(This week I include my original song “God Who Answers” for your enjoyment as you read this week’s blog)

How’s your prayer life?  Do you wonder if it could be more effective?

Last week I had the opportunity to spend some time with my friends Daryl and Judy.  This couple has a powerful ministry, and God has used them to pray with people as well as to teach and lead others into a productive prayer life. I have learned a lot about prayer from this great husband and wife team. They are prayer partners in my ministry and have been a tremendous blessing in my life, so I looked forward to our visit.  During our conversation, we discussed the importance of understanding our status and standing with God when we pray. The apostle Paul put it this way in his letter to the church at Ephesus:

“God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”

Ephesians 2:6-7

Think for a moment about the magnitude of this statement: we are seated with Christ—right now, not just in the future—in the very presence of God!  In a very real sense, we have a highly favored, front row seat in the throne room and a reserved place at the royal family banquet table of God. This has happened not because of anything we have done, but by the grace of God poured into us by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to this, and have come to realize that at times I still pray out of a diminished perspective of who I am in Christ.  Even as we are to walk humbly with God and approach Him with awe, God is also teaching me that in Christ I can and should pray as a forgiven, adopted son and not as an impoverished nobody. The great Bible commentator Matthew Henry put it this way:

“Sinners roll themselves in the dust; sanctified souls sit in heavenly places, are raised above the world… Saints are not only Christ’s freemen, but they are assessors with him; by the assistance of his grace they have ascended with him above this world to converse with another, and they live in the constant expectation of it. They are not only servants to the best of masters in the best work, but they are exalted to reign with him; they sit upon the throne with Christ, as he has sat down with his Father on his throne.”

As long as we are alive, Christ-followers have our feet in two worlds: our current, earthly life and the now and yet -to-be–fully-realized standing in heaven.  Our new, royal status in the heavenly realm should permeate and guide our prayer life! This understanding will lead us to pray not for selfish gains, but for God’s will and kingdom plans to come “on earth as it is in heaven.” Here are just a few keys that God is teaching me about an effective prayer life:

  •    Boldly ask for God’s perspective on the situation or person for which you are praying. Our earthly perspective is limited, and we need to see life and our circumstances in the light of God’s perfect wisdom. We are welcome to do this as you sit with Jesus Christ at God’s right hand as the writer of Hebrews urged:

“ Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Hebrews 4:16

  •    Pay attention to what God implants in your mind or heart—a Scripture verse, a picture or thought, and a sense of how and what to pray.

 

  •    Speak aloud the prayer and scripture that God instructs you to pray. There is great power in declaring out loud God’s Word for a person or situation. God spoke His Word, and the entire cosmos came into being. God also said that His Word will never return empty but will always produce fruit. Let your prayers be spoken in the Holy Spirit of God, who breathes power and depth in our words.

 

  •    Pray, even when you don’t necessarily feel it, with the sure conviction that you are seated with Christ in the presence of God! This is the God who loves you and has adopted you as a beloved daughter or son in Christ. He loves to answer the prayers of His own who delight in Him and desire His will for their life and this world.

Finally, thank God as you expect to see prayers answered and your faith increasing!

God bless you!

Chris Atkins