How to Pray a Great Prayer
Many of us get stuck when it comes to prayer and when it comes to asking God for things because they’re not sure what to say. They’re not sure what the right and acceptable things to say are. Often when people pray, it doesn’t take long to just get to God, will you do this, and will you do this? And will you do this? And that’s the full extent of the prayer.
Any relationship that’s just about asking for things isn’t a high-quality relationship, is it? When we come to God with our needs, we have to think about how we are going to talk to God because it isn’t a particularly healthy relationship if all we do is ever just say, “God, give me. God, give me. That is not a personal relationship. That is not a healthy relationship.
When we come to God, we must come with a more mature view that we grow in over time. I want to look at a passage of Scripture from the book of Ephesians, where Paul is speaking to a small community of people in a place called Ephesus.
The heading of this passage in Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians says, ‘Prayer for the readers.’ Paul is praying this prayer for everybody. In chapter 3, verse 14, it says:
For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name.
The three ingredients we see in this prayer are God, who Paul is praying for, and himself. Then what Paul begins to talk about is the greatness and the wonder of God. Because of who God is and the magnificence of God, the only way that those things will be achieved in their life is if God does the work. In other words, Paul comes along and says, I am going to pray to the father for you because it is God who will do it. When I was younger, there was part of me that thought I can convince God to hear my prayer by the things that I said or the fact that I said the right things. And it is true that we need to pray maturely, but it’s God who does it.
For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit,
When I was younger, I used to think if I’m a good boy, God will answer my prayers as if it was dependent upon me. Paul doesn’t say that. Paul says the answer to your prayer is dependent upon God and is not dependent upon you or who you are.
God grants things to us because He loves us because He is our father. Whether God blesses us, or God works in us is not dependent on your prayer and it is not dependent on the person or the quality of the person you are in terms of your lifestyle and how you’re living. God does because God is. Paul comes along and says, ‘It is all about God.’ He says:
I pray that, according to the riches of his glory,
God’s riches are indescribable, unlimited.
he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit,
Paul is saying it is the spirit of God, the Holy Spirit that will do these things in you.
and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love.
Paul is saying it is all about God. When we come to God to ask Him to bless us and to work in our lives, it’s not about your prayer and it is not about you. It’s not about the person being prayed for. It’s about God himself and so these three ingredients of God, the person praying, and the person being prayed for are all there, but what’s the most important? The most important is the fact that it is God and God’s love and the fact that God wants to root and ground every one of us in His love in His life, in who He is. Our prayers matter, but God matters more than even our prayer.
And so, it goes on and it says, verse 18:
I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.
Paul says, I pray that you would be filled according to what God has done, who God is, the identity, the character, and the nature of God. I pray that you would know that the length, the breadth, the height, the depth of God’s love, because God is central to everything about our life.
It is God who is calling us to Him. It is about God who is calling us into His life.
Paul writes a prayer that says out of the three participants in this prayer, God, me and the person I’m praying for, the most essential part is God.
I occasionally get to talk to people around the world and I have got into the habit of saying to people at the end, can I pray for you and many people say to me before I pray that no one’s ever said a prayer for me. The thing that I’ve learned about praying for people who are in need, people who are ill, people who have financial situations, they’re struggling with people who have relational difficulties, people who you just want well for you, just want God to bless, and for life to be good. The thing that I’ve learned is, it’s never about me.
The actual secret of great prayer is to get out of the way of the prayer and not make yourself the focus of it is because when you are praying for someone, what you are trying to do is fade into the background, because you want them to have this encounter with the presence of God.
When I have prayed for people, if this makes sense, I have tried to pray the very best prayer that I know how to pray. And that is a prayer that this person being prayed for would come to know and experience the love and the power and the affection and the greatness of God because at the end of the day, it’s all about God.
Here are a few things to remember about prayer:
- God is looking at your heart. If you are a mom or a dad, God sees your love for your grandchildren, your children. If you’re a friend of someone that you deeply love, God sees your heart. If you’re a spouse, God sees your heart. God sees the intention because sometimes I don’t know what to pray for people when they’re going through hard things. It is the hard things we suffer that can help us grow and surrender more to God.
- Always engage in the praise and the worship of God. When we praise and worship God, we make God bigger because we acknowledge God for who He is. We acknowledge the identity of God, the vastness of God, the magnificence of God. How do we do that? By declaring back to God, in our words, the best we can, who God is, that He’s loving and faithful, that He is the creator, that He is the first and the last. When we come before God and we give God thanks for who He is, the fact that He would even think of us, we make God bigger and greater because it is God that we give this person’s life to because God is the one who is the author, the giver and the taker of life and the sustainer of life for all. So, to praise and worship God is to simply come before God and say, God, this is who you are and as we acknowledge the greatness of God, we are changed.
- Look at what God has done. When I look at what God has done, my faith is built. When I look back now over the long journey of my life, of the hardships and the joys, of the challenges and defeats, and the successes and the wonders of what has happened, I can see where God was. I can see where God intervened. I can see where God provided. I can see where God helped me. I can see when I made mistakes and God lifted me up and protected me. The declaration of what God has done builds our faith to say, I trust my son, my daughter, my husband, my wife, my friend, this circumstance into your hand, because look at who you are, look at what you have done.
- Pray specifically and deliberately to place a request before God. Come before God and say, this is what I see, this is what I know. This is what needs to be done. Would you come? And God hears the specifics of our prayer.
- Make a statement of trust. Put your request before God, and then say, ‘God in you we trust. You’re in charge.’ A statement of trust ultimately comes with a sense of peace within us that I’m trusting the God who created everything, the God who is over all things, the God who was with us.
- Praise God. Thank God for what He has done. As you pray for people that you love as these circumstances come within your life to remember to come before God and to declare to God who he is just as it was at the party.
I want to encourage you today to pray with earnestness and to pray deliberately and my prayer is that God will hear your prayer right now.
It says in John 3:16:
‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
God so loved the world that he gave His only son and, you know, God so loves us. We are living at a time in history where so many people don’t know the love of God and don’t know that they are specifically loved by God. And God’s love was so great that He sent his son to die for us to make sure that we had access. If someone said to me, what this ministry is about? I would say that is the mission of this ministry; to tell people that they are loved by God and God is there for them.
We human parents love our children, don’t we and we do things to support them, love them, and surprise them at times when we can but God, our Father, wants to give so much more.