Are You Praying Effectively?

Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit (James 5:17-18).
We learn about Elijah’s prayer in two places in the Bible: 1 Kings 18 and James 5:17-18, where God gives us further light on the story. Putting these two scriptures together, I have made seven observations. All of them begin with the letter “P.” I’ve put these into a sentence that I hope might be useful to you: Position yourself in private to pray what God has promised with precision, passion and persistence.

Seven P’s of Effective Prayer
1. Private

Elijah went up to the top of Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18:42).
Think about what had happened: Elijah had called down fire from heaven. The people were shouting “The Lord, He is God.” Elijah was the man of the moment. The crowd would have cheered him like a sports celebrity, if he had stayed with them. But Elijah pulls away from the crowd, and goes to the top of Mount Carmel to pray.

You find the same pattern in the ministry of Jesus. He has just performed a great miracle, healing the mother-in-law of Simon Peter. The whole town hears about it, and crowds gather. They brought all the sick and all the oppressed to Him. Mark says the whole city was at the door (Mark 1:33). Jesus healed many. But early the next morning, we read that Jesus departed and went to a lonely place where He prayed (1:35). Christ withdraws from the crowd and gives Himself to prayer. That is what Elijah did, too.

Praying with other people is important, but there is a kind of praying that you can only do on your own. Lovers like to be alone together, and God who is the great lover of your soul wants time alone with you. Jesus said, “When you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret” (Matt. 6:6). Do you do this?

A.W. Pink points out: “shutting the door” means more than being alone, “it also signifies the calming of our spirit, the quieting of our feverish flesh, the gathering of all our wandering thoughts, that we may be in a fit frame to draw near and address the Holy One.” [1]

This is important for all Christians and especially for Christian leaders. The public work of proclamation must be followed by the private work of intercession.

2. Position

[Elijah] bowed himself down to the earth and put his face between his knees (1 Kings 18:42).
God always speaks with intent and with precision, and the Holy Spirit has preserved this vivid description of Elijah’s posture when he prayed. Picture him kneeling, with his head all the way down to the ground. The mighty prophet looks like a little ball before the Lord.

Again, this makes me think about our Lord Jesus. We are told that in the Garden of Gethsemane, “He fell on his face and prayed” (Matt. 26:39). Most likely, He draped Himself over a large stone.

Different postures are appropriate for different situations in prayer. You can pray while you walk, and you can pray while you are driving, though it is good to keep your eyes open if you do! The Bible does not mandate a position for prayer, but it often records the posture people adopted in prayer, which must mean that this has some significance.

Elijah’s body language is significant: It speaks of his total dependence on God and his intense seriousness before God. People had been dying in the drought. It had gone on for three and a half years. This prayer matters. Elijah kneels on the ground and puts his face between his knees.

In the church I served in London, it was the pattern for our leaders to gather on Sunday mornings, and for the best part of an hour we would kneel and pray for God’s blessing on the ministry and on the congregation. It’s become a pattern for our church board here to end its meetings with all the board members on their knees, seeking the blessing of God.

I find that if I am to engage in prayer seriously, I need to make some time to get down on my knees and pour out my heart to God. It’s like saying “Lord, here I am again. I’m serious. I feel the weight of who you are. I feel the weight of what I bring to you.”

3. Promised

The word of the Lord came to Elijah, in the third year, saying… “I will send rain upon the earth” (1 Kings 18:1).
When Elijah prayed for rain, he prayed with confidence because he was asking for something that God had already promised. Faith is a believing response to the word of God. The prayer that flows from faith has the same character.

God has given you an open invitation to ask anything of Him. But the freedom to ask anything does not come with a commitment from God to give all that we ask. Prayer is never a means of manipulating God into something He did not plan to do. That would be the worst kind of idolatry.

It is a great mistake to imagine that if we can muster enough faith, we can somehow strong-arm God into getting what we ask. Many of us will know someone who was told at one time that, if only they had more faith, they would be healed. To say that is cruelty of the worst sort, adding insult to injury for a person who suffers.

Elijah prayed for what God had said He would do, so cultivate the practice of praying what God has promised. Here’s how you can do that: Use the Bible as fuel for your prayers. Pray with an open Bible, and as you read the Bible, turn what God says to you back to Him in prayer.

Recently, I was reading Daniel 12:3: “Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” God wants His people to be wise, and turning a person to righteousness is a work with never-ending value. There’s fuel in that to pray for people in different situations today. Tomorrow there will be something fresh in the scripture that will provide fuel for your prayers. Engines run better when there is fuel in the tank.

Put some fuel in the tank before you start the engine of prayer.

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Source: Church Leaders