Many articles have been written over the years on the ingredients that produce effective prayers in the life of a Christian. Faith, perseverance, energy, patience, and the rest are all great and powerful tools to achieve desired results when praying. Today, I’d like to address two important elements of prayers that are seldom mentioned; they are so essential that when absent, they can counteract the effectiveness of prayers. I’m talking about: Praying with clean hands (and a pure heart) and praying biblically.
There are moments when our Heavenly Father does not answer our prayers because He wants us to wait upon His perfect time. There are also those other moments when we ourselves prevent these requests from being answered. I see various women pray fervently and without ceasing, yet during their daily activities they live far away from the principles of God. We can’t expect to go on cheating, watching dirty TV programs, gossiping, and lying during the day and then afterwards, pray to the Lord. We can’t be walking in disobedience and still desire the Lord to bless us. Numerous verses in the Bible emphasize the need to be clean before God in order for our prayers to be accepted.
The Lord’s arm is not too weak to save you, nor is His ear too deaf to hear you call. It’s your sins that have cut you off from God. Because of your sins, He has turned away and will not listen anymore–Isaiah 59:1-2
Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much–James 5:16
Before beginning to offer ‘effective’ and ‘fervent’ prayers, the Bible says to first ‘confess our sins to one another.’ We can’t go about consciously hurting people and then present our needs to the Lord in prayer. Remember, God cannot be mocked. Confessing our sins to one another and apologizing to those we have wronged must come before prayer. That’s exactly what the Lord Jesus insisted upon in Matthew 5:23-24 “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” Whether the gift is an offering of praise or prayer, our Heavenly Father wants us to approach Him with clean hands and a pure heart. Again, the Lord Jesus re-emphasized this in Matthew 18:19-20: “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” Many have taken these verses out of context by just believing that if there are two or more persons present in a given room, God is in their midst. Jesus is first of all talking about ‘agreeing’ with one another, verses 15-17 of Matthew 18 are referring to brothers who are not in ‘agreement’ because of a sin issue. Hence, if we want our request to ‘be done for us in heaven’ and God to be in our midst, our hearts must be at peace with each other and our hands washed from all sins. Another element worth noting in James 5:16, the Bible is referring to the prayer of a righteous man; he is not a sinless person, but an individual who submits to the Word of God and confesses his sins. Besides, the devil can never be afraid of our rebukes when we are disobedient to God. The reason why the sons of Sceva could not drive away the demon in Acts 19:13-16 (though they had prayed in the name of Jesus) was due to their lack of fellowship and communion with Christ. So, this really shows us how important it is to have clean hands and a pure heart.
Praying biblically simply means that our prayer requests are in accordance with the Word of God. Praying for a car just because we’ve seen our neighbor with one is just praying out of envy/jealousy. Praying for marriage just because all our friends are married or our biological clock is ticking is not biblical. On the contrary, if we say: “Father, please provide me with a car, I need it due to my present situation, and You said in Your Word that You will ‘supply all my need according to Your riches in glory by Christ Jesus.’” Now, you have an example of praying biblically. Another example is to say: “Father, I know that You have called me for marriage because I have this desire in my heart, and Your Word says ‘therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh,’ I claim this verse and ask you Father to let my husband be joined to me.” When we pray in this manner, we go along with what the apostle John said in 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.”
For our prayers to be effective and powerful, we should always make sure that before rushing into the presence of God, we have confessed our sins to one another. Otherwise, we can pray for days and our Father’s ear will always be shut to our pleas. Additionally, we must know the Word of God in order to pray according to the Father’s will instead of our selfish and lustful ambitions. Stay blessed ladies!