What is prayer?
Simply put, prayer is defined as reverent worship, fellowship with God, asking, or exercising dominion and authority.
The Lord’s prayer
Jesus’ teaching on prayer gives us an overview of how to pray summarised as follows:
1. Pray to the Father
Praying to the Father denotes intimacy in addressing God. Jesus teaches us how to address God. Not as one we cannot access or commune with, but as one we can intimately open up to in reverence and honor. Here, he teaches us how to pray effectively, echoing His teaching later in Matthew 6:5-6, where He talks about praying in secret.
2. Pray with authority and dominion
When a believer becomes born again, they become part of the Kingdom of God. The laws that govern this Kingdom enable every person who abides by them to walk in authority and dominion. This means whatever one decrees and declares, that thing shall be established here on earth with heaven’s agreement.
3. Pray His will
The character and heart of God are found in His Word. The bible is particular about prayer according to God’s will. He explains His will regarding health, prosperity, finances, etc., hence destroying the myths people have created about God’s character.
4. Pray with thanksgiving
Thanking God through everything may be one of the hardest things to do when you pray. When you are anxious, hurting, discouraged, overwhelmed, or on the verge of giving up, the bible tells us to rejoice always and give thanks every time. Here is why everything we see is not as it seems. God’s thoughts and ways are higher than ours. And He reassures us that when we think of anything, He exceeds it.
Other parts of scripture go into detail on how to pray effectively giving us a full understanding of prayer protocols.
5. Pray fervently without ceasing
The bible encourages us never to stop praying, no matter what the circumstance is. God says the passionate prayer of a righteous man has great power and brings results.
6. Pray with boldness
We are not to bargain with God but to be direct. Jesus’ prayer model doesn’t show beggarly prayers but bold confidence. God encourages us to come boldly before His throne of grace, and not in shame, not with our head in our hands, no.
7. Pray and fast
In addressing one of the disciples’ futile attempts to cast out a demon, Jesus explains to them how some demonic attacks require fasting to overcome. Sometimes prayer alone is not enough. It needs to be coupled with fasting before exercising dominion over the kingdom of darkness.
8. Pray in faith
Faith is the foundation of every effective prayer. The bible tells us that without it, you will not get the desired result. Whoever comes to God must believe that He is, and He rewards them that diligently seek Him. Even if your faith is small, the presence of faith when you pray guarantees success.
9. Pray in agreement
Another principle to prayer that produces results is praying in unity. This is one of the keys to accessing the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus Christ gives us the guarantee that whatever we declare or ask for that thing shall be done.
What makes prayer invalid?
Praying the word of God is one of the most effective ways to pray. But if we have followed all these principles on how to pray, what makes our prayers not work? Apart from God’s will, in particular circumstances, one of the things that make our prayers of non-effect are the philosophies and traditions we have put in place. We limit God on what He can do, how He can do it, and when He should do it. Sometimes because of ignorance, we cannot tell whether we are praying the right way or not. Whilst what we ask for may be noble and good, sometimes the intention accompanying prayer determines whether or not we receive answers to those prayers.
Does God answer prayers immediately?
The part of the Lord’s prayer where Jesus says give us “this day” our daily bread shows that God answers prayer immediately. Here is something outstanding. Jesus teaches us here that when we ask for a need to be met today, God can meet it today. He never said give us tomorrow our today’s bread. No. What we need today should manifest today. One needs to believe in God’s willingness and ability to answer immediately, without disregarding all other prayer principles. Now that we have established God’s willingness to answer prayers fast let us move on to the secret.
Praying when under spiritual attack
But what if you do not feel like it? How do you pray then? How can you still get a 100% success rate? Maybe you have done everything you know to do, but there seem to be some deeply rooted challenges in your life that seem not to barge. How then do you pray when under spiritual attack? Jesus teaches us to watch and pray so that we do not fall into temptation. A spiritual attack is when your flesh is weak, but your spirit is willing. Watching is defined as discerning the natural and/or spiritual environment, discerning the situation, or discerning the time.
Whilst the secret I am about to reveal works every time, you cannot use it out of the context of prayer principles mentioned previously. God gives us details of what protocols prayer follows to receive an answer. The secret is to attack the enemy before he attacks. This allows you to hit the enemy when he is most vulnerable and least expects it by making prayer deposits into your future. Jesus did this himself. He shows us that whenever He ministered healing or cast out demons, he did not pray at that moment. Instead, He exercised authority. He prayed early on that day or days and years prior.
