When you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.
Before we can expect God to answer our prayers, there are some prerequisites to powerful praying.
Pagans think a certain way, so they pray a certain way. In 1 Kings 18, the prophets of Baal thought the way you get your god to act is by engaging in a flurry of religious activities and mumbo-jumbo, crying out and trying to force your god to do what he doesn’t want to do. Jesus talked about that in Matthew 6:7-8 when He contrasted the way pagans pray with the way we should pray: “When you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” Sometimes when I’m in a prayer meeting and I hear somebody droning on and on, I secretly wonder if God is as bored as I am. Jesus said that God is not impressed by the number of words we offer or the choice of words we offer. Some people think effective praying is just stringing together theological words and that God is impressed by our vocabulary. No, the key to powerful praying, Jesus said, is not the number of words or the choice of words.
Powerful praying begins with a right relationship with God. In James 5:16, James said the effective prayer of a righteous person can accomplish much. What does it mean to be righteous? Righteous means being in a right relationship with God. Before we are saved, we are guilty before God, deserving hell, but the moment we trust in Jesus for our salvation, in the great courtroom of heaven God declares us not guilty. Our standing before God has changed from sinners deserving hell to believers deserving heaven, and it’s all because of what Christ does for us. That’s judicial righteousness. It is a permanent, irrevocable standing we have before God. When we become a Christian, that judicial righteousness not only changes our standing with God, but it also changes our relationship with God. No longer are we strangers and enemies of God, but we become children of God. When God declares us not guilty by our faith in Christ, we become a part of God’s forever family, and it changes God’s attitude toward us, especially when it comes to prayer. In Galatians 4:6-7, Paul explained it this way: “Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’” That word “abba” is Aramaic for “daddy.” The moment we become a Christian, God is no longer a distant deity; He’s our daddy, our papa. That gives us confidence in coming to God. Does that mean God is going to answer every prayer request we have? No. But if we are judicially righteous, we have the confidence that when we pray, God hears us and will answer according to His will. John said it this way in 1 John 5:14: “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.”
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Practice the Principles of Powerful Praying” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2017.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.