"The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much" (James 5:16). Prayer is one of the most powerful tools the Christian has as his possession. Yet, it is sadly one of the most overlooked and under-used tools God has given us. Just imagine how long we would stay on the phone if we could call God directly from our home phone and talk to Him. In essence we do have this kind of communication. Jesus said, "Men ought to pray always and never loose heart" (Lk. 18:1). Jesus tells us, "If you ask anything in my name I will do it" (John 14:14). Since prayer is such a powerful tool, how can we become a more prayerful people? Let me suggest three principles to strengthen our prayer life.
1. Realize the Power of Prayer. In times of trouble and distress of heart God's people always turned to Him. Peter tells us to "cast all our cares upon Him for He cares for you" (1 Pet. 5:7). Paul encouraged the Christians in Philippi to "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God" (Phil. 4:6). Until we realize that "prayer moves the hand the moves the world" we will not use it regularly.
2. Realize the Purpose of Prayer. All too often prayer becomes a "gimme-session" where all we do is ask God to give us certain things and tell Him what we need. In the Bible, prayer is more often than not a time for God's people to praise and magnify His holy name (Read Daniel 8:4, Matt. 6:9). Instead of jumping right into telling God what we need, we should take the time to laud His holy name. When we do praise God in our prayers it should humble us and cause us to realize the proper priorities in life.
3. Realize the Patience of Prayer. Many people give up on prayer because they do not get an immediate response, or so they think. Garth Brook's song "I thank God for unanswered prayers" has done more harm to prayer than we realize. Many people have not yet realized that song is unscriptural. There is NO unanswered prayer. The response may be different than what we expect. It may come at a later time. Or, the answer may be no. Please realize that God knows what is best for us and when it is best (Rom. 8:28).
If we truly realize that prayer is one of the most powerful tools we have to praise God then we will begin to use it more. May God give us the strength to be a more prayerful people!