The Effective Prayer Life

The Effective Prayer Life

A healthy prayer life is one of the best indicators of a healthy spiritual life because it is through prayer that a Christian develops a closer, more intimate relationship with God. It is also said that a Christian who spends a considerable amount of time with God in prayer is more likely to experience God’s blessings in all areas of his life.

Admittedly, many Christians are finding it hard to develop a prayer life that does not only keep them in constant communication with God but also one that is effective and powerful. Having an effective prayer life is one of the keys to living victoriously as followers of Christ here on earth while waiting for His return.

Developing An Effective Prayer Life

So what kind of prayer is considered effective and how do we develop it? We read how God’s people in the Old Testament have succeeded in accomplishing their God-given missions because they always consulted God first: Abraham, Noah, Joshua, David, Daniel, and his friends, etc.

In the New Testament, the apostle Paul repeatedly exhorted the church to pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and encouraged them to pray for one another (James 5:16; 1 Timothy 2:1; Ephesians 6:18). And in Colossians 4:2-4 (NLT), Paul succinctly gives us a great lesson in effective praying:

“Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. 3 Pray for us, too, that God will give us many opportunities to speak about his mysterious plan concerning Christ. That is why I am here in chains. 4 Pray that I will proclaim this message as clearly as I should.”

A. First, our praying must be FAITHFUL

“Devote yourselves to prayer” means, “Be steadfast in your prayer life; be committed, persistent and don’t quit.” This is the way the early church prayed (Acts 1:14; Acts 2:46). Sadly, too many of us pray only occasionally – when we feel like it or when there’s a crisis. But God commands us to “pray continually” ( 1 Thessalonians 5:17 NIV). It’s because Jesus knew that there will be times when we would feel fainthearted.

We live in a broken world that is ruled by Satan and as followers of Christ; we are constantly engaged in a spiritual battle that can only be won on our knees through prayer. As the battles loom, it will be easy for us to lose heart because our eyes tend to focus on the circumstances.

Let us remember that defeat is never an option for us. But the only way to emerge victoriously is by being committed to praying strenuously and remaining faithful. This does not mean that we should walk around muttering prayers under our breath. Rather, it means we are to be in an ongoing dialogue and constant fellowship with God so that prayer is as normal to us as breathing.

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Tony and Elizabeth have it all – good jobs, a beautiful daughter, and their dream home. But their marriage is crumbling, and Tony is flirting with temptation. When Elizabeth meets her new client, Miss Clara, shes challenged to establish a “war room” and a battle plan for prayer. What will happen if she steps out in faith? 

B. Our praying must also be ALERT.

To be alert when we pray means we must be watchful. The concept “watch and pray!” is often used in the Bible and it had its beginning in Bible history when Nehemiah was rebuilding the walls and gates of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 4:9). This carries the idea of staying awake or standing guard to make sure a location is safe. Just like the guard at the city gate, prayer demands attention.

“Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” – Matthew 26_41

Jesus also used the phrase in the Garden of Gethsemane in Mark 14:38 and Paul in Ephesians 6:18. When Paul exhorts the church to be alert, he’s basically telling them to stay awake while they pray, be mentally alert and spiritually sensitive to the needs for which they pray. There are times when we struggle to stay awake when we pray because our mind and body are tired. At other times we pray as if we are asleep and our prayers sound and feel tired and sleepy.

We are to be alert, vigilant and watchful when we pray because at times we are easily distracted by this world that we tend to take our eyes off Jesus and His soon return. We’re foreigners on this earth just passing through and need to be ready at any time to stand before God and give an account of our lives to Him.

C. Our praying should also be THANKFUL.

Thanksgiving is an important ingredient in successful praying (Philippians 4:6). If all we do is ask, and never thank God for His blessings and gifts, we are selfish. That is why in the ACTS formula of prayer that has been taught to children and new believers for many years; “T” which stands for Thanksgiving is included.

Thanksgiving focuses on what God has done, is doing and will be doing. There are so many things we need to thank God for, including His love, salvation, provision, and protection. We need to give God thanks for everything because sincere gratitude to God is one of the best ways to put fervor into our praying.

D. Finally, our praying ought to be PURPOSEFUL.

Too often our prayers are vague and general. We ask God “to bless our pastors, church leaders, missionaries.” We ask God “to bless our family and loved ones.” How much better it would be if we would pray for specific needs. By doing so, we would know when God answered and we could praise Him for it.

*Related Article: The Importance of Praying for Others

When Paul asked the church at Colossae to pray for him and his associates, he asked for two specific needs: 1) that God would grant them opportunities both inside and outside of prison to preach the gospel and 2) they would preach the truth with courage and clarity.

When Jesus prayed at Gethsemane the night before His arrest, He specifically asked the Father if it is possible for the cup to be taken from Him (Matthew 26:39-42). When God appeared to Solomon in a dream and asked him what he wanted, he asked specifically for wisdom (1 Kings 3:5-14).

