I was recently preparing a sermon about taking an end of the year inventory of our lives. I focused on sin and its consequences. While in preparation I was examining my own life and priorities. Our lives never seem to hold up to the rigorous scrutiny of the Word of God. It is a constant reminder of my need for a God who is greater than me.
Effective prayer is an area that needs improvement in my spiritual life. Coming from a Pentecostal background, I often considered prayer effective when my emotions had been fully engaged and there was an orgasmic release of sorts that confirmed I had touched God. Effectual and fervent were two married words that produced a child flooded with emotions. (James 5:6 KJV) The closer one gets to God the louder one prays.
The Word of God is the handbook for prayer and in its pages are the directions we need on how to pray effectively. As one called to teach and preach it is important for me to adhere to the admonition Paul gave to the young preacher Timothy to rightly handle the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15 ESV) Studying examples of how others prayed in the New Testament opens doors for application in our lives. One particular passage gave me some clear direction on how to pray. It was Colossians 1:9-14.
Paul told the believers in Colossae that he had not ceased to pray for them. Prayer was an ongoing spiritual task on behalf of those that he had a vested interest in. He had made a commitment to pray. I find it interesting what he chose to pray about. He prayed for them to be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding. I recently had the privilege of praying with a brother and his wife who was seeking God’s will and needed wisdom and understanding. As has been often said, what we learn determines how we act. When we know God’s will we will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord. We will bear fruit that produces into eternity.
Praying effectively is a combination of many factors. It requires a pure heart and godly motivation among others. But it also requires knowledge of God’s Word. This is what is strengthening me and guiding me to be more effective in my praying. Taking inventory is a good thing. Wanting to be more Christlike is also a good thing. Knowing you need to change is a good thing. Changing is effective.