But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray. —Luke 5:16, AMP
This verse from Luke shows that just like us, Jesus needed a break from the demands of His busy life to recharge his batteries and spend time with His Heavenly Father. The life of Christ is intended to give us examples we can follow and learn from. So, even though He was God incarnate, Jesus didn’t draw on His superpowers as the Son of God when it came to facing life’s challenges. Instead, when He was exhausted or burdened or in need of spiritual refreshment, He would “slip away” to pray — plugging into the power and purpose that can only be found in God’s presence.
Prayer is one of the most powerful weapons God has given us, and looking ahead into 2019, it has never been more important for God’s people to be on our knees than now. But learning how to pray effectively is not always easy. Jesus’ disciples felt the same confusion. They were familiar with the rote repeated prayers of the Torah. But Jesus prayed with a kind of authority and power they had never seen before — as though God was listening! So when they came to Jesus, as told in Matthew 6, they didn’t say, “Teach us another prayer.” They said, “Lord, teach us to pray.”
The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) is Yeshua’s response. It is a beautiful prayer and one that every Christian should hide in their heart — in fact, most have it memorized. But as elegant as the words are, Jesus never intended it to become another ritualistic prayer. Rather, it was to be an example of how to pray.
This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’
Here are nine keys to help you develop a more powerful prayer life. Hopefully they will encourage you to make 2019 a power-packed year of effective prayer.
1. Know to Whom you are speaking.
Prayer is a conversation with God, and every conversation begins by addressing the person to whom you are speaking by name. Yeshua begins with “Our Father in heaven.” He focuses on a distinct person — the Heavenly Father with whom he has a personal relationship. We share the same right to call God “Father,” and there are times when we need to talk with our Abba Father, Daddy God. But God is three distinct persons in One: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
It is helpful to know which of the Godhead we are speaking. Sometimes we will speak with Yeshua, the friend who is closer than a brother and the Savior of our soul. Other times we might cry out to Holy Spirit, for strength and power to overcome temptation or complete a difficult task which Father God has called us to do. We should pray often, expressing our affection & love to our Heavenly Father and to thank Him for our welfare and comfort and for all things He gives us each day. We pray to ask our Father for strength to live for Him and to love others. Speaking with our Heavenly Father takes times and focus but as we pray, our faith grows stronger.
2. Approach with gratitude.
Approaching the heart of God with gratitude is always a great conversation starter. Like any parent, God loves to see that we have grateful hearts. But more importantly, as we take the time to praise God for all He has done in the past — and review those answered prayers, the impossible situations overcome, the healings and grace — and even our faith to believe for even greater answers to prayer grows stronger and more confident. Praise opens the gates of heaven and should always be part of our alone time with God.
3. Speak what you need.
Dependence upon the Lord is pleasing to Him. He likes it when we ask, because He is a good Father. In Jesus’ time, bread was a staple — one of the most basic needs of life — and He did not hesitate to ask God to provide it. But we often hesitate to bother God with the little things we need, thinking he shouldn’t be bothered. And when the big problems come, we try everything we can to solve the problem before we think to pray. The Bible says, “You do not have because you do not ask God.” So never hesitate to ask God for what you need in 2019.
4. Agree with God.
Your Father in heaven delights to give you good gifts. Speak as if you believe that truth. Do not pray in unbelief. Agree with what the Lord is saying about you, a situation or another person. Do not make a habit of complaining and speaking negatively when you pray. In reference to the “power of the spoken word”, someone once said that it is better to agree with heaven, than to agree with hell.
5. Ask for God’s will.
The Lord’s Prayer is not the only place where Jesus role-modeled a heart of obedience and submission to the will of God over his own desires and needs. In the Garden of Gethsemane, only hours before Jesus’ crucifixion, He would once again pray, “not my will, but Yours be done.” In a world where right and wrong are frequently confused and the future is so uncertain, it can be hard to know how to pray or what to ask for when difficult circumstances arise. But the one thing we can know with absolute certainty is that God’s plan for those who love Him is good, and the safest place we can be is in the center of His divine will.
6. Repent and ask for forgiveness.
James 5:16 reminds us that if we want our prayers to be heard, our hearts need to be right with God and with one another. If you feel your prayers are bouncing off the ceiling, take some time to check your heart.
7. Pray with a friend.
This is one of the most underutilized tools in our kingdom arsenal. Matthew 18:20 says, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” There is power in agreement when we pray in Jesus’ name. When we have an urgent need to take before the throne of God, how often will we call a friend to pray? If you don’t already have one, make finding a trusted prayer partner one of your goals in 2019.
8. Pray the Word.
One of the best films about prayer in 2015 was the War Room, starring Priscilla Shirer. The timing of its release was perfect because our country was on the brink of an unprecedented election in 2016 and America was in need of a great example of what a prayer warrior is called to do. The example that Miss Clara set for the Priscilla Shirer’s character is an excellent example for us to follow and set for those who have not yet discovered prayer. How many people are watching your prayer life? How many are listening to you praying through each difficult need or situation which arises. Are they watching you pray with belief? Are you praying for healing, deliverance or salvation with scripture and a powerful promise of God? The Word of God is powerful and prayer is our great spiritual weapon to wield it. There is no better blessing than to pray the Word. Son and daughter, just pray the Word, and in faith you will move mountains.
Jesus did the same when he was tempted by Satan in the wilderness (see Luke 4:1-12). He was the Son of God, but He did not use his divine authority. Instead, He used the authority of the Scriptures.
9. Memorize Scripture.
The most important key to a vibrant prayer life is to understand your spiritual authority in Jesus Christ as explained in the Scriptures. The only way to do that is to become intimately familiar with the written Word of God. Even a few minutes a day in the Word of God will add strength and authority to your prayers. May the Lord bless you richly as you unlock your war room in 2019 and begin to overcome those spiritual battles with righteous victory! Amen.