PRAISE: The First Step in Effective Prayer
Praying consistently will change your life. In fact, many of
the blessings God wants you to enjoy
will never be realized unless you
I think all Christians know they are supposed to pray, and all
Christians want to pray. But many
of God's people, if they
are completely frank and transparent about the issue, would have to
their prayer life is somewhere between mediocre and non-existent.
I want to share with you four simple points which I have put into an
If you can spell the word pray,
hopefully you will be able to remember how to make your prayer life
more effective, and you will be inspired to pray more consistently.
Psalm 100 helps us understand the first letter, "P", in the word
P-R-A-Y, which stands for praise. Psalm 100:1-4
states it well,
Make a joyful
shout to the LORD, all you lands! Serve the LORD with
gladness; come before His presence with singing. Know that
the LORD, He is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we
are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His
gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be
thankful to Him, and bless His name.
Verse 2 tells us, Come before His presence with singing. And
in verse 4 notice the words "enter into." In other words,
praise is how you are to enter God's presence. It is the best
way to begin your prayer.
When you want to come to God, you start with thanksgiving.
You start with singing.
You start with praise. Or,
as "The Message" says, Enter with the password: "Thank you!"
Today, and every day, make praise the starting point of every
conversation with God!
REPENT: The Second Step in Effective Prayer
We began to look at what makes for effective prayer by using the
The first step is praise. Now, I
want to focus on the second letter of our acronym, "R",
By repentance in prayer, I mean taking the time before God to search
your heart and repent of anything that has come between you and
expresses it well,
Who can understand
his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults.
back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have
dominion over me.
Then I shall be blameless, and I shall be
innocent of great transgression.
Verse 12 begins with the question, "Who can understand his
errors?" The psalmist is telling us,
"You will not always
know when you do something wrong. You will not always know
get into an area that is not right."
What David is pointing to are the secret faults and presumptuous sins
which can still have
dominion over you--even though you may not be
aware that what you did was wrong.
For example, sometimes we can allow attitudes to get into our hearts
that we don't realize are inconsistent with God's character.
Or sometimes we can do and say things that are detrimental,
not only to
us, but to others, and not really understand the damage we have done.
How do you deal with these sins? You come before God and say,
"God, put the spotlight on
anything in my life that has raised a
barrier between You and me, and I will repent of it."
So when you pray, ask God to reveal any sin in your life you may be
God will honor your heart of repentance.
ASK: The Third Step in Effective Prayer
So far we have discovered that praise and repentance are the first two
steps to effective prayer. Now I want to show you the very
important third step of asking.
We talked about how repentance is searching your own heart and asking
God to put the spotlight
on it, and then repenting of anything that He
shows you. When your heart is clean, you can have confidence
before God when you ask. As 1 John 3:21-22
Beloved, if our
heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God.
whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments
and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.
In Matthew 7:7-11
Jesus tells us,
"Ask, and it will
be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened
For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks
finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.
Or what man
is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a
stone? Or if he
asks for a fish, will he give him a
serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts
to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give
good things to those who ask Him!"
Pretty clear, isn't it? God loves you and wants the very best
for you. Be careful not to water down the words of Jesus, or
somehow try and explain them away or complicate them. He
meant just what He said.
But there are some conditions. And we will look at those
conditions for receiving what you ask
Conditions for Answered Prayer
We talked about the "A" in the acronym P-R-A-Y, which is our way of
understanding the steps in effective prayer. That "A" stands
for ask, and I have come to believe that too many Christians
believe that God wants them to ask.
God wants you to ask. He really does. But there are
some conditions He gives in order to answer your requests. In
John chapters 14-16
we find a number of these conditions.
We need to remember that these are Jesus' last hours with the
disciples; and He wants them to understand how prayer really
works. Over and over He emphasizes the need to ask, but His
answers will be based on three conditions.
First, in John 14:13
Jesus says your request must glorify God,
"And whatever you
ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the
If you ask anything in My name, I will do it."
Second, in John 15:7
He says your request must be consistent and in harmony with His Word,
"If you abide in
Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it
done for you."
And finally, in John
, Jesus sets the condition that your request bring
"And in that day
you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you,
whatever you ask the
Father in My name He will give you.
Until now you have asked nothing in My name.
Ask, and you
will receive, that your joy may be full."
Over and over, Jesus commands you to ask. But when you ask,
make sure your request will
glorify God, that it is consistent with His
Word, and that it will bring you joy.
YIELD: The Fourth Step in Effective Prayer
Psalm 37:4 provides us the "Y" in the acronym P-R-A-Y, the four
elements to effective prayer
we have been discussing.
Here is what Psalm 37:4
also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.
Now the Hebrew word for delight in this verse literally means to become
soft or pliable.
This means that "delighting" in the Lord is
assuming a yielded posture before God.
So the "Y" in P-R-A-Y stands for yield. The question
is: How do you practice yielding to God
pray? Yielding is when you stop talking, and you
wait, listen, and seek to hear from God.
In my own practice of prayer, I will often bow before God and ask Him,
"God, is there anything
You want to say to me? Do You have
any instructions for me? Is there anything You want me
Then I silently wait for Him to speak to me.
As you assume this posture of being yielded and waiting quietly before
Him, you will be surprised at some of the things that come to your
attention: "You need to spend more time with your daughter," "Take your
wife out on a date," "Bake your neighbor a pie and build a bridge over
which the gospel can travel," "Spend more time praising Me," "Show your
gratitude and appreciation for those who
have been helping you in your
You will indeed hear from God if you ask Him to speak into your heart,
and wait silently before Him.
That is the last element of effective prayer: praise, repent,
Your prayers can indeed be effective if you
commit to these four principles.
That is how to