Praying in the Spirit at the midnight hour
This prayer principle is one I have personally used for more than 7 years with 100% success every time. While there is a lot of misunderstanding on praying in tongues, the bible tells us here. When the Holy Spirit was released on the day of Pentecost, all men who received Him received power. That is the promise to every believer. The Holy Spirit is our advantage on this earth and especially in spiritual warfare. A biblical example of this is with Paul and Silas.
We are told that ‘About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a violent earthquake, which shook the prison to its foundations. At once, all the doors opened, and the chains fell off all the prisoners. ‘ Acts 16:25-26 GNT. It happened so suddenly that God loosed their chains, and the prison gates opened. Here is why it worked for them and why it will work for you too.
Praying in the spirit
‘And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. ‘ Romans 8:26-27 NLT
Because of the limitations we have as human beings, the Holy Spirit is our help. Naturally, at midnight, our minds and bodies demand rest; therefore, the Holy Spirit helps us pray. The Holy Spirit knows the mind of God, and therefore He can intercede on our behalf so that whatever He prays is the will of God.
The bible also tells us that He (the Holy Ghost) knows the future. Meaning He can pray on our behalf for a future we do not know of. And because we cannot see what happens in the realm of the spirit, we are unable to fight principalities, powers, and agents of darkness that have been assigned against our lives, except if we engage the Spirit of God.
What happens at midnight in the spiritual realm?
The midnight hour, which is signified by the time between 12 am, and 3 am, is a time of great power. We see in the bible the events that took place at this how. From God killing the firstborn in the land of Egypt to Samson taking hold of the enemy’s gates. Because everything, has its time and a season, the midnight hour represents a time of transition from one day to another.
If you understand the biblical mysteries and symbolism of colors, objects, and numbers, you will understand that times and seasons are among the many mysteries the Holy Spirit reveals to believers. To have a clear understanding of the activities that happen in the spiritual realm, it is important to look at activities in the natural.
Midnight is a time of deep sleep. This means our spirit man is most vulnerable in the physical but very receptive in the spiritual realm. You will notice that this is a time when men have dreams. It’s a time when God speaks and gives instructions to his children. In Job 33:15, the bible tells us that “In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls upon men while slumbering on their beds, then He opens the ears of men, and seals their instructions.”
However, midnight is also a time of spiritual wickedness. We see how the rate of crimes is highest at this time. It’s a time of prostitution, murder, theft, rape, etc. The same happens in the realm of the spirit. The bible tells us that while men are sleeping, the enemy comes to sow seeds of evil. This explains why most people often experience sexual dreams during this time. This explains why people have dreams of things being stolen from them at this time. It also explains why nightmares are more prevalent at this time.
Praying at the midnight hour
In Luke’s account of the Lord’s prayer, Jesus gives an interesting illustration that reveals how to pray, a prayer secret no one is talking about. The bible says, ‘And Jesus said to his disciples, “Suppose one of you should go to a friend’s house at midnight and say, ‘Friend, let me borrow three loaves of bread. A friend of mine who is on a trip has just come to my house, and I don’t have any food for him!’ And suppose your friend should answer from inside, ‘Don’t bother me! The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed.
I can’t get up and give you anything.’ Well, what then? I tell you that even if he will not get up and give you the bread because you are his friend, yet he will get up and give you everything you need because you are not ashamed to keep on asking. And so I say to you: Ask, and you will receive; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For those who ask will receive, and those who seek will find, and the door will be opened to anyone who knocks. ‘ Luke 11:5-10 GNT
What Jesus is explaining here is simple. Because He gives this illustration whilst teaching His disciples how to pray, we are assured that this is something that relates to us. Jesus’ teaching is referencing God and us. By and large, when we go to God in faith, praying passionately, with thanksgiving, or when we exercise authority by declaring His will persistently, the door will open. It’s guaranteed. If you have done this, then you know what I am talking about. If not, I challenge you today to activate your faith by applying this one principle to pray and watch as your life is transformed suddenly.
If you need to plan or journal your prayers, or are looking for prayer points here are my four recommended prayer resources, readily available on Amazon:
- Prayer Journal for Women
- Prayer Journal for Men
- Fervent: A Woman’s Battle Plan to Serious, Specific, and Strategic Prayer By Priscilla Shirer
- One-minute prayers for men