Prayer, Plain and Simple

You faithfully answer our prayers with awesome deeds, O God our Savior. (Psalm 65:5)

The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. (James 5:16)


What is the big deal about prayer? Prayer isn’t wishful thinking. It’s not merely a state of mind. Prayer is certainly no waste of time. Quite literally, prayer is the most productive thing we can do when we employ the practices laid out in Scripture.

Let’s look at a few practical steps to effective prayer.

Who is God, and what’s He like?

Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him. (Hebrew 11:6)

When we come to our God in prayer, we first must have an understanding of His nature. If we view Him as an ogre, we certainly won’t want to draw very close. If we accept the portrait of God that Jesus painted for us, we will embrace Him as the loving Father we all yearn for. We can come close to His Spirit through prayer, and we can feel in nearly tangible ways His heartbeat, the sweetness of His breath, and the warmth of His arms holding us.

We stay in that place of loving embrace until we experience peace that only He can afford to give us. It surpasses anything the world has to offer, all substances, all things, all other relationships, all other passions, all other joys.

How Are “We”?

Search me, O God, and know my heart. Test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there be any wicked way in me. (Psalm 139:23,24)

As we sit in His presence, sometimes (quite often) we sense that something isn’t right in our spirits, a dissonance coming from somewhere, and we simply ask Him, “How are we doing, Father? Is there anything I need to know?”

If the Holy Spirit brings something to mind – perhaps you gave way to gossip earlier that day, or your thoughts were negative toward someone (or yourself), you snapped at a loved one, or old offenses came back to haunt you – you simply make it right with Him. “I’m sorry, Father. I blew it again. Please forgive me, and put me back on Your path of love.” Then move on with the promise that when we confess our sins, He faithfully forgives and washes us clean again.

Walk Right In, Sit Right Down

So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. (Hebrew 4:16)

Once we have tidied up our hearts and consciences, we can walk right in like we belong, because we do! No reason to hesitate, to stammer, to be coy. We have now been given access to the throne room of Heaven, for Jesus has taken care of our guilt and shame, and we are the kids who belong to the King! We make ourselves at home in His glorious space.

Begin With Thanks

Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. (Psalm 100:4)

A thankful heart is the key to entering into intimacy with Christ. Gratitude is massively powerful in God’s world. Conversely, as the Israelites taught us in the wilderness, whining and complaining will get us no where.

Thank God for the big blessings.

Thank Him for the small.

Thank Him that He is working even when you don’t see any evidence, for faith is the substance that pleases God. It is a gift we give Him, a sacrifice of thanks, and it opens doorways to wonderful ends.

The Big Ask

You do not have because you do not ask God. (James 4:2)

Don’t forget to ask! Sometimes we ask others to pray for us, and we neglect to pray ourselves!

Before our first child was born we had asked plenty of others to pray for us because we wanted a child, but hadn’t conceived. We later discovered that God had been waiting for us to ask for ourselves, and almost exactly nine months after we did,  we were pregnant. We weren’t ready to receive a child until we were ready to ask Him for one.

Ask God for stuff, knowing as a good Father He is happy to meet all your needs! Need new friends? Just ask! (I felt a need for a friend refresh, so I asked last Wednesday, and got one that evening!) Need bills paid, a house, a miracle of any size or shape? Ask!

Come to Him with lists. He doesn’t mind! He’s just waiting for you to ask Him. But He’s mostly desiring relationship with us and partnership to bring about His Kingdom, so keep your requests centered on Kingdom advancement – that includes financial provision, vehicles, homes for hospitality (a high value in His world). Ask Him for whatever you need.

Resist the religious ritual of always tacking on the, “If it be Your will” caveat at the end of your prayer. That’s like saying, “If You’re good.” Rubbish. There’s no if’s, and’s, or but’s about His character. The only time we attach the “if it be Your will” clause is if we truly don’t know His will. Should I move to Tucson? That’s not specifically laid out in Scripture. Should I marry Harry? That’s not exactly spelled out in the Bible. But other principles are, and upon those we can confidently attach our faith. For example, we can assess, is Harry born again? If not, marrying him is not advisable from a Scriptural standpoint.

Praise Your Guts Out

With every bone in my body I will praise him: Lord, who can compare with you? (Psalm 35:10)

Punctuate your time with our Father with praise and thanks. Crank up Hillsongs or Bethel Music, and sing to your heart’s content. Sing of His power and His love. When we magnify the Lord, everything else comes into proper perspective. Other things that we make a big deal of, suddenly take their proper place in the light and magnitude of His power and love.

Implement these steps and know down deep that your prayers aren’t hitting the ceiling and bouncing back. Your prayers break every glass ceiling in the universe and take You to a place of growth and transformation that You never dreamed of.

Ready for the challenge? Ready for the adventure? Let’s pray! You’re on your own today! You know what to do… Have fun!

Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. (Matthew 7:7)

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