By Bayo Ogunmupe
NORMAL men and women live to make impact in the world. They live to achieve goals so as to realize their human potential as beings on the earth’s plane. There are two ways to achieve these goals. The first is to work to realize goals, making a living therefrom. The other is to pray in order to accomplish your set objectives.
Working is inevitable in life. Even if you want to settle for a vegetative existence, you still need to work. But in order to realize laudable goals, to succeed in your careers, you need prayer. A politician needs to become governor or president in order to reach the apex of his career, the same way a physician needs his own hospital, becoming its chief medical director to feel fulfilled as a successful doctor. To aid you to realize your full human potential is the reason I offer to inform you on how to pray the prayers that God answers.
The belief in one God started among the Jews about 1513 BC. They named that God in Hebrew: Yahweh or Jehovah. They usually use Moses to beg Him in prayer. The English our colonial masters, call Jehovah, God or the Almighty. The Arabs call God, Allah and they use the cities Makkah and Medina, the hills Saffah and Marwa and the great mosque the Kaabah to beg Allah in worship. In the same vein, Christians use the name of Jesus the Christ to beg God so that Jehovah can hasten the acceptance of their prayers.
But why is constant, persistent, sleepless, overcoming prayer so needful? One, there is a devil. He is cunning, he is mighty, he never rests, he is ever plotting the downfall of the children of God. And if the child of God relaxes in prayer, the devil may succeed in ensnaring him. Two, prayer is Jehovah’s appointed way for obtaining things and the secret of all lack, in our experience, in our life and work, is neglect of prayer. This is brought forcibly out in the Bible book of James Chapter 4, Verse 2: “Ye have not because ye ask not.” This is the secret of the poverty and powerlessness of the average Nigerian-neglect of prayer. Three, those men whom God set forth as pattern of what He expected people to be – the apostles – regarded prayer as the most important business of their lives. All the mighty men of God outside the Bible have been men of prayer. They have differed from one another in many things, but in prayer they have been alike.
Four, prayer occupied a very prominent role and played a very important part in the earthly life of Jesus the Christ. Turn, for example to Mark 1: 35. “And in the morning rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.” The preceding day had been a very busy and exciting one, but Jesus shortened the hours of needed sleep that he might arise early and give Himself to more sorely needed prayer.
Five, praying is the most important part of the present ministry of the risen Jesus. Christ’s ministry did not close with his death. His atoning work was finished then but when he rose, he entered upon other work for us his congregation. Six, prayer is the means God has appointed for our receiving mercy and obtaining grace in the time of need. Seven, prayer in the name of Jesus is the way Jesus Christ himself has approved for his disciples to obtain fullness of joy. Eight, prayer with thanksgiving is the means that God has appointed for our obtaining freedom from all anxiety, the peace of God which passes all understanding.
Nine, prayer accomplishes many things. It promotes our spiritual growth as almost nothing else except the study of the scriptures. Ten, prayer brings power into our work. If we wish power for any work to which God calls us, be it preaching, teaching, personal work, or the rearing of our children, we can get it by earnest prayer, 11, prayer avails for the conversion of others. 12, prayer brings blessings to the community and the nation. 13, praying for results is described in few words: “Prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.” Acts 12:1. In order that a prayer should be really unto God, there must be a definite and conscious approach to God when we pray. We must have a definite and vivid realization that God is bending over us and listening as we pray. 14, another secret of effective prayer is praying without ceasing. We read in Hebrews 5:7 that “in the days of his flesh” Christ “offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears.” 15, a third secret of right praying is also found in Acts 12:5. It is in the three words – of the church. This underscores the power in united prayer. God delights in the unity of His people and seeks to emphasize it in every way. So, God pronounces a special blessing upon united prayer. Jesus said: “If two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven,” Mathew 18:19. Two people might agree to ask for the same thing, yet there be no agreement as touching the thing they asked. One might ask it because he really desired it, the other might ask it simply to please his friend. But where there is real agreement, where two believers perfectly agree to ask for a thing, such prayer has irresistible power.
But when is it right to pray? In the first chapter of Mark, we read, Jesus chose the early morning hour for prayer. Many of the mightiest men of God have followed his example. In the sixth chapter of Luke, we read, “And it came to pass in those days, and he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.” Moreover, Jesus prayed before and after all the great problems in his life and after his great achievements. He usually withdrew from the multitudes and go into the wilderness to pray.
The first hindrance to prayer is to ask for God’s favours in order to spend them for pleasures, James 4:3. A selfish purpose in prayer robs prayer of power and God’s favour. Sin is the second hindrance to prayer, Isaiah 59: 1-2. Your prayers are not answered because you wallow in sin.
According to Isaiah, God’s ear is just as open to hear as ever, His hand just as mighty to save, but there is a hindrance. The hindrance is your own sins.” So today, you pray in vain if you wallow in sin. The third hindrance to prayer is to keep idols in your heart. “Idols in your heart cause God to refuse to listen to our prayers,” Ezekiel 14:3. An idol is anything that takes the place of God, anything that is the supreme object of our affection. God alone has the right to the supreme place in our hearts. Everything and everyone else must be subordinate to Him.
The fourth hindrance to prayer is to be found in Proverbs 21:13, “Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard.” There is no greater hindrance to prayer than stinginess, the lack of liberality toward the poor and toward God’s work. It is the one who gives generously to others who receives generously from God, Luke 6:38. “Whatsoever we ask we receive of him, because we keep his commandments and do those things that are pleasing in his sight,” 1 John 3:22. And when you stand praying, forgive. Lack of forgiveness is the fifth hindrance to prayer. Sixthly, a wrong relationship between husband and wife is a hindrance to prayer. This enjoins you to deal honestly with your spouse. Finally, prayers are hindered by unbelief. God demands that we believe His scriptures absolutely. To question is to make Him a liar. Let not any man without faith think of any answer to his prayers. “But any of you lacketh wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all liberally… But let him ask in faith, nothing doubting for he that doubteth is like the surge of the sea driven by the wind and tossed. Let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord,” James 1: 5-7. While work and prayer go hand in hand, worship comes later, when you can spare the time. He prays the most who works hardest.