If we want to do something, we probably want it to be effective. For example, if we were to take a medicine, we would want it to be a kind of medicine that works well and relieves our fever or whatever sickness we are feeling. Otherwise, what’s the point of taking medicine at all? It is the same when it comes to prayer. We want it to be effective because, if not, we are merely wasting our time offering prayers that either don’t work or do not reach God. The good thing is that the Gospel of Christ offers a solution and answer to this very concern.
Father in heaven, open our eyes to the magnitude of the Gospel, which not only redeems us from sin but has also redeemed our relationship with You, in which we can pray to You. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
What makes prayer effective?
To start with, what makes prayer effective? Does it mean praying for long hours, where the longer the prayer, the better, more powerful, and more effective it is? Or does it mean that the more we repeat certain phrases and words, the more it will convince God and therefore make the prayer more effective? Jesus addressed that particular kind of mindset in Matthew 6:7-8. While teaching His disciples how to pray, He taught them not to heap up empty phrases when praying, with the thought that it would make their prayers be heard by God more powerfully. In fact, God knows our prayers even before we pray them.
In the same way, just because we always repeat the phrase “Father God” or any other phrase throughout our prayer does not affect the effectiveness of our prayer. The same can be said if we think praying for longer periods will make it more effective. This is because that prayer is first based on our relationship with God. The best way to answer this is to ask the question, why do we pray? Because we worship God.
In Psalm 29, God’s identity is revealed. The Psalm shows us the beauty, magnificence, excellence, splendor, majesty, and holiness of God. Therefore, God, being the highest category thereof, deserves to be worshiped as written in Psalm 95:6. One of the ways in which we worship Him is by showing our devotion through prayer and reading His Word. Knowing who God is and acknowledging His holiness makes us pray to Him, not out of obligation or rules, but out of our relationship and worship towards Him. In other words, prayer is our worship of God and our means of communication with Him, just as any relationship needs strong communication.
However, it is also important to note that all of us are initially separated from God because of our sins. Therefore, all of us are in a default state of a broken relationship with God. In fact, we are considered enemies of God because we are sinners, as written in Romans 5:10. Therefore, whatever type of worship we would like to do, it would never reach God, let alone our prayers. Being in sin, we are not even aware of God’s holiness or who He is since we distort or suppress the truth, as written in Romans 1:18-19. Because of our sin, this dividing wall between God and us renders our prayers ineffective. Not only does prayer feel like a useless placebo medicine, but it also makes us feel that God is not there at all, and that is true enough. He is far away because of the gap between a holy God and sinful mankind.
That is where the Gospel comes in. Jesus came to live the life we should have lived and died the death we should have died. He didn’t stay dead, but He resurrected after three days, proving that He is indeed the Son of God and offers eternal life to those who believe in Him and repent. If anyone believes what Christ did and follows Him, then they shall be found in Christ. If a person is found in Christ, He is pardoned and forgiven of his or her sins. The dividing wall between God and us, as written in Ephesians 2:14-16, has been broken down, and we are reconciled with God. We have peace with God through Christ. In Christ, we are also adopted as God’s children, as written in Romans 8:15. It is because of the finished work of Christ that our prayers can reach God and be effective.
It is also important to note that we must pray in faith when we pray. Prayers are useless if they are not prayed out of faith because everything that we do should be done out of faith. Faith means trusting in the sovereignty and wisdom of God. Knowing who God is and His power, we pray to Him, and we do this in faith. That is why we can pray to God for big things, as written in Mark 11:23-24.
Lastly, in James 5:16, it is written that the prayer of the righteous person has great power. It gives us a picture that only a righteous person can have powerful and effective prayers, which means that on our own, with our sin, we can’t pray powerful and effective prayers, as we are not righteous because of our sin. However, this changes if a person is in Christ. If we are in Christ, then Christ has imputed His righteousness upon us, such that when the Father looks at us, He does not see our sin but the perfect righteousness of Christ in us, therefore making our prayers effective and powerful. In 2 Corinthians 5:21, it is written that God made Christ, who knew no sin so that in Christ we might become the righteousness of God.
Father in heaven, I thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus Christ, to die for our sins. Because of His finished work, we are reconciled to You and even adopted as Your children. Thank You, as Christ’s atoning sacrifice has torn the veil between You and us and has brought peace between us. Christ is my only righteousness through which I can confidently pray. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
How can we pray an effective prayer?
As mentioned above, the only way for a prayer to be effective and powerful is to be in Christ. Only when we are in Christ are we righteous and have access to God. Therefore, more than asking the question, “How can we pray an effective prayer?” the better question to ask is, “Are we in Christ?” “Have we believed the Gospel and repented?” If we want to be able to pray effective prayers that reach God and have power, we ought to be in Christ. In other words, Christ is the answer. If you are in Christ, all the prayers that you say are powerful and effective. You don’t have to follow special steps to make it more powerful and effective than it already is.
However, it’s also important to note that the primary reason why we want to believe in Christ and repent is that we know that we need a savior, not just because we want our prayers to work. God is not a genie. More than prayers being answered, the Gospel gives solutions to the most important problem of mankind, which is sin. The Gospel delivers us from sin, sets us free from its bondage, rescues us from the consequence of eternal death, and allows us to be the vessel of the Holy Spirit, who conforms us to the image of Christ.
Heavenly Father, I thank You because the Gospel not only makes my prayers effective and powerful, but most of all, it delivers us from sin. Not only am I free from the bondage of sin, but it has also made me a new creation that can grow in the image of Christ and be sanctified. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Just because we are in Christ and our prayers are powerful and effective does not mean that all our prayers will be answered. As mentioned above, God is not some kind of cosmic genie. He is God, all-knowing, holy, and all-powerful. His wisdom is infinite, just as He is infinite. Whatever answers He gives, He gives because He knows better than we do what is good for us. That is our confidence that God, who is our benevolent Father, only gives good gifts to His children, as written in Matthew 7:11.