10 Principles of Effective Prayer

September 8, 2023

Contrary to what you may think, prayer is not just casual conversation with Eloah — the living God. Our prayers should be based on Scriptural promises and taken seriously, without the need for excessive wording to gain Yah’s attention. Our approach to prayer matters.

Sadly, most believers have never received instruction in the proper protocol for entering the throne room of Heaven. Instead, many of us were fed a top 10 list of why we fail to pray. The good news is it is never too late to learn how to pray. The keys are in your Bible.

Disciples Pray

Yeshua expects his disciples to pray.

Therefore I say to you, whatever you pray and ask for, believe that you have received, and it will be done for you.

Mark 11:24

Although this verse implies that we will get a blank check to receive whatever we ask, nothing could be further from the truth. Prayer has its protocol. We are instructed to pray to the Father in the name of the Son by the direction and power of the Ruach Ha’Kodesh (Holy Spirit). This will get us to the starting point. But there is more to consider.

Here is a list of 10 principles for effective prayer:

#1 Believe that the Father loves you

We do not have an emotionally distant heavenly Father. He loves us just as much as when we are obedient as when we fall into sin. After Adam and Chavah1 broke the covenant in the Garden of Eden, YHWH (Yahuah)provided a way for humanity to be redeemed through faith in a coming Messiah.2 (Genesis 3)

Just as the prodigal’s father welcomed him with open arms when he returned home, we can all expect a similar reception from Yahuah when we come to him in prayer. (Luke 15:11-32)

So if you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!

Luke 11:13

In his sermon on the mount, Yeshua gave us instructions on how to pray. (Matthew 6:5-13) He stressed the importance of getting alone with the Father in a private place. (Mark 1:35)

In corporate prayer, where two or more are gathered to petition the Father, we pray as one body for a desired outcome. (Acts 2:42) (Matthew 18:20) (Psalm 34:3)

When the disciples asked Yeshua why they were unable to drive a demon out of a boy he replied: ‘This kind is able to come forth with nothing except with prayer.’ (Mark 9:29)3

The Hebrew word for intercession is paga, which is defined as “having an effect by accident or violence, or (figuratively) by opportunity.” The Greek equivalent is huperentugchano, which simply means “to intercede on behalf of or for the sake of.” Jamie Rohrbaugh defines intercession as “colliding with God violently until His will is enforced on the earth.” This kind of aggressive prayer warfare is necessary when we face seemingly insurmountable odds such as catastrophic illness or the impending failure of a marriage.

    #2 Faith triumphs over wishful thinking

    Our prayers ought to begin with faith. We must believe that our petitions will be heard and answered in Yah’s way and in His timing.

    And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who approaches Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.

    Hebrews 11:6

    According to Biblical Illustrator, the term faith “expresses a confidence or persuasion of the truth of anything not self-evident, received upon the testimony of another.” The testimony here is that of Yahuah’s character. He delights to hear and answer our prayers. But if we doubt his promise to come to our aid, then prayer is pointless.

    Now faith is the assurance of what we hope for and the certainty of what we do not see

    Hebrews 11:1

    Biblical faith is not a pipe dream or wishful thinking. In Matthew’s gospel, when Yeshua caused the fig tree to wither, the disciples wanted to know how he did it. His explanation tied the moving of a mountain to belief.

    “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “if you have faith and do not doubt, not only will you do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”

    Matthew 21:21,22

    The Greek word for faith used here is pistis. It means being fully persuaded or having the moral conviction of the truthfulness of Yahuah. When we possess unwavering faith, we can be confident that we will receive whatever we ask for — in Yah’s timing and in His way.

    #3 The Holy Spirit must guide you

    Prayer is not a way for us to get Yah to do what we want. It is a way for us to become an instrument for Eloah to do what He wants. This mindset requires that we renounce our own will and embrace His.

    And this is the confidence that we have before Him: If we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.