Many times our prayers are ineffective because they are too general. We need to step forward in our relationship with God and start praying for specific needs. If we have known the Lord for many years, we need to stop praying childlike prayers and grow in our prayer life by being specific when presenting our requests to God.

Closing Thoughts

Effective prayer is a prayer we know God hears that’s why it is important we all learn how to pray effectively. Developing an effective prayer life may sound like a challenge to some but if we would all just apply these principles taught by the apostle Paul, we can have a prayer life that will change our lives and the way we approach God

When we pray without ceasing with a grateful heart while staying alert and be specific in our requests and petitions, we will be able to tap into the presence of God which in effect will release His power, anointing, and blessings.

*Recommended Resource:

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By Anne Graham Lotz

Join Anne Graham Lotz in a Thrilling Discovery of Prayer that Really Works. The Daniel Prayer is born deep within your soul, erupts through your heart, and pours out on your lips, words created by and infused with the Spirit of God. It’s really not an everyday type of prayer. It’s a prayer birthed under pressure. Heartache. Grief. Desperation. This book will help you pray effectively for your nation, for your families, and for yourself.

12 Replies to “The Effective Prayer Life”

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this information. I think I’ve found what I missed in my prayer: be purposeful. Indeed I often pray for my loved ones generally, but sometimes I feel something is missing there.

    Since this is a topic of effective prayer life, what do you think about praying for each other? For example, I want to pray for my friend’s career success and he will pray for my relationship success. We are sometimes ‘jokingly’ ask about pray for each other, but is it actually permissible? Thank you for your enlightenment.

    1. Hello Alex, thank you for visiting.

      For those of us who believe that prayer actually works, it has become our practice to apply it. We pray to tell God the longings of our heart, to thank Him for His goodness and faithfulness and to ask Him to take care of our family and loved one. However, we often do not realize that in order for our prayer to be more effective, it has to be purposeful, that is, we must tell God exactly what we need. Of course, He knows all our needs even before we tell Him but He would really love for us to be specific.

      Praying for one another is one of the things that Paul and the other apostles repeatedly exhorted all believers to do. So for you to pray for your friend’s needs and for him to pray for yours is biblical. In our local church, we are assigned a prayer partner every week. So during our devotion time, we do not only pray for our’s and our family’s needs, we also pray for the needs (specific and general) of our prayer partner.

      I find this really helpful because whether we admit it or not, there are times when we get so busy at work that we neglect to pray before our day begins or after it ends. But having a prayer partner will motivate us to pray because we know that he/she is praying for us.

      God bless!

  2. Good afternoon Alice,

    I must tell you a bit about my background as only then you might perhaps understand how I think.

    Farther’s father was a Dutch Protestant Missionary in Indonesia. My German grandmother had 8 children in the jungle close to Lake Toba/Sumatra.My other grandmother was a Sufi.

     When my parents met after the war and fell in love they got married in a Protestant church. Coming from such different religious backgrounds they discussed what to do having children. They decided to leave the choice up to their children and that is the reason why I was not baptized.  When I was young my Mother told me about the world religions and I realized the basic idea is always the same. Be a good human, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddist and even people who do not follow a specific religion, it is the same for everybody.

    I soon will be 69 and I am happy where I am. I say thank you every day for the beautiful life I am allowed to live. 

    I believe we are all equal. We all come from the same source and one day we will go back there. Our life journey is meant to go through a personal evolution where we learn to respect the differences of our fellow humans. We all have the Godly Spark inside.

    Regards, Taetske

    1. Hello Taetske,

      First of all I would like to thank you for taking the time to read the article. Although you did not address what this article is about, I truly appreciate you sharing your thoughts about faith and religion.

      And please know that here at Biblical Christianity; we respect everyone else’s beliefs and opinions. We do not write articles to attack and disrespect people who do not share our beliefs.

      I totally understand where you’re coming from. I know a lot of people whose parents were from different religious affiliations or backgrounds and just like you, they were left to decide what religious path to pursue, which they did.

      Anyway, you said that when you were young your mother told you about world religions and from that you realized that they have the same basic idea – to be a good person. I wonder what made you come to that conclusion. I mean, did you actually study world religions? Because if you did, you would realize that they are fundamentally different and at best, superficially the same.

      Just so you know, I did not become a christian because my mother raised me to be one, I came to faith in Christ as a result of God revealing Himself to me and finding out that Christianity is true. Did you know that many former atheists came to faith in the Lord Jesus as a result of discovering the truthfulness of the Christian message?

      So what makes Christianity different from other world views? While other religions teach that you can earn your salvation (your ticket to heaven) by trying to be a good person, the Christian Bible teaches that there is no one good according to God’s standards (Romans 3:10, 23). We were all born sinners; we have sinned against God which caused us to be separated from Him.

