How to Pray Effectively
“Please remember what you told your servant Moses: ‘If you are unfaithful to me, I will scatter you among the nations. But if you return to me and obey my commands and live by them … I will bring you back to the place I have chosen for my name to be honored.’” (Nehemiah 1:8-9 NLT, second edition)
Here are four secrets to answered prayer from the life of Nehemiah:
1. Base your request on God’s character. Pray like you know God will answer you: “I’m expecting you to answer this prayer because of who you are. You are a faithful God. You are a great God. You are a loving God. You are a wonderful God. You can handle this problem, God!"
2. Confess the sins of which you’re aware. After Nehemiah bases his prayer on who God is, he confesses his sins. He says, “I confess that we have sinned against you. Yes, even my own family and I have sinned! We have sinned terribly by not obeying the commands, decrees, and regulations that you gave us” (Nehemiah 1:6b-7 NLT, second edition). It wasn’t Nehemiah’s fault that Israel went into captivity. He wasn’t even born when it happened; he was most likely born in captivity. Yet he’s including himself in the national sins. He says, “I’ve been a part of the problem.”
3. Claim the promises of God. Nehemiah prays to the Lord, saying, “Please remember what you told your servant Moses” (Nehemiah 1:8a). Can you imagine saying “remember” to God? Nehemiah reminds God of a promise he made to the nation of Israel. In effect, he prays, “God, you warned through Moses that if we were unfaithful, we would lose the land of Israel. But you also promised that if we repent, you’d give it back to us.”
Does God have to be reminded? No. Does he forget what he’s promised? No. Then why do we do this? Because it helps us remember what God has promised.
4. Be very specific in what you ask for. If you want specific answers to prayer, then make specific requests. If your prayers consist of general requests, how will you know if they’re answered?
Talk It Over
- What is a request you’ve recently made of God but for which you haven’t received an answer?
- Pray again for that request, and follow the steps above. How does your prayer change?
- What are the promises of God that you need to claim?
This devotional © 2019 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.