    1 John 5:14

    According to theologian Albert Barnes, the limitation “according to His will” probably means in accordance with what He has declared He is willing to grant. Put another way, Yah limits the answer to prayer to what He believes to be best for us.

    The expression must limit the petition to what it will be consistent for God to bestow upon us. We can‘t expect that he will work a miracle to answer our prayers; we can’t ask him to bestow blessings in violation of any of the laws which he has ordained or in any other way than that which he has appointed. The expression must limit the promise to what will be for the good of the whole. The interests of the whole creation as well as the individuals are to be regarded.

    To be led by the Spirit is to submit to the Spirit’s influence and control. How does this translate practically? We strive to obey the Torah (instructions for living). The Spirit’s direction as we obey the commandments marks us as His children.

    Since prayer is a major weapon of spiritual warfare we must rely on the Ruach Ha’Kodesh (Holy Spirit) to guide us. (Romans 8:14) To become a child of Eloah, we must be born by His Ruach — without which we can not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

    The key is learning how to be led by the Spirit. We must allow the Spirit to pray through us the type of prayer that needs to be prayed for the situation we face.

    When we release the reins of our soul, the Ruach liberates our spirit to pray effectively through “groaning too deep for words.” The Spirit gives us the right prayer to utter in our own language — a prayer we never would have prayed when left to ourselves. It is an activity of our spirit that goes beyond our mind’s ability to understand.

    #4 We must ask in the authority of Yeshua’s name

    And whatsoever you shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you shall ask anything in my name, I will do it.

    John 14:13,14

    Three things are implied when we pray in the name of Yeshua.

    1. We come to Eloah on the basis of what Yeshua has done for us (1 Peter 3:18) (Ephesians 2:13) (Hebrews 12:24)
    2. We come on the basis of Yeshua’s position as our mediator and High Priest (1 John 2:1)
    3. We come on the basis of the relationship we have with the Father through him (Ephesians 1:3-6)

    The Father had an eternal purpose before Creation ever took place. He had foreknowledge of us and determined that through Yeshua he would adopt us into his family as his children.

    When we pray in Yeshua’s name, it is equivalent to saying “on Yeshua’s account.” When someone with money in a bank authorizes another person to draw on their account, it is similar to how we are given permission to ask the Father for anything in the name of the Son. Because the Father is well pleased in Yeshua and we are friends of the Son, he answers our prayers.

    #5 Our motives must be pure

    Our desire to glorify Yah is always the right motive. It is our sole purpose for living. Prayer is just one of the ways Yah has ordained for us to give Him glory.

    And I will do whatever you ask in My name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 

    John 14:13

    When we pray, we need to ask ourselves: Am I praying for this thing out of the old or new self (man)? Is my request being made because I want it or because Yahuah wants it for me? When we try to force our own will through, we do not make room for the will of Eloah.

    Now to the one who is able to do beyond all measure more than all that we ask or think, according to the power this is at work in us, to Him be the glory int he ekklesia and in Yeshua HaMoshiach to all generations forever and ever. Amen.

    Ephesians 3: 20,21

    Prayer is a way for us to become an instrument for Yah to do what He wants in our lives. The right motive for prayer is to bring glory to Yah. Our purpose for living is to glorify the Father through the Son.

    And I will do whatever you ask in My name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

    John 14:13
    Man with head bowed in effective prayer.

    #6 Humility matters

    The hallmark of our Messiah’s life and ministry was humility.

    Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,  who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,  but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

    Philippians 2:5-8

    Like our Messiah, we must throw aside pride and self-centeredness when we approach the Father in prayer. We must come to a place in our spiritual maturity where we seek Yahuah’s solution to our problems and challenges in life. Ministry can not be motivated by selfish ambition. The only way to deal with it is to die to “self.”

    In the words of Hannah Whitehall Smith from The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life:

    In laying off your burdens, therefore, the first one you must get rid of is yourself. You must hand yourself and all your inward experiences, your temptations, your temperament, your frames, and reelings, all over into the care and keeping of your God, and leave them there. He made you and therefore He understands you, and knows how to manage you, and you must trust Him to do it.

    Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you.

    James 4:10

    #7 Prayer is our priestly duty

    As citizens of the coming Kingdom, we must learn to minister as priests, offering the kind of sacrifices — of prayer and praise — that Yah requires in this age.

    And yourselves, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Yeshua.

    1 Peter 2:5

    The word for priest in Hebrew is kohen. It means “chief ruler; one who officiates and judges or mediates in religious services.” The first mention of the word priest is in Genesis when Abraham encounters Melchizedek. This is the eternal order of priesthood that Yeshua belongs to. This priestly order came before the Levitical order, which was tied to genealogy.

    This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, and Abraham apportioned to him a tenth of everything. First, his name means “king of righteousness.” Then also, “king of Salem” means “king of peace.” Without father or mother or genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God, he remains a priest for all time.

    Hebrews 7:1-3

    One day believers will rule and reign with Yeshua in the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. In order to rule, we first have to learn to minister as priests in prayer. As we learn to pray, we become qualified to rule as priests. In essence, we learn to rule “rightly” through the discipline of prayer.

    Priests are intercessors and judges. Unlike corrupt judges in our secular world who are easily bribed, those who inherit positions of authority in the Kingdom will possess integrity. At that time we will be equipped to always judge righteously because of the permanent indwelling of the Spirit in an incorruptible resurrection body. Our judgments will be based on an error-free understanding of the eternal Word of Yahuah that will be permanently etched on our circumcised hearts. This is a promise of the New Covenant. (Hebrews 8:6-13)

    #8 Our personal relationships must be healthy

    Before praying, we should make every effort to reconcile with our brother or sister if there is something we have done that has wounded them.

    And when you stand to pray, if you hold anything against another, forgive it, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your trespasses as well.

    Mark 11:25

    Our modern-day, post-temple “gifts and sacrifices” that we bring to the altar are our prayers that are steeped in praise. Believers are not to behave like petulant children. We are called to handle disputes in mature love, with the goal of restoration and reconciliation in mind.

    So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.

    Matthew 5:23,24

    Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise, the fruit of lips that confess His name. And do not neglect to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

    Hebrews 13:15,16

    Healthy relationships between brothers and sisters in the faith matter to the Father. We can’t expect Eloah to hear our petitions or forgive us if our relationship with a fellow believer is broken. It is our responsibility to reconcile before entering Yahuah’s presence. In doing so we approach the Father with a clear conscience and renewed confidence that our prayers will be heard. (Matthew 18:23-24)

    #9 We approach the Father with confidence

    Yeshua laid down his life willingly so sinful humanity could be forgiven and become eligible to receive eternal life. This selfless act made on our behalf means we can be confident in our prayer life.

    When you were dead in your trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our trespasses, having canceled the debt ascribed to us in the decrees that stood against us. He took it away, nailing it to the cross!

    Colossians 2:13,14

    Walking in the Spirit means we are doing our best to obey the Torah’s instructions on how to live righteously. Our conscience is clear knowing that we will not be condemned as a result of sin — which is transgression of the law. The gospel of grace made possible by our High Priest Yeshua sets us free from the condemnation of the law.

    There is therefore now no condemnation of those who are in Yeshua Hamashiach.

    Romans 8:1

    #10 Fasting energizes prayer for a breakthrough

    Sometimes circumstances dictate that we combine prayer with fasting. Humbling ourselves by denying our bodies food (and sometimes water too) is a practice that few avail themselves of today. But the scriptures are full of examples where fasting sowed the seed for the miraculous to happen.

