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Elements of Successful Prayer

"First of all,   then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, in order that we might lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.   This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth."   I Timothy 2:1-4

Successful prayer is made up of many different elements, all of which are necessary to produce the appropriate attitude, spirit, and effectiveness of our petitions to God.   While the following list is incomplete, it lists most of the fundamental elements of successful prayer presented by God in the Bible.

HUMILITY - (Luke 18:9-14) If we approach God with an arrogant self-righteousness, God will be displeased with us from the start.   He desires that we be introspective, reverent in attitude, and aware of our sinful condition.   If we humble ourselves before God, He will exalt us.

PRIVACY - (Matthew 6:1-6) Prayer is a very personal thing between God and the Christian.   When we pray to be seen by others, we automatically have an improper motive for prayer.   This does not preclude us from offering prayer in public places, but rather addresses our attitude which must be one of humility and reverence toward God and the sanctity of communication with Him.

RIGHTEOUSNESS - (James 5:16-18) Our righteousness can have a direct bearing on the success of our prayers.   We cannot live lives that are in violation of God's law and expect Him to answer our prayers.   As parent with a child, we expect the child to submit to our instructions and rules and, in return, we will be more willing to show mercy, kindness, and generosity.   God operates in much the same way, but is omnipotent and just far beyond our imagination.

THANKFULNESS - (Phil 4:6) Thankfulness should be present in every possible prayer, certainly in attitude if not in words.   Our whole attitude toward God should focus on being grateful for all He has given us and continues to give whether we deserve it or have earned it.   Gratefulness is a gracious entry into the presence of God as well as a glorious exit from His presence.

PRAISE - (Hebrews 13:15) We must have an attitude of gratefulness and praise for God at all times, both in attitude and deed.   God desires that we should praise Him in worship, in prayer, and in our daily lives by our actions and deeds.   Our praise is an outward manifestation of our love, awe, and dependence on God.

FAITH - (James 1:5-8) If we do not have faith that God can grant our requests, what is the reason for praying to Him?   Here we are told directly that God will not answer our prayers if we do not have faith He CAN answer our prayers.   An all-powerful God either has the ability to grant our requests or He is not all-powerful.   It can not be both ways.   Since God IS all-powerful, He expects us to believe in His capabilities, have faith that He will always have our best interest in mind, and that He will always be there to protect us.

PERSISTENCE - (Luke 18:1-8) Jesus makes it clear in these verses that a persistent and heart-felt plea to God is appropriate.   We should not limit our requests if they are truly needed.   After all, do we not need food, rest, forgiveness of sins, etc., on a continuing basis?   If we are in need, we are allowed to ask again, and again, and again.

ACCEPTANCE OF GOD'S WILL - (II Cor 12:7-10) Although we may ask for something repeatedly, sometimes God will not always grant our request because He knows we do not need it or we need to grow spiritually.   We must be willing to recognize that sometimes, God's answer is "No" or "Not at this time or in this way."   When that answer comes, we must accept it gracefully and have faith He knows what is in our best interest.

HONOR & COMPASSION FOR OTHERS - (I Peter 3:7) This text plainly states that an attitude of arrogance or failure to respect others as equals in God's sight will hinder our prayers.   In others words, "one ought not to think more highly of himself than is proper" as is expressed in Romans 12:3-8.   We all have different talents, roles, functions, gifts, and blessings.   Just because we have more gifts, blessings, etc. than another, does not make us better than them or they less deserving of honor from us.   ALL are equal in God's sight, whether male or female, white or black, rich or poor, slave or free (Galatians 3:26-29).

HEART-FELT CONVERSATION - (Matthew 6:7-8) God is not interested in how many 50 cent words we can use or how many eloquent phrases we have memorized.   He wants us to say exactly what we need in simple language and without using words that mean nothing to us.   The Holy Spirit will translate our words into language far more moving and acceptable than we could ever utter (Romans 8:26).

CONFESSION - (I John 1:7-10)   If we are truly humble and repentant and we desire God's forgiveness, we will confess our sins and ask for His forgiveness and strength to live a life more acceptable to Him.   In return God says He will be faithful to forgive us of those sins.

GOD'S ASSISTANCE TO OTHERS - (I Timothy 2:1-4) We are to always have the well-being of others in mind.   It not only helps them, it makes life easier for us and allows us to have an impact on the world around us.   In this verse we are told specifically to pray for all leaders and governments that all men might live in peace and concentrate on serving God.   This is the only way we will ever come close to achieving true "Peace on Earth" that we sing about and long for.

PROPER MOTIVES - (James 4:1-3)   Sometimes we do not receive what we are praying for because we are asking for the wrong reasons.   God is not a giant "Santa Claus" who showers us with every imaginable wish or desire.   He searches our hearts and looks at our motives for asking His blessing.   Many times we do not receive the answer to prayer we want because we are selfish.

Prayer is how we communicate with God.   It is our direct line to Him.   There is no requirement for another man or woman to relay our wishes and needs to Him.   When we pray, He hears us, from the smallest child to the largest man, no matter where we are.   We ought to and are commanded to pray continually (Hebrews 13:15).   This nation in particular desperately needs our prayers.

Dwight Eppler