Ephesians 6:18-20 is a key passage for understanding the scope of prayer: Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints. Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel.
Five marks of real prayer:.
- Accurate. Vague waffling prayer is a waste of breath and time. Prayer needs to be on target. If you are unaware how to pray about a particular situation, take heart, The Spirit helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words (Rom. 8:26). Don't ignore a name or topic that the Spirit has placed on your heart. It is your prayers that may have been part of a prayer force vital for an intense part of the spiritual battle in another's life.
- Fervent. The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects, says James 5:16-18, as he described Elijah's successful fervent prayers for no rain and then much rain. Fervent prayer means you mean business with God - a prayer that is real and from the heart, prayed with intensity and urgency.
- Expectant. Ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind (James 1:6). Expectancy rules out tentative praying because it is based on God's ability to bring His results, in His timing. Expectancy can also be a growing conviction as you pray - perhaps over a period of weeks or months, you begin to sense that the Lord is in this.
- Earnest. Originally this word had the sense of laying hands on someone, thus identifying with them. In prayer groups others may lay hands on a person's head as an outward sign of inward earnestness in prayer for them.
- Persevering. We often have to persevere in prayer because we cannot see what is happening in the spiritual realm. We shall never fully understand how our prayers are effecting in the spiritual battle - nor how our prayers are involved in God's will and action. But it is clear from Scripture that they are, and this is why we must press on in persevering in prayer - perhaps over many years - when we know that the matter has been laid on our hearts by the Holy Spirit.
From Breaking the Prayer Barrier: Getting Through to God by Michael Baughen. Copyright (c) 1992 by Angus Hudson Ltd./Three's Company Text (c) 1981, 1983, 1992 Michael Baughen. Used by permission of Harold Shaw Publishers, Wheaton, Ill., 1-800-742-9782.
Michael Baughen, formerly rector of All Souls, Langham Place, London, has been bishop of Chester since 1982. He has also authored Moses and the Venture of Faith, and, with Myrtle Baughen, Your Marriage.