    • Esther’s preparation before petitioning the King on behalf of Israel (Esther 4:15-17)
    • Moses on Mt. Sinai (Deuteronomy 9:9-18)
    • When Darius spent the night fasting after Daniel was cast in the lion’s den. (Daniel 6:18)
    • The sparing of Nineveh (Jonah 3)
    • When Daniel sought understanding regarding the end of the 70 years in Babylon (Daniel 9:3)
    • Elijah’s escape from Jezebel (1 Kings 19:4-8)
    • Yeshua’s fast before his testing in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1,2)

    However, no amount of fasting will move Eloah’s heart if our behaviors and motives are rotten. Isaiah the Prophet makes this clear. (Isaiah 58) Fasting is not meant to twist the Father’s arm to get what we want. It is designed to prioritize the Spirit’s leading over the flesh’s demands. It helps us reign in our thoughts and emotions to line up with the Word.

    Final Thoughts on Effective Prayer

    As we come to our Father in prayer we must always remember that we have been invited to this throne to receive mercy. A throne denotes a King. In the case of the believer, the King is the Supreme ruler of Creation — Yahuah.

    Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

    Hebrews 4:16

    According to the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, when grace is mentioned in scripture, the focus of attention is not on the giver, but on the recipient, of what is given. The Greek form of the word is charis (G5485), which is defined as “a pleasing circumstance, matter of approval, beneficial opportunity, or act of favor.” Eleos, the word for mercy, implies “compassion, kindness, or goodwill towards the miserable and afflicted, joined with a desire to help.” (G1656)

    We have been invited to enter the throne room of the Sovereign ruler of all things. We come, not relying on our own merits but on the shed blood of Yeshua, our righteous Savior. Knowing this allows us to approach with humble expectations of mercy and the blessed assurance that our Father will always act in our best interest.


    FOOTNOTES

    1 Chavah (H2332) is a Hebrew word meaning life giver or to live. This is harmonious with the description in Genesis 3:20 — “…because she was the mother of all living.” So where did the English transliteration Eve come from? According to Robert Alter [“The Five Books of Moses”, 2004, Commentary on Genesis iii.20]: “In the Hebrew here, the phonetic similarity is between hawah, “Eve,” and the verbal root hayah, “to live.” It has been proposed that Eve’s name conceals very different origins, for it sounds suspiciously like the Aramaic word for “serpent.” Others link the name “Eve” to the word “evil” and blame the woman for bringing sin down on the entire world.

    2 Albert Barnes Commentary on Genesis 3: “Up to a certain point there had been concord and alliance between these two parties. But, on the very opening of the heavenly court, we learn that the friendly connection had been broken. For the woman said, “The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.” This expression indicates that the woman was no longer at one with the serpent. When God, therefore, said, “I will put enmity between thee and the woman,” this revulsion of feeling on her part, in which Adam no doubt joined, was acknowledged and approved. Enmity with the enemy of God indicated a return to friendship with God, and presupposed incipient feelings of repentance toward him, and reviving confidence in his word. The perpetuation of this enmity is here affirmed, in regard not only to the woman but to her seed. This prospect of seeing, and of a godly seed, at enmity with evil, became a fountain of hope to our first parents and confirmed every feeling of returning reverence for God which was beginning to spring up in their breast. The word heard from the mouth of God begat faith in their hearts, and we shall find that this faith was not slow to manifest itself in acts.”

    3 In some Bible translations, Mark 9:29 omits the word fasting. Similarly, in chapter 17 of Matthew’s gospel, there is no mention of prayer and/or fasting in many translations. The disciples’ inability to drive out the unclean spirit is attributed to a lack of faith. The Codex Sianaiticus and Codex Vaticanus do not include the verse.

    Brenda Ross
    Brenda Ross

    Brenda Ross is a co-author of the book, “The Gospel Worth Dying For.” She is a former major market radio and television broadcaster who has served as Single’s Ministry Director at one of Houston’s Memorial Drive-area churches, a Jews for Jesus staff volunteer, and participated in mission outreach activities in Costa Rica, Mexico, and China. Urban mission experience includes volunteer work for Habitat for Humanity and catering to the homeless in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district.

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