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Effective Prayer


Help us understand what God wants us to know about praying and what we should think when requests we have made are not answered,

Scripture Basis:

Matt 6:5-14, Matt 21:22 & 26:39, Luke 11:5-13, James 5:15-16

The Back Door:

Ask the group to imagine that an exchange student from a third world country has arrived to live with them. You need to teach them about life in your world and the topic of the day is using fast food drive through. How would you explain to your friend how to successfully order a meal at the McDonalds Drive Through - Do a step by step walk through. - (you should get something like this but with more detail)

Then discuss what can go wrong .. ask the following questions


  1. Ask the group what they think of think of when they here the word prayer?..
  2. Discuss the various methods of prayer you have seen .. in various religious groups or denominations

Students Teach Students

Consider now Jesus’ teaching on prayer in Matt chapter 6. Use the verses listed below to define each point. Have students read the verses and comment on what they see. Be sure to make the key points as they are not always obvious.

A. What not to do .. Matt 6:5-7

Do not pray in vain memorized repetitive verse of chants and do not get up in front of everybody so they can hear how well you speak

B. Before you Start Matt 6:6-9

Get by yourself .. In a group close our eyes and "get as alone as you can" . Adopt a reverent attitude .. this is the Creator you are addressing not man nor angel

C. Four Basic Steps of Prayer

Step 1 - Acknowledge Gods role in your life ...... Matt 6:10-11 / Acts 17:24

Acknowledge Gods Will for your life .. (check the menu) and acknowledge who its is who provides for you (food and everything)

Step 2 - Clean House ..... Matt 6:12-14

Confess your un-confessed sins / ask for forgiveness & repent (decide to turn around) and make up your mind to forgive others and be sure you go do it if possible Ask for help with the sin you have just confessed and for protection from Satan. Acknowledge the real struggle in your life is against sin (desires) and Satan lies.

Step 3 - Now Present your requests to God .. Phil 4:6 and Luke 11:5-13

Its good to first think of request for others and then ask for yourself last . Read Luke 11:5-13. Realize that God wants to give you the things you need and wants you to realize that He is the actual provider.

Step 4 - Believe .... Matt 21:22 & 26:39

Believe that God will give you what you ask as long as it is in Gods will for you (on the menu). Thank the Lord for what he will provide. Remember Faith is very valuable to God!

Now since Step 4 of prayer is the hard one .. (faith it seems always is) , lets look for a minute at what kind of prayers the Bible teaches us are effective and what kind are in-effective.

Effective prayers

In effective prayers

Those for things that are inside of Gods will or Gods plan for our life .. Matt 26:39 Those for things that are not part of Gods plan or will for us. God knows best!
Those offered in faith by believers .. Believing the request are will be granted .. Matt 21:22, Luke 18:1, James 5:15 Those offered without faith
Those offered by the righteous (believers living inside of Gods will) James 5:16 Those offered by unbelievers or believers who are living outside of Gods will (ie. in sin perhaps with lots of sorry and no repentance) Isa 1:5-21, John 9:31


D. Now what about After we Pray

So what should we do while we wait for our prayers to be answered.?

First we should consider the parable in Luke 18:1-8 and the story of the centurion in Matt 8:5-9. God values faith and faith must be exercised. We don’t need to keep repeating the prayer as though God did not hear it. Remember God has a better memory than McDonalds does. An also don’t leave the line so to speak. Exercise the faith by being patient. Realize that demonstrating faith requires time and faith demonstrated is very valuable to God and you ! (see 1 Peter 1:3-9 & Rom 12:12 )

When prayer is finally answered what should we do ?

Acknowledge that God has answered it and praise him and thank him for it. ... Rom 4:18-20

An lastly when prayer just does not seem to be getting answer we should recognize that-

  1. Gods timing may not be right yet. God manages the whole world and things in one place do affect things elsewhere. .. see the story of Abraham and Issac in Gen 16 ( my friends 5 requests that all came true in 1 hour after waiting 5 months)
  2. God or His kingdom may be continuing to benefit from your faith .. See Heb 11
  3. What you asked for may not be as good for you or someone else as you thought. .. see Rom 8:28 ?
  4. What you asked for may have already been provided. You might just not see it. those denominations that refuse medical attention for their children .. see Prov 3:31-23 and Gen 1:28(Story of the lady in the flood rejecting the boat while praying for deliverance from God. )
  5. What you requested may not be part of God plan for mankind right now... John 17:15 .. remember pain in childbirth and working for a living are part of the curse from Gen 3.
  6. We are being protected from something worse that worldly things - Satan. What you asked form may expose you to him even though you don’t realize it. Even Daniel’s request was delayed due to spiritual battle underway .... (story of my friends $50K windfall that lead to a big fall)

.. use your own examples here .. mine are included as examples


When you pray never forget the high point of Romans .which says ...

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Rom 8:28 (NIV)