Most believers want their prayers to be effective. In other words, they want their prayers to be successful in producing a desired or intended result. Ask God and bam, the desires of our heart are fulfilled.
But past experience has taught us that prayer doesn’t work that way. We know we don’t receive from God everything we ask of him. And because we don’t, we try to think up reasons as to why. We might think it’s because of the way we’re praying or the words we’re using, or even because God hasn’t forgiven us for some sin in our life.
An effective prayer has nothing to do with how we’re praying or even what we’re saying — it has more to do with the person who is actually praying. Listen to what James says about prayer,
“The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16 NIV).
While the word “righteous” sounds intimidating in the above verse, it should not threaten us if we think about it properly. No man can approach God in his own righteousness because he will never measure up. Paul tells us in Romans 3:23-24,
“...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
To be justified is to be declared righteous. Not because of anything we’ve done to deserve it, but only through the gift of God’s grace. And the ultimate gift of God’s grace is his son, Jesus Christ. Once we accept Christ as our Savior, our sins are forgiven and we are clothed with his righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Righteousness goes even further. It also refers to our Christian walk. We should be living upright, pleasing lives that honor God. While no man is perfect, we need to confess our sin and strive to obey God in every area of our lives (Romans 6:15-23).
The bottom line is this: those who’ve accepted Christ as their Savior and who strive to live upright Christian lives have powerful prayers. Why? Because their prayers are linked to a God that is all-powerful. The prayer itself isn’t powerful, but the one whom we’re communicating with is. Through Christ, we have access to the Creator of the universe — the all-mighty God of all that is — the Alpha and the Omega — and that is power.
While here on this earth none of us should ever be satisfied and say, “My prayer life is all that it should be.” Instead, we should always be striving for more and more communication with our God and continue praying constantly in every circumstance.
Remember, prayers aren’t effective because of what we say or how we say it; our prayers are effective because of a great God who loves and cares for us. He alone is what makes our prayers effective.
Donna Hughey of Crescent City is an award winning Christian author and columnist. Her column “Everyday Believer” can be found every Saturday in the Del Norte Triplicate.