For prayer to be effective there must be a groundwork of commitment behind it. Jesus said we can have anything we pray for, and some people are disappointed when they pray for a million pounds and don’t receive it. But Jesus wasn’t lying. If I pointed to a piece of land and told you that you could grow anything you wanted on that piece of land, I wouldn’t be lying. But if you were to grab a handful of seeds and toss them recklessly onto the dirt, the chances are that most of them would not grow.
Just as there is a process for growing seeds — weeding the field, preparing the soil, watering, adding nutrition — so there is a process which must be followed before prayer can be effective. If you have been following these steps closely, attending church and reading your Bible, then you will have already begun to prepare the soil. Now you can pray with confidence.
Begin your prayers with Our Father and end with a mention of Jesus as the son of God before the amen. This is no different to addressing a letter or an email. In between you can say whatever comes into your heart. The Bible says we should bow our head, close our eyes and put our hands together. Better still, be on your knees. This is the perfect attitude for serious prayer. It is humbling and respectful, not an easy thing to do for someone who is filled with pride. In truth you can pray at any time, and some pray as easily as they breathe, walking down the street.
Like seeds, some prayer responses will be quickly fulfilled, others will take longer and require patience. Some Christians keep lists of the things they pray for and tick them off as they are achieved. You’ll be surprised how many ticks you have after a period of time. My prayer for the car I wanted took four years to fulfil. Another for someone to invest in my business took six months. Don’t be afraid to pray selfishly. God wants us to have what we want. He likes to show off and sometimes answers your prayers through amazing coincidences that make it impossible for you to question that the gift has come from anywhere else but from Him. Don’t pray with desperation, but with a sense of what will be will be, that you are prepared to accept whatever God wants for your life. If prayers aren’t fulfilled it is because the thing you are asking for will do you more harm than good, or you are not ready to receive it, or quite simply, it’s not meant to be. Your prayers are part of a vast cosmos of destiny. Respect that.
Healing prayers have a part to play in the Christian life, and we must continue to intercede on behalf of the sick and ailing. When it is right, healing will take place, but none of us has the divine right to heal all. Even Jesus was selective. He healed to demonstrate God’s magnificence. Otherwise we would all be immortally stuck in life, which is not part of God’s plan. He has something much better lined up for us.