Certain principles apply to all forms of prayer. In this section we will consider some general principles that are to be applied in our fellowship and partnership with God.
- Prayer should generally be directed to the Father.
Fellowship with Jesus and the Holy Spirit are a part of prayer, but essentially our requests and petitions are to be presented to the Father Himself. “In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven” (Matthew 6:9)
- Prayer should be in the name of Jesus.
We come not with our own authority, nor do we rely upon our own power or holiness, but upon the covenant name we have been given, the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. We do not pray to Jesus, we pray through Jesus, using the weight and authority of His inimitable name!
““And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you; for the Father Himself loves you…” (John 16:23-24,26-27 NKJV)
- Prayer should be ‘in the Spirit’
“praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—” (Ephesians 6:18 NKJV)
Although the scriptures refer specifically to praying in tongues as praying ‘in the spirit’, more generally it refers to all prayer. God is a Spirit (John 4:24) and must be addressed as such. All truly effective prayer proceeds from the heart (the spirit) of man, not the head. Intelligence is involved, but a purely ‘mental’ prayer will not affect the spiritual world at all. Our mind may conceive the request we desire to make to our Father, but when expressed it must come from our spirit, not just our head. In this way all prayer is ‘in the spirit’ because all prayer is essentially spiritual.
Mary Alice Isleib says:
“Praying in the spirit doesn’t mean to pray just in tongues. What does is mean, then? It means to pray out of your spirit, aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit. It means to pray all prayer – all the different kinds of prayer – in the presence of the Holy Spirit, in the realm of the spirit, out of your inner man.”
- All prayer should be prayers of faith
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6 NKJV)
The Bible speaks of a specific kind of prayer which most often is called the ‘prayer of faith’, but all prayer should have this essential ingredient in its exercise. Without faith we cannot please God. Every form of prayer should be from a heart fully trusting the One to whom the prayer is addressed, eagerly expecting the desired result as promised in the Word. A prayer of consecration for example, although practised because specific details of God’s will may still be unknown, should nevertheless be employed, fully trusting that what is committed to the Father will indeed be placed in His hand, and that He will personally take up responsibility for that which is committed to Him.
“…Still I am not ashamed, for I know (perceive, have knowledge of, and am acquainted with) Him Whom I have believed (adhered to and trusted in and relied on), and I am [positively] persuaded that He is able to guard and keep that which has been entrusted to me and which I have committed [to Him] until that day.” (2 Timothy 1:12)
- All prayer should have the will, Word and promise of God as its basis
“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 NKJV)The foundation of faith is found in the knowledge of God’s will. His Word is His will. When our prayers are based on the revealed Word of God we have great confidence to pursue our goal without doubt or fear. Our boldness before Him resides not in prideful presumption, but humble acceptance of His will, and an aggressive dedication to accept nothing other than what has been granted through Jesus Christ. The Word alone is the foundation for such boldness and confidence.
- With simplicity and sincerity
““And when you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat? “Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.
“The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply…”” (Matthew 6:5-9 MESSAGE)Effective prayer is born out of relationship and revelation of the character of God. We can be certain, if we ask with pure motives and in accordance with His will, He is eager to answer and grant our request.
“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”” (Luke 11:13 NKJV)
““Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32 NKJV)
- With thanksgiving
“Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving;”
(Col 4:2 NKJV)
Faith and thanksgiving go hand in hand. A thankful heart is a heart certain that its requests have been heard and that their gracious Father is active to bring it to pass. If we know something has been granted, we will automatically give thanks. Doubt and fear keep us in a place where we are unthankful, believing that our Father is withholding from us. In reality, although there may be hindrances to the manifestation of your answer, they are not found with God. In fact, your thanksgiving without seeing the answer may be the avenue God will use to bring the desired object into your possession. Thanksgiving is another tool in the belt waiting to be used to powerfully affect God’s will in your life and the lives of those you pray for.