      No one can get to heaven by means of his own efforts or good works. All our efforts to live a good life or treat others kindly will not earn us a place in heaven. We are all fallen! That is why God sent His only Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross to pay for our sins. Jesus died so that we can have eternal life and be reconciled with God (John 3:16).

      And Jesus also affirmed that He is the only Way to heaven, no one can come to the Father but by Him (John 14:6).

      We have all been created by God but not every one of us is a child of God. Like I said, we have been separated from God because of sin. The only way we can become children of God is if we believe in the name of Jesus and receive Him as Lord and Savior of our life (John 14:12).

      Should you want to know more, I would like to refer you to these 2 articles:

      Blessings to you!

  3. Hi Alice,

    An active prayer life, is of paramount importance for every individual Child of God. Prayer will have no meaning without effectiveness. Too many times words are wasted in believed to be praying.

     While there is no connection with the spirit of God to bring about the efficiency that is needful to complete the prayer, Jesus prayed an exemplary prayer in Gethsemane. Paul makes it clear as to how we should pray and get a positive result in our time, but we must be in line with God’s word.

    Dorcas W.

    1. Amen to that Dorcas, if we claim to be Christians, an active prayer life is of utmost importance because this is one of the ways we grow spiritually. Prayer is also a very powerful weapon against the works of the enemy. A Christian who has an active prayer life is most likely to overcome every struggle they might have to face.

      But then again, like you said, when we pray, our requests and petitions must be inline with the will of God which He has revealed through His written Word, the Bible.

      God bless you Dorcas.

  4. Thank you for this amazing post, I sincerely appreciate the contents. 

    Prayer is the master key and the scripture even says we should ask and it shall be given. Prayer is very essential in our Christian life and it keeps our spiritual oil burning. I agree with you that our prayer should be without ceasing (faithfulness) and consistent.

    1. Hello Clement, thanks for your comment.

      I love that verse, the one that says, “Ask and it shall be given …(Matthew 7:7) because it’s so true. But often times, we do not ask God because we just assume He will give it to us even without us asking. Of course, God has promised that He will take care of our needs. But think about this, if our earthly father wants us to tell him our concerns, how much more our Father in heaven, right?

      Yes, Christians are exhorted to pray continually because as my pastor often tell us, communication is relation.

      God bless you!

  5. Hello Alice,

    Thank you for providing me the tips towards achieving an effective prayer life. In this current times, people have less interest in the spiritual aspect of their life not knowing that the metaphysical controls the physical. Prayer is the master key to any healthy Christian’s life. I will make sure I try all your wonderful tips and put them to use. 

    Thanks for this helpful post. 

    1. You’re very welcome Salim, I’m glad that you found the tips here helpful in developing an effective prayer life.

      Many people claim to be Christians but neglect the most important part of being one, that is, an effective prayer life. We read how the enemy is always attacking Christians in almost every aspect of their lives and that is they need to be always active in their prayer life.

      If we want to be a victorious Christian, we first need to have a solid and consistent prayer life. As what is depicted in the movie War Room, Christians need to fight their battle on their knees.


  6. This is one interesting article that affirm me about the importance of “performing with your heart.. Since young I believe in speaking from my heart. That’s why whenever I do a prayer, it’s always from the deep bottom of my heart. But one thing that I missed out is being purposeful. Guess I need to really work on this. 

    Thank you so much. 

    1. Hi Florence,

      I agree, whenever we pray or serve God in anyway, we must always do it wholeheartedly, because what matters most to God is the condition of our heart. We can have a very long prayer but if we do not mean it with all our heart, it does not honor God.

      Praying with a purpose is also something that we often neglect to consider. I guess this is because we were not trained to do so. We have gotten used to prayers that very general because we have been taught that God knows what we need even before asking them. But like I said, we need to be specific when asking God for our needs.

      I remember during one of our Bible studies about prayer when I was just starting my spiritual journey with the Lord. The facilitator of group told us a story of a couple who asked God to bless them with a child, for they remain childless after a year of being married. Another year had passed and still they did not receive what they prayed for. So they decided to ask for their pastor to pray for and with them.

      The pastor then asked them how long they have been married and if they have prayed for a child, and they said yes, they spent the previous year asking God everyday to bless them with a child. The pastor asked how exactly did they present their request to God and they said, “Pastor, we have been asking God everyday to bless us with a child.” To which the pastor replied, “When you ask God for something, you should be specific.”

      To make the story short, the couple told their pastor that they wanted their first child to be a boy and the second one to be a girl. So the pastor prayed with the couple and asked God for a baby boy. Shortly after, the wife conceived and the couple welcomed their first child, a boy.

      Specific prayers are definitely more effective. Thank you for stopping by Florence, shalom!

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