Learning how to pray effectively is the best gift you can give yourself. Let’s face it. Most prayers fail to deliver the goods. They fail to heal. They fail to prosper. They fail to fix the broken places in our lives. This has always been the case. James, the brother of Jesus, addresses this issues in his epistle: “You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives.” (James 4:3)
What Christians are doing with prayer perplexes me. It’s so unlike what Christ Jesus did and taught. Can you recall an instance of Jesus begging and beseeching God to heal a sick person? Can you cite one instance in the Holy Bible where Christ Jesus gathers people to pray about human mishaps and catastrophes? Yet, Christians do both of these all of the time. Let’s get this prayer business right.
The other day I was sitting on the grounds of the National Cathedral (Washington, DC) reading a book. I watched a man toss peanuts to the squirrels scampering about. One squirrel snatched a peanut and scurried up a tree. Soon, a cluster of squirrels circled the man, hoping and waiting for a peanut. The squirrels quickly gobbled up the peanuts and came back for more. Do you think they were coming back for companionship? Do you think they cared about the man at all? No! These adorable rodents didn’t care about the giver. They cared about the gifts of the giver. Most people don’t seem to care about the realization of God. They want the gifts of God.
James explained why prayer fails. His explanation in the King James Version of the Bible is, “You pray amiss.” He wasn’t talking about the words that are said during prayer. He wasn’t talking about the postures assumed when praying – whether palms were facing toward the ground or skyward. He was talking about motive.
Here is how to boost the effectiveness of your prayers. Before you pray, meditate or contemplate, ask yourself this one question: WHY AM I PRAYING? Face your motives and answer that question honestly? Here are a few more:
- Am I praying to fix a troublesome situation?
- Am I praying to heal my body?
- Am I praying to get something?
- Am I praying to change someone?
- Am I praying for money?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you “pray amiss,” or with “wrong motives.” These prayers are bound to disappoint. Occasionally, I admit, these misdirected prayers seem to work, but in most cases they don’t.
Why are you praying? What is your motive? These are great questions, but the better question is “What constitutes the right motive for effective prayer?” If any of the following is your motive for praying, your prayer(s) will be successful:
- To realize the true nature of your identity
- To know via direct Revelation the nature of God
- To experience God’s Presence
“But how will my problems get solved if I don’t pray about them?” is the question many ask. Although you are not praying for health, money, success, peace or happiness, they happen as a result of right-focused prayer. Why? Because right-focused prayer reveals that you were never sick. It reveals that you never lacked happiness, prosperity, peace or success.
Right prayer reveals that you are always in your right place, doing the right thing in the right way. Right prayer reveals that you and Perfection IS ONE.
It’s no surprise that those who experience the fulfilling joy of right-focused prayer suddenly exclaim, “Now I see why Christ said ‘seek first the kingdom of God and all things will be added.'” They experience the thing they weren’t praying for as the added thing – the thing added to a greater realization of God.
All of this is to say, don’t be afraid to not pray about “it.” Don’t fear that if you don’t pray about “it,” nothing is being done. Leave “it” alone, and you will discover that there was never an “it” to pray about. GOD IS ALL.