7 Essential Elements of Powerful Prayer
In this How to Get Your Prayer Life series, I’ve discussed the difficulty of prayer, introduced the concept of prayer envy, and offered candid tips for getting rid of prayer envy. And I’ve been enjoying the series thus far. Hopefully, you have too. But it still leaves the question that we have all ask ourselves and others in the faith…
How should I pray?
What a loaded question! It’s one that even the disciples asked Christ. Remember that they had been in communion with Him, listened to Him teach, and watched Him perform miracles. All that time under His tutelage still yielded the petition we ask today, “Lord, teach us how to pray.”
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6 ESV
It’s never too early to learn how to pray, and it’s never too late to ask for more wisdom in your prayer life. I’ve read and recited the Lord’s Prayer on many occasion, but when I want to pray as if conversing with God, I often find myself implementing these 7 essential elements of powerful prayer.
1. Worship Him
While I usually end with songs of worship, I believe that beginning prayer with a heart of worship puts me in the right posture to enter into God’s presence.
And when I say posture, I don’t necessarily mean bent knee and bowed head. I believe we get this meaning of worship from the use of the word throughout the Old Testament. Worship for the Israelites often referred to a physical state of reference. Worship was seen as bowing down and prostrating yourself before the Lord.
Now, I’ve gotten out of the habit of feeling that I’m worshipping God simply because my knees touch the floor and my head tilts down. Now, I stand, lift my arms, and raise my head to Heaven above or lay down with my face to the ground, just depending on what space of worship I’m in. I’m enjoying the freedom of worshipping Him in spirit and in truth. Sometimes, my worship to Him is sweet and precious. Other times, it is full of conviction and repentance. But every time, there is a sense of joy and peace that comes with this conscious and spiritual awareness of His presence.
But an hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth. Yes, the Father wants such people to worship Him.
John 4:23 CSB
If you have never done so, I would invite you to explore your time of worship with the Lord. Don’t get caught up in the physical posture. Feel the freedom to raise your arms, lift your hands, weep, hum, sing, and adore. Instead, be consumed by the presence of God in the spiritual and true sense of worship, regardless of the position of your body.
2. Get your Praise on
Not that He needs a reminder, but take the time to reminisce about just how good God has been, is currently, and will always be. Remind yourself of His holiness, His grace and mercy, and His love. Recall some of the most recent or most miraculous moments that He has chosen to bless you. And treasure the times that God has proved mighty in your life and the lives of those you love.
Praise is the result of a full circle understanding of the grace that God gifts in lieu of how sinful I am. That He loves me enough to see past my flaws, and forgive me of them all together, gives me more reasons than I’m able to contain to rejoice and focus on how awesome my God is.
We praise you, God, we praise you, for your Name is near; people tell of your wonderful deeds.
Psalm 75:1 NIV
The fact that He knows me by name. That He designed me in His image. That He has a plan for my life. That He would allow His Son to die for me. That He wants His Spirit to live within me. That He desires to have a relationship with me, unique to me and precious to Him. All these things and so much more cause praise to flow from my heart and out of my lips.
3. Confession Time
I have major trust issues, and I’m not the best at sharing information with others, especially women, specifically gossip girls and Chatty Cathies. Something about a frequent talker makes me less likely to talk. If you’re anything like me, the whole confess your sins to one another concept can be difficult to navigate.
Not that you can get around it, but for me, the first step is to be able to confess it to God. He already knows what consumes my heart and my mind. And there’s no being fake around Him. There’s no hide and seek with my hot mess of a life. There’s no running from the mistakes I’ve made when the Lord knew that I would make them before I was even privy to them.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not conceal my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah.
Psalm 32:5 CSB
Confessing sins to God is a safe place to be vulnerable, to be open, to be honest. If I can stand before Him and be transparent about where I fall short, standing in front of others with that same sense of honesty fails to be as anxiety-producing and stress-promoting as before. If He won’t judge me and find me guilty, why then should I be concerned with how someone else judges me? This legal reference leads right into the next element…
4. File your Petition
File your petitions in the court of God’s Kingdom. Make your appeal to Him for any single or variety of causes. Now is the time to make good on all those I’ll pray for you comments.
To be clear, petitions are typically coupled with intercession. The petitions I’m speaking of are others-centered. It’s a time to intercede on the behalf of others, in a way that prays for them according to God’s will. The Holy Spirit has a unique way of leading us in strategic and specific prayer directed for the building up of those we love and have concern and compassion for.
Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
Philippians 2:4 CSB
Ask boldly. Ask for the desire of your sister’s heart. Ask for salvation for your brother. Ask for wisdom for your leaders. Ask for compassion for your boss. Ask for peace for your spouse. Ask for joy for those you may not enjoy. Bottom line…entreat God with requests made on the behalf of those around you before rattling off your own wishlist.
Praying these petitions promotes peace.
5. Don’t forget Supplication
Most women have difficulty asking for the things they truly desire. Ok, atleast I do. I have a funny relationship with the word NO, and it pains me to hear it. When I was a child and my parents told me no, I would find a way to do it my way. I could never just accept the no. It became a challenge, a goal to set, a domain to be conquered. I just couldn’t accept the word NO.
Fast forward to today. I still have difficulty hearing the word NO. I’d like to think that I’ve outgrown those childish ways but admittedly, they persist. I, however, have grown accustomed to asking for only those things that I believe will get an absolute, unequivocal YES. And that spirited, can do attitude after an obstacle is presented has abandoned me and left me with a worn down, worn out, oppressed shell of a woman. A woman who prefers not to ask for what she wants. Even when I think I have a shot of getting a YES, I do my best to avoid even the possibility of a NO.
You do not have because you do not ask.
James 4:2d CSB
If you’re like me, you need to realize something very important. You have been commanded to ask. Of course with the right motives and the best of intentions. It’s only allowed if it’s according to His will and His plan.
I’ve had to remember that God already knows what I need and want. Yet, I’m still commanded to ask for these things. Maybe it’s the act of participation God is after. Or maybe the ask activates His hand to move on my behalf. Either way, I’m coming to understand that it doesn’t hurt to ask, especially with the right heart and trust the size of a seedling.
6. It’s always Thanksgiving
Gratefulness. Gratitude. Plain old thanks. It’s always a good time to offer thanks to the Giver of all good things and the Creator of every perfect thing.
Give thanks to the God of heaven! His faithful love endures forever.
I personally had to stop viewing Thanksgiving as an annual holiday for family gatherings, football watching, and diet crushing. Thanksgiving is more of a daily posture, an attitude and mindset that infects my view of the world around me. Instead of seeing the negative aspects of my circumstances, I can easily find 20, 50, 100 things that I have to be thankful for. All of these beautiful, wonderful, precious, lovely things, from my husband and our boys to the autonomous nature of the very breathe in our lungs. The warmth of the sun on my face on a chilly winter day or the joy of a student who recently got accepted to their dream school with a little of my coaching on her college entrance essay. The smell of a perfectly grilled steak with sea salt and cracked black pepper French fries and garlic butter asparagus. Or the cry of a newborn baby held in your arms just after 14 hours in labor.
We have so much to be thankful for, from the little items we take for granted to the outstanding miracles that create our testimonies. So review God’s attributes, His character, and His compassion, and offer gratitude for the role He plays in the beauty that is your life.
7. Silence is golden
You’ve spoken, and now it’s time to be silent. God’s been listening, and He just may have something to say. This time of silence isn’t specifically in order as the last thing to do during your prayer time.
Silence is a time to be sensitive to the Spirit. To hear what God has to say in response or in addition or in love. Silence can be at the beginning, the end, or somewhere in the middle. Just like I suddenly realize that I’ve dominated the conversation with a good friend, I also need to recognize my rambling and God’s desire to get a word in.
Be still, and know that I am God…
Psalm 46:10a KJV
Without this golden period of silence, there is no dialogue. No conversation. No communication. Instead, you have a soliloquy to an audience of none, a monologue to the imaginary Santa Claus, an audible message fallen on deaf ears. The whole point of prayer is to communicate with God. But the very idea of communication involves an ongoing relationship where roles are swapped back and forth from messenger to listener and vice versa. This message and feedback loop is the central component of a conversation. And oftentimes, we forget that relationship isn’t built on lying on a leather couch and divulging everything to God, while He takes notes and asks what we think about that. Relationship, the kind of relationship He desires to have with us, is comprised of a message and feedback loop that allows us direct access to Him and affords us the opportunity to get to know Him personally.
Don’t forget that He wants to be known by you individually. Knowing someone takes time, communication, and intimacy. Offer to God a way to enter into your space, your head, and your heart. And build something beautiful and personal with Him.
These are my 7 Essential Elements of Powerful Prayer. But what about you? Are there any that I missed? What do you like to include in your own prayer time?
Share your revelation below.
In this month’s issue, let’s strengthen our relationship with God by focusing on our petitions, pleas, and praise through the series, How to Get Your Prayer Life.