not directed to God the Father in the name of God the Son, Jesus Christ, and through the guidance of God the Holy Spirit.
Third, God does not answer prayers that are contrary to His perfect will, plans or purposes:
Although God has all the power, means and resources to answer all your prayers and grant all your requests, yet He will not answer any prayer that is not in alignment with His perfect will, plan and purpose for your life.
The Scripture clearly states this truth.
1 John 5:
14 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. (NKJV).
Beloved, it is not the loudness of your voice, the enormity or urgency of your needs, the volume and frequency of your prayers, or your gesticulation, or desperation in prayers that God considers before answering your prayers, but His perfect will, plan and purpose for your life in the situation.
Therefore, you will save yourself from untold frustration if you first seek to know and understand God’s perfect will, plan and purpose in a situation before you begin to pray.
How do you know God’s perfect will, plan and purpose in a given situation?
Renew your mind according to the truths of God’s Word!
When you begin to renew your mind through diligent and prayerful meditation in God’s Word, it will not be difficult for you to discern, recognize or understand God’s perfect mind or will in any situation.
2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
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Beloved, when you begin to think according to the truths of God’s Word, you will begin to know, discern and recognize the good, pleasing and perfect will of God and then you will begin to pray rightly, according to God’s good, pleasing and perfect will for your life and situation.
Fourth, we must pray with right motives, intentions or purposes:
God always looks beyond our loud cries, gesticulations, desperation, or repetition of words in prayer into our hearts to examine the motives or reasons for our requests, petitions or supplications before He grants them.
Therefore, it is always good to check out, examine and purify your motives before you present your requests to God.
What are you presently seeking in prayer to receive from God?
Why do you want it and what do you want to do with it?
If the motive or thrust of your prayers is to gratify, pacify or glorify the flesh, or to promote, advance or advertize yourself, or just to impress, intimidate or oppress someone else; it is a waste of time praying, for God will not answer such prayers.
Many of your prayers have not been answered because your motives for asking are carnal, selfish, impure and insincere. If your motive is for God’s glory, for God’s Kingdom, or for the good and benefit of humanity; God will surely answer you and grant your requests. But, when you pray with wrong motives, your prayers will not be answered.
James testifies to this truth.
3 You ask, and don’t receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it for your pleasures. (WEB).
Fifth, God only answers when we pray in faith:
It is not the length, duration, frequency, loudness, or volume of your prayers that attracts God’s attention, but faith in your heart while praying.
The efficacy or power of your prayer does not depend on the volume, loudness, frequency or duration of your prayer, nor on your gesticulation or posture while praying, but on your faith and revelation knowledge of what Christ has done in you and for you – who you are and what you have in Christ.
God only answers prayers from a heart that trusts in His faithfulness and ability to perform what He has promised in His Word.
It is only the prayer of faith that avails much and produces amazing results, for that is the only kind of prayer that God always honours and answers (Jam. 5:15). Most of our prayers have failed simply because of our doubts and unbelief.
The Lord Jesus Christ assures His disciples of answers to prayers of faith.
22 And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith. (RSV).
24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. (RSV).
James also admonishes us to pray in faith.
6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.
7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord. (NKJV).
Lastly, it is the fervent prayer of the righteous that avails much:
The born-again believers have received God’s righteousness as a gift through faith in the person and finished work of Jesus Christ.
The Scripture amply states this truth.
19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.
20 Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
21 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets,
22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference. (NKJV).
17 For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)
18 Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.
19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous. (NKJV).
2 Corinthians 5:
21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (NKJV).
The New Testament believers are the righteousness of God in Christ. We are completely and eternally accepted to God in Christ, and God is committed to answering our prayers of faith.
Beloved, if you have not put your faith in Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Saviour, your prayers are ineffective and cannot avail much. It is only the prayers of the born-again believers that are effective and powerful.
The Scripture testifies that “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” (Jam. 5:16b NLT).
The believers who deliberately and consistently choose to walk in disobedience to God’s Word may have answers to their prayers delayed or hindered by the devil (1 Pet. 3:7).
Friend, has the devil been hindering or delaying answers to your prayers because of your disobedience to God’s Word?
Repent today and receive God’s forgiveness and then begin to resist the devil so that he will not continue to nullify your prayers or hinder the answers to your prayers.
7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. (NKJV).