Prayer as you probably know and heard many times is such an important aspect in our lives.
Some have suggested that prayer is the “oxygen of the soul” for a Christian and without it, we simply die. Yet, as vital as prayer is, it seems to be one of the areas most struggle with. I’m careful with that word “most” because I’d be more leaning to use the world “all”.
Still to this day, I haven’t met a follower of Jesus that did not struggle with prayer at some point in his or her life.
They are great at serving, giving, hospitality, evangelism, Bible reading but when it comes to developing a life of prayer, many will admit that they are not so great in that area. That if God would grade them in prayer, they would receive an F.
Well, what if I told you that you can have an A in prayer instead of an F?
This guide will provide a pathway towards achieving that based on what the Bible teaches about prayer. This is not an article on how to pray, what to pray or the different ways to pray but we will focus more on possessing the right attitude in prayer.
Because our attitude in prayer will determine if we get a favourable answer to our prayers. Did you know that two of us could pray for the exact same thing, the exact same way, at the exact same time and won’t get the same results? One could get an A and one an F.
A = Favourable answer to prayer.
F= The prayer wasn’t answered due to something wrong with the request or the one making the request.
And the difference between the two is found in our attitude in prayer.
I’d like to say it this way :
Our attitude in prayer will determine our altitude with God.
Now, before we start unpacking the attitudes we should have in prayer, let’s talk about some of the attitudes we need to watch out for.
A bad attitude is like a flat tire until you change it you won’t go anywhere.Unknown.
Let’s look at some of the wrong attitudes in prayer before we unpack the ones we want.
First, there’s the obvious one:
Failure to ask
We could read books, hear sermons and read verses in the Bible about prayer but if we fail to pray for whatever reason, prayer is not going to work for us.
Simply said, prayer won’t work if you simply fail to ask.
You do not have because you do not ask God.James 4:2 NIV
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.Matthew 7:7
Now the second attitude to avoid is having a:
This is an attitude that forgets what God has done for you in the past.
Failing to remember how God came through the last time you struggled with whatever it is that you’re praying about. Or, this attitude simply forgets what His word says about such and such.
So, when God does something, answers prayers, heals, provides, protects, directs, speaks – write it down. Remember it so that the next time you’re in a similar situation, you could look back and pray something like:
Lord you are the same yesterday today and forever. You came through yesterday therefore you could come through today. You provided yesterday, you could provide today. You healed yesterday, you can heal today. You made a way where there was no way yesterday, you can make a way today. You answered my prayer yesterday, you can answer my prayer today.
David declared and you may may need to do the same:
I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
12 I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.” 13 Your ways, God, are holy. What god is as great as our God? 14 You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples.Psalm 77:11-14 NIV
Friends, lets not suffer from spiritual amnesia.
The word remember and similar use of that word is found somewhere around 550 times in the Bible.
Let’s not forget that the Lord has done and what He is capable of doing.
A fake attitude will affect your prayers.
A lot of the religious people in Jesus’s day, the Pharisees, were simply fake.
A lot of the prayers they did were not authentic and genuine.
They were fake and Jesus called them out on it.
They prayed prayers not because they wanted to be heard by God but to be seen by men.
And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.Matthew 6:5
For prayer to work our prayers can’t be fake.
In a day where people use prayer to score political points or in a time where prayer is something you say you do but you don’t really do, in a time where prayer seems to be more of a cliche than the practice for many, friends let’s be real and not fake!
The fourth attitude that will negatively impact your prayers is what I call a foul attitude.
There’s a few instance in the Bible where prayer is referred to as incense that reaches heaven. Incense has a smell to it, it can be an enjoyable fragrance. It can smells really good or it can have a bad smell. A foul smell to it.
When we have a foul attitude, I really believe that our prayers stink to God.
What is a foul attitude?
Well, David said:
If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened…Psalm 66:18 NIV
Prayers offered to God with sin in our hearts will cary some kind of foul odour unless we confess and turn from that sin.
If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.Proverbs 28:9 ESV
This is true for your heart, but it goes further than that.
You can have a foul attitude with how you treat your your kids, your parents, your wife, your husband, your boss your coworkers, your brothers and sisters in the Lord.
If you are a person who refuses to forgive and holds on to grudges, you’re going to have a hard time getting hold of God in prayer.
Because part of the prayer is forgive us as we forgive others.
Listen to what Jesus had to say about this:
Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”Mark 11:24-25 NIV
Are you seeing this?
If I refuse to forgive anything from anyone then I’m going to have a problem experiencing breakthrough in prayer.
In 1 Peter 3:7, Peter tells us that if a husband and later on we see a wife, doesn’t treat each other with respect than it can hinder your prayers.
A foul attitude is something we need to run from.
Now this can go both ways but what I mean here is familiar in terms of making something or someone that is valuable, precious and special and treating as common. Taken them for granted.
To make light of something precious and valuable.
