Updated: Jan 29, 2018
By Christina Calvache
“Pray for me”, we hear it and say it all the time. Whether in small talk or on Facebook, the request is always out there. With every situation, every need, every conflict, we hope prayer will change things for the better. When I first became a Christian, I thought there was a certain way to pray. In Matthew 6:9-13, Jesus taught us to pray the Lord’s Prayer. I wondered if there was a method or particular words that would sway God. I was determined to find the key.
The Word (Bible) makes it clear that “the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:15 NKJV). Ok, so what does that mean? Another translation states “the prayer from the heart of a man right with God has much power” (NLV). If we are right with God, why are our prayers so powerless at times? Dare I say, not even answered at times?
The deeper I went in the Word, the more confused I became. I read in Matthew 7:7 “Ask and it will be given to you”, or in John 14:14 (NKJV), “If you ask anything in my name, I will do it”. These scriptures are the words of Jesus himself! So why were my prayers unanswered? Why were my prayers unanswered even though I prayed “in the name of Jesus”?
I went back to the beginning, asking myself, “What is it that makes a man righteous? How can I have a heart that is right with God?” I felt baffled. I was born again but my prayers were hindered. I wanted to get God’s ears open to my prayers (1 Peter 3:12).
I came across some interesting scripture which brought clarity. 1 Corinthians 11:28 says to examine yourself. I also found in Lamentations 3:40, it says to “Examine and probe our ways, and Let us return to the Lord.” I learned early on that as Christians we need to continually examine our hearts and our ways to maintain a heart that is right with God.
When we pray, we need to be careful that we are not harboring sin in our hearts, and we are not walking in disobedience. We must make humble and faithful requests to our God. Hindrances to prayer include:
If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear. (Psalm 66:18)
One who turns his ear away from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.
You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. (James 4:3)
But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt (James 1:6)
How powerful can prayer possibly be? There are no limits in prayer. Hezekiah’s life was extended! We read about him in 2 Kings 20. He was sick and dying. He was told by the prophet Isaiah that the Lord said he would not live. Hezekiah prayed to the Lord and reminded the Lord that he walked with him in truth and with a loyal heart, doing what was good in the sight of the Lord. And he wept bitterly. And do you know what the Lord did? He said, “I have heard your prayer and have seen your tears, surely I will heal you” ....and Hezekiah lived 15 more years! Prayer can be so very powerful.
Having a heart right with God is a choice we must make and maintain every moment of our lives. I encourage you to read 1 Peter 1: 13-21. This part of the book is titled “Living before God Our Father”. As you strive to be holy as He is Holy ( 1 Peter 1:16), I guarantee your prayers will be more effective and powerful.