Do you ever fear your prayers aren't working? Like they never ascend past the ceiling? Do you suspect they might just be you talking to yourself, instead of talking to God?
How do prayers obtain the feet and muscle necessary to be effective?
I have wondered the same in the past. I thought there must be a secret I needed to learn - like a covert password or secret handshake. So I experimented with different approaches:
- I prayed the same prayer over and over
- I sacrificially gave up something to prove to the Lord how serious I was
- I shared pious-sounding prayer requests to friends (which sounded suspiciously like complaints)
- I worried, fretted, cried, and felt sick to my stomach, and then labeled those actions prayer
- Finally, I felt guilty because if the "effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much" (James 5:16b, NASB) then obviously I wasn't righteous enough since my prayer was not effective
What was I doing wrong? What ingredient was I missing ?
It Was The Wrong Pronoun
The problem was not the process. It was the pronoun.
Every statement and focus above is "I" - I, I, I.
But prayer rests not on how "I" pray, but WHO I pray to, "He" - He, He, He.
The problem with my previous approach was it centered on what I need to DO. I trusted in my efforts, my process, my work.
But if I want to pray, pray with power, and confidently rest in the knowledge that the prayer is working, I have to do less and rest more. I have to trust. Trust in "He." He Who created the universe, and Who clothes the sparrow. He Who causes nations to rise and fall, and Who holds my tears.
The danger of asserting something like this blog's title, "The MOST IMPORTANT Ingredient For Prayer To Work" is that it still sounds like it is about what we DO. But effective prayer isn't about WHAT WE DO, prayer that works is because of WHO WE PRAY TO!
The Most Important Ingredient: Trust
To pray effectively I must have faith, but in order for my faith to thrive, I have to TRUST the Lord IS Who He says He is and DOES ALL He says He will do.
- I, I am the LORD, and besides me there is no savior. (Isaiah 43:11 ESV)
If neither I, nor the people I love, have Any Other Savior, then I better get to know the only Savior we have. The more I know, the better I trust.
Here is a sample of Who and What my trustworthy Jesus is. The verses below are all from the book of John:
- 6:48- the BREAD of life (feeds and sustains us)
- 8:12- the LIGHT of the world (never leaves us in the dark)
- 10:11- the GOOD SHEPHERD (directs and provides for us)
- 11:25- the RESURRECTION and the LIFE (source of salvation)
- 14:6- the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE (He is where we should go, what we should know, and how we should live)
- 15:5- the VINE and we are the branches (He is the source of all life in us)
And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you. (Psalm 9:10 ESV)
Hi. My name is Susan. I am a do-er. It has been thirty minutes since I tried to do in my own strength what I needed to TRUST Jesus to do.
Any other do-ers out there?
My BATTLE to trust continues to fiercely rage to this day. Trust might sound like a feeling, but it starts as an action. I fight to trust, and battle to slay self-reliance almost hourly.
When circumstances align...... I am a champion truster. My happy situation confirms God is at work, doing His job, and all is right with the world. My prayers are nice "Thank You" prayers, and then I pray for the poor on the other side of the globe. All is copacetic and my faith affirmed.
But when my world gets turned on its head? When failure occurs? When finances, health, kids, marriage, or relationships take a downward turn, what do I do then? Trust?
- When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. (Psalm 56:3 ESV)
WHEN I am afraid is the exact time I must place my trust in Jesus. While still afraid, I begin praying from the starting point of what I know about Jesus - His strength, love, and power. Because of WHO He is and WHAT He can do, I pray with confidence.
- Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. (Psalm 37:5 ESV)
What I DO does not increase my prayer's effectiveness. I can't worry an answer into existence. I can't beg God's hand into movement.
I CAN confidently place every need into my Abba's hands and TRUST Him to answer perfectly.