"The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much."
- James 5:16 NKJV
No matter where you are in your prayer life right now, you can come up higher. Let me share with you some things that I believe will increase your percentage of answered prayer.
First, prayer should be specific. Scripture tells us: "Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God." (Philippians 4:6 AMP) A good definition of the word "definite" is: "Clearly defined or determined; not vague or general." One reason why we should pray specific prayers is that it helps us to recognize when our prayers are answered--and answered prayer can have a powerful and positive effect on our faith. It's okay to ask the Lord to increase your finances. But don't stop there. Ask Him to supply some of your specific needs. What prompted you to pray in the first place? Were you worried about paying your mortgage, car repair bill, or fuel costs? Tell the Lord exactly what has you concerned at the time, and ask Him for His provision. Then when the need is supplied, you will readily recognize that it was God's doing, and you can thank Him for the answer. Praying specifically enables us to thank and praise God specifically, too. Consequently, we'll be less likely to overlook His blessings.
We learn from the Gospels that when people approached Jesus with a need, He often asked, "What do you want Me to do for you?" (Luke 18:41; Matthew 20:32; Mark 10:36; Mark 10:51) The fact that He asked this question even when the need was obvious tells us something important. The Lord wanted the request to be specific. It takes humility to ask God for help with our finances. But it takes even more humility to say, "Lord, if You don't help me with my mortgage payment this month, I'm not going to be able to make it." In a case like this, when God faithfully supplies the need, He will get the glory.
Secondly, prayer should be earnest. The word "earnest" isn't a popular word these days, but it's a great Bible word. It means: "Serious in intention, purpose, or effort." In other words, if we want our percentage of answered prayer to increase, we need to get serious about our praying. Scripture says, "The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results." (James 5:16 NLT) Our prayers should be filled with passion and emotion. If we tend to be distracted and unfocused in our praying, we shouldn't be too surprised if our efforts aren't richly rewarded. It's true that we can pray anywhere, at anytime--but if we're never spending time getting quiet before the Lord in prayer, we simply won't hear from Him the way we desire to. Setting aside regular quiet times with God will show Him that we are serious about our prayer life and our relationship with Him.
One of the best lessons I ever learned on prayer was from a man I know who owns a local Christian bookstore. He told me about one of his customers who was a former satanic high priest. This young man told him simply--"When you pray, really mean it." Passionate prayer has a devastating effect on the devil and his kingdom.
God has blessings and victories in store for You that can only be released through effective prayer. I challenge you to begin applying these powerful principles today--and watch the Lord work on your behalf!
Prayer: Lord, forgive me for praying vague and anemic prayers. Teach me how to be more specific in my petitions, so that I will recognize Your answers to my prayers and give You glory. Show me how to pray with passion and emotion, keeping my focus on You. Thank You for the harvest of answered prayer I'll reap as a result.
- J. M. Farro