April 3, 2006 • By Ed Wrather
Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him. - 1 John 5:14-15.
Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. - Romans 8:26-27.
So Jesus answered and said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done. And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive." - Matthew 21:21-22.
And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. - Matthew 14:13-14.
There has been another study conducted as to the effectiveness of prayer in healing.
The headline of this study is: "Study fails to show healing power of prayer." We do not know all of the details of the study but we do know some of them. It was a study consisting of 1,800 heart bypass surgery patients. People were organized to pray for these patients. These prayers were said by two Catholic groups and one Protestant group. These groups were given written prayers and the first name and initial of the patients they were to pray for. Conclusions from the study were stated as follows, "Intercessory prayer itself had no effect on whether complications occurred (and) patients who were certain that intercessors would pray for them had a higher rate of complications than patients who were uncertain but did receive intercessory prayer."
The spiritual fact of the matter is that some people are more effective in prayer than others are. Even the disciples of Jesus after being with Him for some time asked that He would teach them how to pray. We do not know what the written prayer was that was said for each of the patients in this recent study of the effectiveness of prayer. We do not know anything about the spiritual condition of the people who were doing the actual praying. Prayer is a vital aspect of our faith and attempts to measure the effectiveness of prayer or non-effectiveness of prayer by secular, non-Christian methods are doomed to failure.
What are some factors necessary for effective prayer?
Factor # 1: "according to His will." - The prayer will be answered according to God’s will. If we want to have an effective prayer we should try to pray in accordance with what we believe God’s will to be. We should have so much confidence in this that we believe what Romans 8:26-27 says and that the Spirit actually translates our prayers into the prayers that should be said according to God’s will.
Factor # 2: Matthew 21:22, "believing" - Whoever is praying must "believe.” Believe what? First of all, they must believe that there is a God and then they must believe that God will answer their prayer in accordance with His will. It is a matter of the heart, a matter of faith (Hebrews 11:6; Romans 4:20-21).
Factor # 3 - The Name of Jesus, "My Name" - There is more to this than just ending a prayer by saying you are asking in the Name of Jesus. Who is it that would be praying in "My Name?" Jesus was speaking to His followers, believers in Him. Yes, we should pray in His Name but such a prayer would be meaningless unless we were truly His followers, believers in Him.
It is easy to be discouraged in prayer. I hope that no matter what some study may say that you will continue to talk to God. Because, He wants to talk to you. Don’t worry about whether you are praying the right way or the wrong way. The most important way is simply to pray. Jesus says you ought to always pray and the apostle Paul writes that you should pray continuously, pray without ceasing. Please continue to pray!!