Effective Prayer R.D.Ice [written 1967]
How much do you believe in the power of prayer??? Is God really to be influenced by words spoken to Him? Is there a right and a wrong way to pray? Let us consider these questions.
These are important matters. God has commanded us to pray to Him, as the Scriptures plainly state. Jesus has promised an answer to prayer in His name. God does hear us. Of this there can be no doubt. He desires us to lean upon Him and use His strength. Accepting His aid and strength will cause us to love Him more and will also make us grow and "mature." (read 1 Cor. ch 13)
Is there a wrong way to pray? Most certainly there is! A prayer without faith is a wrong prayer. It is possible to pray in what we feel to be faith, while at the same time actually denying God's ability to do for us what we ask.
Alfred W. Price, a minister who has devoted much time to helping those with nervous problems says this: "Pray positive prayers. Now you are sick in body, mind or spirit. You have a terrible fear, a feeling of guilt or inadequacy; and so you pray, 'O God, make me well. Heavenly Father, if You don't help me soon, it's going to be too late! O Lord, help me. Give me patience in my affliction.'
That seems right, yet it is actually the worst kind of prayer you can pray. All you are doing is praying to yourself. You are saying to yourself, 'How terribly sick I am, how awful I feel.' It's just turning the whole psychology of prayer inside your own mind and stirring you up and discouraging you. You become so tense and anxious that there is not a crevice in the channel for God's power and wisdom and guidance to come in. Don't ever pray like that!"
The Bible says: "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." This is fact! The one who prays negatively, who continually fills his mind with negative thoughts, will only succeed in increasing his misery. Another principle surely taught in the Bible is: "By thy faith command thou Me." Faith is the victory which overcomes the world!
When we act, then God will respond. He waits on us often, and perhaps we do not have because we do not ask, as James says. [And our motives for praying are also important.]
How then should we pray? "Heavenly Father, I thank You that I am better today." This is recognizing that God is at work in our lives today. (If we do not believe that He is helping us, why do we desire the prayers of others when we are sick? Paul requested brethren to pray for him time and again. As God's children, we have many precious promises through Christ.)
Here is a sample prayer. "Gracious Father, I am Your child. My life is not separate from You. You have promised me an abundant life through Christ Jesus. Whatever the day brings, I can count on Your love and goodness and power. I am at peace with myself, and with You. I claim the finished work of Jesus. Therefore I have no reason to be anxious or worried or afraid. I can live this day happily, peacefully, creatively. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I place myself in Your hands. Take me and use me for Your glory always. Let Your wisdom sink deep into my thoughts now. Let Your peace, the peace that passes understanding, fall on me, taking away all uneasiness and disturbance. Let Your forgiveness take out of my heart any hypocrisy or falsehood, make me spiritually honest - give me an understanding heart. All this I ask through Christ my Lord, and I will praise You forever in His name, Amen."
Compare Matt. 6:5-15; Rev. 5:8-10; 8:1-6