We have an example of this about Jesus himself. (Read Mark 6:1-16 NIV)
Their familiarity made them doubt that Jesus was supernatural.
They knew his mother, they knew him as a child – their familiarity and lack of respect and honour made it that:
He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them.Mark 6:5 NIV
Now that we looked at the attitudes to repent and walk away from, let’s look at those we want to cultivate.
I don’t know about you but one of my great struggles when it comes to prayer is being focussed.
I may start praying for something or someone and then all of sudden I’m thinking of something completely off topic.
It has to do with how the mind is wired and how it associate with things in a pattern. The mind link things together.
If I say lion, some of you are thinking Lion of Judah, others are thinking about Lion King.
So that is one area I must be focused that maybe some of you need to be focused as well.
For others who are reading this, it’s not your mind or your thoughts it’s your cell phone. Every time you pray and you get a notification on your cell phone you’re distracted. You started praying but then 10 minutes into it you’re texting, you’re Facebooking, you’re emailing.
Or maybe you’re a parent and it’s not your cell phone beeping it’s your kids calling you.
And whether it’s the phone or your kids, it always seems like it’s an emergency… right?
So what do we do to stay focussed in prayer?
Part of that text has to do with not doing things to be seen by men.
But I also think there’s a practical aspect here because when you go to your room and close the door, you’re also closing the door to distractions.
It’s much easier to focus.
There’s other ways you could stay focussed you could kneel when you pray.
Kneeling is form of submission, it helps you have the right posture.
You can also walk in prayer helps you focus, you could put on some worship music in the background.
But find what works for you.
The important thing here is to have a quality time in prayer.
The second thing to cultivate is similar to being focused it’s an attitude of
having our eyes fixed on Jesus.
The first one we talked about is being Focus to pray. Here we’re fixed on Jesus in prayer.
In other words, we are focussing on the source of the answered prayer which is God himself.
Why is this important?
Well, a lot of times when you are praying to God you bring the situation, you bring a person or a problem and it’s very easy to focus on the problem on the need or the situation.
But if your eyes remained fixed on Jesus, it will give your prayers a proper perspective.
You will pray prayers according to the ability of God.
Elijah, who was a courageous prophet in the Old Testament had a moment of weakness after the Queen Jezebel threatened his life. He became fixed on what she said and started praying defeated prayers. He kept saying to God that no one follows him and that he was the only one left. He even asked that God would take his life. What happened to this great man of God? He was fixed on what she (Jezebel) said instead of what He (God) said.
Let’s fix our eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith when we pray.
The word for fervent is the greek word: Energeó.
We get the idea of energy, energizing. It’s a very active and non-passive word.
To be at work, to work, to do.
It basically means to put your heart, your mind and your soul into it.
The usage of the word is a term like an electrical current energizing a wire, bringing it to a shining lightbulb.
The Oxford dictionary defines someone who is fervent as:
Having or displaying a passionate intensity.Oxford Dictionary
The Merriam dictionary says that a person who is fervent is burning hot.
So we get the idea here that the person requesting, the person praying, petitioning is fervent, is burning hot, is passionate and intense.
In prpayer there are times we need to be quiet in order to hear God speak.
But there’s part of prayer that is everything but quiet.
We get the idea that when Jesus prayed he was very fervent.
We see this when the apostle Peter was in prison.
Verse Acts 12:5 says the church prayed for him but watch how they prayed for him.
The greek word for earnestly is : Ektenós that word is the same as fervently.
I’m not proposing that you need to be loud and yell and shout every single time for your prayers to be heard.
All I’m saying is that you and I need to be fervent in our prayers.
Another attitude we must cultivate in prayer is the attitude of a:
When you make a decision to intently seek the Lord in prayer there’s going to be a fight, a spiritual one. Your enemy the Devil will not like that decision.
But there’s another fight you will battle with and that is with the flesh.
Your flesh is going to be weak, lazy, do a lot of things except prayer.
This is why Jesus said:
When you and I commit to prayer there’s going to be a fight against the flesh because your flesh is weak.
We need to be able to fight the flesh, the appetites of the flesh, the distractions of the flesh and the temptations of the flesh.
And that is fought in prayer as Jesus prescribed to us.
Another area we need to fight is in perseverance. To not to give up in prayer.
Praying continually is part of God’s will for your life.
Sometimes its easy, you feel like it, there’s an atmosphere of prayer but other times, you don’t.
But be faithful, fight the temptations to call it quits.
The fifth practice is to have prayers that are:
Founded in the Word of God.
When your attitude and reflex is to pray prayers that are in the Bible, you are setting yourself up for a miracle!
Watch the promise we have when our prayers are founded in the word of God:
When we use God’s own words by praying Scripture, we’re aligning ourselves with his heart and praying according to His will.
Jesus is calling us to believe in Him when we pray.
If 2020 taught us anything, it is that nothing is sure and nothing is forever.
And this is why we must have faith in God when we pray.