The Secret of Praying Effectively
Are you receiving answers to your prayers, or does it seem like they’re bouncing off the ceiling? If you wouldn’t characterize your prayers as “effective,” open your mind and heart to something that may seem heretical, but it’s not. Let’s consider what we usually do when someone has a serious health issue. We immediately pray for healing and may go so far as to put them on the local “prayer chain.” While praying for one another in certainly biblical, our attitude behind it may be counter-productive. Let me show you why.

In the first place, we must remember that God allows everything that happens to us, including our physical infirmities. (Check out Exodus 4:11 for an interesting perspective.) So, when we’re physically afflicted, God has a reason. He doesn’t waste anything in our lives and often when He’s up to something big, He allows us to undergo what seems to us like a serious setback. It often sends us to our knees. So, how should we pray?

James 5:16 tells us that the effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much, and that Elijah, who had a nature just like ours, prayed for a drought and it didn’t rain for 3 ½ yrs. That’s an effective prayer! Notice what the verse doesn’t say. It doesn’t say the “prayers of a multitude” will accomplish much. It says that one single prayer warrior can have amazing results. Here’s where we go wrong. Sometimes we act as if with enough lobbyists we can overrule God or change His mind, or maybe he’ll be impressed with the numbers. Trust me, putting the request for healing on the Internet won’t accomplish a thing if God has something else in mind.

I have been helping a friend (Fred) go through a very difficult time. He was (and still is) experiencing a rapid onset of an affliction that has caused him to deteriorate at a frightening pace. Not long ago, he was convinced he would be dead in a few weeks. Praise God, it now looks like that’s not the case, but his prognosis is still uncertain. While we (his close friends) share his struggle as he waits for a diagnosis, we have been watching God do some amazing things in his life, his marriage, and in the lives of everyone involved. Several ministries are developing right before our eyes. Unbelievers who are brought in to help are having their whole perspective on life changed. Priorities are being reassessed. I personally have been having some of the sweetest prayer times of my life praying with Fred. We have no doubt that the ministry forming in Fred’s life will be much more powerful than if he had remained healthy.

So the next time there’s a need, let’s focus on the quality instead of the quantity of our prayers. Let’s make sure we’re not praying against what God may be doing. We can ask for healing, but not before God’s purpose behind the affliction is accomplished. God may be up to something big, and it’s all about Him receiving the glory He deserves. Look at it this way. Consider these two scenarios: the blind man who instantly received his sight when Jesus spit into some mud, or Joni Eareckson Tada‘s ministry that has resulted from 45 years as a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the shoulders down. Which one affected the greatest number of people? Which one do you think brought the greatest glory to God?

I am so thankful that God’s ways are much higher than our ways. Let’s not limit Him by our puny, selfish prayers. Let’s follow Christ’s model- not my will, but Thine.