Prayer (1)

Course:  The Importance of Effective Prayer

Lesson 1 Introduction

Title:  Effective Prayer.


Text:  James 5:16b-18 '…The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.  Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.'


Introduction:  Elijah's power in prayer.

·        Elijah was no different from us.  He had the same feelings and emotions.  He was mighty in prayer because he was

a)     led by the Spirit.

b)     empowered by the Spirit

c)      righteous before God


·        The scripture says that the same prayer resources are available to the church.  If we believe this then the prayer meeting will be of great importance, and filled with excitement.  But this is usually not the case. What is the problem?

a)     Unbelief so that we do not expect God to answer prayer

b)     Worldliness that desensitises us from the leading of the Holy Spirit and prevents us from knowing the will of the Lord.

c)      Selfishness that seeks self gratification instead of seeking first the Kingdom of God.  Matthew 6:33.


·        The first objective of prayer must always be the Glory of God not our individual needs. If our own interests become the central factor of our prayer life we will not see much happen through prayer.  Prayer must always be built upon the glory of God. The prayer of Elijah began a time of great hardship not only for himself but also for the nation.  Elijah did not pray for his life to be prosperous.  He prayed that God would be glorified in the land.  His own interests were irrelevant but God took care of his needs by supernatural manifestations.


Introductory Story:  The last picture taken by the Voyager space probe.

When the voyager was far out in space, the camera was turned around to take one last picture of earth.  The picture showed the earth in the distance.  It was just a tiny spot in the distance. 

Hundreds of years ago people believed that the earth was the centre of the universe but now it is seen that the earth is nothing more than a speck in the vast expanse of space.  Isaiah the prophet wrote: Isaiah 40:15a  'Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance:'

The affairs on earth are important because they concern the eternal plan and purpose of God.


In prayer - our needs are not the all-important concern.  It is the glory of God that is the central concern.  All other concerns revolve around this.


Testimony of George Muller.

George Muller prayed daily for the needs of the orphanages that God led him to build.  His prayer life has become an example of prayer.  His first concern in all things was the glory of God not the needs of the orphanages.


Main Points:

Principles of effective prayer

1.      Under the leadership of the Holy Spirit. 

·        Elijah was energised by the Holy Spirit.  James 5:16b '…The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.'  Effectual Greek 'energeo' (to put forth power) - the energising power of the Holy Spirit.  The power of Elijah's prayers - in the Holy Spirit. 


·        Elijah was moved by the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit knows the plan and purpose of God.  Elijah prayed and it did not rain for three years and six months.  It did not rain again until Elijah prayed again at Mount Carmel. This was a prayer for a specific time.  Elijah knew the time and he prayed accordingly.  To pray in the Spirit we must have understanding of the times. 1 Chronicles 12:32  'And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do; the heads of them were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their commandment.'  The Lord speaks to those who have understanding - Esther 1:13  'Then the king said to the wise men, which knew the times, (for so was the king’s manner toward all that knew law and judgment:'


·        The Holy Spirit knows how we should pray.  Romans 8:26 'Likewise the Spirit also helps our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.'  The Holy Spirit must be in control of our prayers.


2.      Under the Lordship of Christ. 

·        Elijah was righteous before God.  He walked in close relationship with the Lord.  1 Kings 17:1 'And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.'  Elijah could only say 'before whom I stand' because he had a close relationship with the Lord.


·        Elijah was obedient to the Lord.  He had power with God because he obeyed the Lord.  He was not praying his own desires.  He was praying in accordance with the moving of the Holy Spirit.  He was fulfilling God's will, His eternal plan and purpose.  1 Kings 19:10  'And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.'


·        The Holy Spirit is given to those who obey the Lord.  Acts 5:32  'And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God has given to them that obey him.'  We need the Holy Spirit to pray effectively and the Holy Spirit is given to those who are obedient.


3.      Elijah prayed with authority and power. 

·        He had authority because He was under authority.  He was led by the Holy Spirit and obedient to the word of the Lord.  The centurion understood authority - he had authority because he was under authority.  Matthew 8:8-9  'The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.  For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goes; and to another, Come, and he comes; and to my servant, Do this, and he does it.'


·        Elijah had authority '…and he prayed earnestly' (James 5:17b).  In Greek this literally means 'he prayed with prayer'.  Prayer provided Elijah with a means to call upon the Lord.  He used prayer to pray.  This prayer avails much - has power with God. Having a right relationship and coming in the power of the Holy Spirit is not enough.  It is also necessary to pray. If we believe God's word then we will understand the power of prayer.  Jesus said  'Therefore I say unto you, What things soever you desire, when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you shall have them.' (Mark 11:24).




There are principles for effective prayer that can be seen in the ministry of Elijah.  If we want to have an effective prayer life we need to be:

1)     …under the leadership of the Holy Spirit.  We will only have authority when we are under His authority.

2)     …walking in obedience to the word of the Lord.  We must be in close relationship with the Lord.

3)     …diligent in prayer. We will only see prayer answered by praying.