How Should We Pray?
It is not the place of prayer that is the critical factor, but rather the manner in which we lift our petitions. To insure success we should keep the following guidelines in mind:
Pray with a clean heart—
This is the only way to get God’s attention. In Psalm 66:18-20 David declared: “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer. Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer…”
In Psalm 18:20 David acknowledged the wellspring of this special favor: “The Lord has dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me.”
Pray with humility—
A humble and obedient spirit is another prerequisite to successful prayer. Intercessory formulas and clichés are presumptuous, and those who make a steady diet
of them risk offending the Almighty. God is not a puppet on a string or a genie that we can command. When we approach Him it behooves us to acknowledge His sovereignty and splendor. We should listen before we speak, and when we do speak our primary focus should be on His will and purposes.
Pray with passion and fervor—
Passionless prayer is the equivalent of vain repetition or mindless muttering. It takes up time but in the end accomplishes nothing. To pray fervently we must become familiar with the object of our prayer (be it a person, a situation, or a community). This is hard work, but it is a price we will willingly pay if we are consumed with the heart of God (see Ezekiel 2:9-3:4). Informed intercession is a matter of not only of seeing things from God’s perspective, but also feeling them.
Pray with persistence—
Importunity is a recurring theme in Scripture (see Genesis 32:26; Luke 11:5-10; Acts 12:5). In II
Kings 13:14-19 Elisha told King Jehoash to strike the ground with a handful of arrows. When
Jehoash paused after three blows the prophet was angry with him saying: “You should have struck the ground five or six times; then you would have defeated Aram and completely destroyed it.” So it is with intercessory prayer. We do not rest in our petition until God gives the Amen.
Pray with faith and boldness—
The primary difference between bold and presumptuous intercession is specific guidance from the Holy Spirit. While it is true that we have been given power and authority in Christ (see Luke 10:19), this authority is not for us to use at our own initiative or discretion. It is ambassadorial authority, which means that it is to be exercised only at the bidding of the Sovereign (see II Corinthians 5:20).
Leveling the playing field—
We are not asking God to “make” people Christians or to “expel” demonic powers that have become objects of worship. Such requests violate man’s free will and God will not honor them. What we are appealing for is a level playing field, a temporary lifting of the spiritual blindness that prevents men and women from processing truth at a heart level.
Since our own strength is insufficient to bind higher-dimensional beings, we must rely on the resources of the Holy Spirit. Our request is that He temporarily suspend the logical consequences (spiritual enchantment) of people’s misplaced choices—an action that requires that He interpose himself between deceived individuals and their spiritual masters.
Taken with permission from George Otis, Jr., The Twilight Labyrinth (Grand Rapids, Chosen Books, 1998),