Principles of Effective Prayer
Lesson 15

Speaking through the prophets, it was said of Jesus, “The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.” Isaiah 50:4. Christ was continually receiving that He might minister to others. From hours spent in prayer He came forth to bring the light of heavenly truth to men. Much impressed by His prayers and by His habit of communion with God, one day as He ended His prayer, His disciples exclaimed, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Luke 11:1

In response, Jesus repeated the Lord’s Prayer, much as He had given it in the sermon on the mount as recorded in Matthew 6. Then in parables He illustrated the lesson He desired to teach them. See Luke 11:5–8. These illustrations bring to view principles that we need to understand.

In the first parable, a householder receives unexpected guests. In order to be able to extend his hospitality to them, he must have more food and, though the hour is late, in an attempt to satisfy the need, he knocks on his friend’s door.

1. What finally persuaded the friend to get up and give him the bread?

Luke 11:8
Luke 11:8

Note: Our prayers are not to be only for our own benefit and welfare. We are not in this world merely to please ourselves but that we may glorify God in cooperating with Him in the salvation of others. In the parable, the man was not asking anything for his selfish benefit, but that he might have that with which to satisfy another’s needs.

2. What is the basic condition to answered prayer?

Mark 11:24
Mark 11:24

Note: See also Hebrews 11:6. Prayer is the key, that in the hand of faith, opens to us the unlimited resources of heaven. God is willing to reveal Himself to us in a remarkable manner. The reason we do not see greater evidence of His power is that we lack faith. By looking at appearances and complaining when difficulties and pressure come, we give evidence of a weak and feeble faith. In talking in a hopeless and discouraged way, we lose much.

3. What is the Lord’s promise to those coming to Him in prayer?

Psalm 102:17
Psalm 102:17

4. If our prayers do not receive an immediate answer, what should our attitude be?

James 1:5–8
James 1:5–8

Note: Here is where many make a mistake. When the answer does not come immediately, they waver in their purpose, and their faith fails. This is the reason they receive nothing from the Lord. Many times a delay in answering prayer is the Lord’s way of testing the genuineness of our faith—do we fully trust him regardless of appearances? In the parable, the petitioner was initially repulsed but he did not falter in his determination.

5. How do we show our love for Christ?

John 14:15
John 14:15

Note: Prayer can never take the place of duty. Those who bring their requests to God, claiming His promise when they do not comply with the conditions, insult Him. They bring the name of Christ as their authority for the fulfillment of the promise, but they do not do those things that show that they love Him. “If we are disobedient, we bring to the Lord a note to be cashed when we have not fulfilled the conditions that make it payable to us. We present to God His promises and ask Him to fulfill them, when by doing so He would dishonor His own name.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 144

6. What is said of the prayer of a righteous man?

James 5:16
James 5:16

Note: If we do His will, if we walk in the truth, then we may ask what we will and it shall be done for us. While we earnestly endeavor to be obedient, God will hear our petitions; but He will not bless us in disobedience.

7. What can prevent God from hearing our prayers?

Psalm 66:18
Psalm 66:18

8. What is the key to answered prayer?

John 15:7
John 15:7

Note: John makes it very clear how we make it evident we are abiding in Christ. “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.” 1 John 2:3, 5

9. What can make even our prayers an abomination to God?

Proverbs 28:9
Proverbs 28:9

Note: Those who receive answers to their prayers are those who walk in the light of God’s commandments. If we do His will, if we walk in truth, then we may ask what we will, and it shall be done for us. How strange it would be for us to ask Him to regard our wishes and desires when we disregard His.

There is also another area that is often neglected by those who seek the Lord in prayer. Have you been honest with God?

10. How does God view a failure to be faithful in tithes and offerings?

Malachi 3:7-8
Malachi 3:7-8

Note: As the giver of every blessing, God claims a certain portion of all that we have. By making this return, we show our appreciation of His gifts. However, if we withhold from Him that which is His own, how can we claim His blessing? It may be that here is the secret to unanswered prayer.

11. Do we always know what to pray for?

Romans 8:26
Romans 8:26

12. To whom did Jesus teach us to present our requests?

Matthew 6:9
Matthew 6:9

13. In whose name and by whose authority are we to pray?

John 15:16
John 15:16

14. Why is this so?

1 Timothy 2:5
1 Timothy 2:5

15. Upon what conditions does God hear our prayers for forgiveness?

Mark 11:25-26
Mark 11:25-26

16. What is another condition to answered prayer?

1 John 5:14
1 John 5:14

Note: We must ask according to God’s will. “We may be tested and proved, for God sees it best to put us under a course of discipline which is essential for us before we are fit subjects for the blessing we crave. We should not become discouraged and give way to doubt, and think that our prayers are not noticed. We should rely more securely upon Christ and leave our case with God to answer our prayers in His own way. God has not promised to bestow His blessings through the channels we have marked out. God is too wise to err and too regardful of our good to allow us to choose for ourselves.” The Upward Look, 109

17. What evidence has God given us that He will answer our prayers?

Romans 8:32
Romans 8:32

Note: God’s estimate of the value of the human soul can best be seen in the value of the sacrifice made at Calvary. Having given us such a demonstration of His interest in our salvation, we may be confident in His willingness to attend to our lesser needs. See Matthew 6:26–33; Psalm 34:10; 37:4.

18. What does Christ become to those who come to Him for help?

1 John 2:1
1 John 2:1

Note: In His intercession as our Advocate, Christ stands as our Representative. He came to this world as Man’s Substitute and Surety, and He is fully able to save all who repent and return to their allegiance. Christ is the Only Sin Bearer, the only Sin-offering. Prayer and confession are effective only when offered through Him.

When we approach our heavenly Father, feeling our need, and in confidence open our hearts to Him,
we are assured He will hear and answer us. When Jesus was upon the earth, He taught His disciples how to pray. He directed them to present their daily needs before God, and to cast all their care upon Him. And the assurance He gave them that their petitions would be heard, is assurance to us as well.

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