In my experience, many people fail to pray because they do not perceive it to be effective. We seem to continue to do the things in life that are effective. If we desire to lose weight and we begin to exercise and nothing happens, we tend to stop exercising. This happens a lot because when we exercise we want immediate results and all we get is immediate pain and fatigue. But it is the long-term commitment to exercise that gives lasting results.
We often pray like we exercise. We want something quickly and pray about it once or twice and then move on because we have seen no immediate results. But that is not the point of prayer. Prayer is about a relationship. A relationship is not a one-sided conversation where all we do is express our needs and desires. Relationships take discipline and so does a prayer life. Relationship is the key to prayer.
The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:16b
When we become followers of Christ, we are given the righteousness of Christ. Righteousness simply means that we are in good standing with God. Being in good standing with God is not something that we can do on our own. Grace is a free gift, so the righteousness that goes with it must also be given. We stand blameless before God not for anything that we do, but for what Christ has already done for us.
Is it fair to say that God is more likely to answer the prayers of a Christian than a non-christian? Yes. The reason that our prayers are more effective as followers of Jesus is that through Jesus, God has removed the barrier to healthy communication that has been caused by our sin. Our relationship with God through Jesus Christ has everything to do with the effectiveness of our prayers.
As you pray this week, seriously consider your relationship with God. It will have a direct impact not just on whether you pray, but how you pray. It is why confession is such a large part of prayer. and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. Matthew 6:12
Confession is just acknowledging the reality of our sins to God. Though we have been given the righteousness of Christ, it doesn’t mean that our sins don’t occasionally hamper our ability to effectively communicate to God.
What kinds of things can you do make your prayers more effective?
Are there things that others have done to you that you need to forgive so that your prayers may be effective?
Give us examples of ways that you have been able to establish a more healthy prayer life.
How do you think God hears the prayers of a person who has not received grace through Jesus Christ?