Ingredients of Effective Prayer (Part 1)

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‘O LORD my God, I called to you for help and you healed me. O LORD, you brought me up from the grave; you spared me from going down into the pit.’ – Psalm 30:2-3 (NIV)

Just because everything around us says, ‘It’s over’ doesn’t mean we have to throw in the towel. In Psalm 30 everything around David was saying that his situation was hopeless. He tells us that he was down ‘in the depths’ and that his situation was like being ‘in the grave’. It must have looked the reasonable thing to do, to give up, but he did not throw up his hands in defeat. Instead he prayed and petitioned God until his situation changed. God wants to teach us to turn our situations around through prayer.

David said, ‘You (God) turned my wailing into dancing’ (v.11). Yet there would be no contradiction if we rephrased that to say: ‘David turned his wailing into dancing through prayer’, for God works through prayer. Someone has said, ‘When man works, man works. But when man prays, God works’. Prayer is not some spiritual abstract thing we do to console ourselves and hide from reality. Prayer is reality! Prayer is the means through which God works.

We catch a glimpse of what made David’s prayer effective in vs. 8-10. First, he was desperate. He says, ‘I cried for mercy’. Not ‘I asked for mercy’ but ‘I cried’. Prayer comes alive when it becomes desperate. How much do you really want what you are asking for? It is not how loud you shout or whether you shed some tears, but rather how much of your heart is in your prayer? How much do you truly long to see what you are asking for? A friend once said, ‘God will hear our heart without our lips, but he will not hear our lips without our heart’. And I am not speaking of feelings or emotions here.

Secondly, David was bold as he reasoned with God. Prayer should have something of the boldness that comes from believing that God will do what he has promised. God loves it when we pray boldly asking him to do what he has promised to do and expecting him to do it. We should be bold enough to be specific in our request. Some people pray in such vague ways that they never know if they are answered or not. Not only should we be specific, we should also be expectant. It doesn’t honour our Father when we pray with uncertainty that he will hear us.

Lastly, David did not cease praying until God responded. There is power in praying and not giving up until the answer comes. David’s answer did not come immediately. Maybe things seemed to be getting worse even as he kept praying. Yet he did not faint. Don’t stop praying because things are getting worse. Keep on praying. Our Lord taught that we ‘should always pray and not give up’ (Luke 18:1b – NIV). God wants us to make persevering prayer a part of our life. ‘Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning’ if we do not give up.

So David teaches us the ingredients of effective prayer. He was desperate – his whole heart was in his prayer. He was bold – he expected God to do what he had promised. And he persevered – he did not give up!

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PLEASE are you born again? It is not enough to believe in the existence of God, to go to church, or be interested in spiritual things. Jesus said “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Jesus died to deliver you from sin so that you can come to God. (John 3:16) If you ask him to forgive you and give you a new heart he will. (Acts 2:38; Romans 10:9-11).Try it. I’d love to hear from you @
Chim’sWRITE are regular articles on Christian living and cross-cultural missions from Chimezie Onyebilanma a cross-cultural missionary with Calvary Ministries (CAPRO). CAPRO is an indigenous African non-denominational cross-cultural  mission agency involved in reaching the remaining unreached peoples in 22 countries of Africa and the Middle East as of present. CAPRO is involved in missions mobilization, training, and research as well as church-planting and mercy ministries (literacy, rural development, primary health-care, relief and rehabilitation). CAPRO is a faith mission, both the ministry and its missionaries depend on God’s provision through the giving of his people. None of its missionaries are salaried. All gifts are used as designated.

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