Prayer is critical to our spiritual and physical well-being. Its necessity and efficacy are well-documented in the Scriptures. Prayers and references to prayer appear in 62 of the 66 books of the Bible.

Being a critical avenue of communication between us and our heavenly Father, it is imperative that we know how to offer acceptable and effective prayers.

Sadly, we seem to fail more in our prayer life than any other aspect.

For a quick check of the health of your prayer life, try responding to the following questions:

  • When was the last time you prayed about your prayer life? When was the last time you beseeched the Lord to teach you to pray?
  • When was the last time you evaluated your approach to praying and the content of your prayers?
  • Are your prayers focused more on asking the Lord to bless you with your material needs? Or are they more about imploring the Lord to help you be a blessing in His kingdom?

If you are shocked with your responses to these questions, you are not alone! I was terrified at my own responses. It made me more acutely aware of critical deficiencies in my prayer life and the overwhelming need for divine guidance of my prayer life. I felt the need to echo that profound request of the disciples: Lord, teach me to pray!

The discourse between Jesus and the disciples (Luke 11:1-4) teaches some critical lessons about our attitude towards praying and prayer. The disciples’ petition: “Lord, teach us to pray…” underscores our acute need for divine guidance in our prayer life. These were men who walked with Jesus. Yet, they recognized a serious void in their prayer life that only the Lord can fill. We can never be too old to be taught to pray.

The Lord’s response to the disciples’ request (Luke 11:2-4) revealed some significant principles of prayer that are critical for acceptable and effective prayers. Our prayer should focus more on seeking divine favor to help us be more pleasing to Him instead of focusing on divine satisfaction of our worldly desires. Our prayers should be moments of coming undone before our holy Father so that we may be reclothed in His righteousness and faithfulness and receive His favor.

These principles outlined in the principles of prayer in Luke 11:2-4 are consistent with the principle of “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). Our prayer should focus on privileging the eternal over the material. We need to deviate from prayers that approach God as an unlimited spiritual vending machine to be approached only when our desires need satisfaction.

The teaching on prayer as recorded in Matthew 6, which is prefaced by a chilling warning about the dangers of our prayers degenerating into a hollow ritual, highlights the need for the guidance of the Holy Spirit in our prayer life.

“And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him” (7-8).

Prayer should be an honest and humbling communication between a deficient creation and an all-sufficient and all-knowing Creator. Our words must proceed from our hearts and convey the contrition of a penitent spirit seeking renewal and revival.

It is all too easy for our prayers to degenerate into meaningless phrases and become a hollow ritual instead of a holy communication and communion between us and our Father in heaven. We need to join Christ in the School of Prayer.

By: Dr. Christopher Nnoduechi

This article appears in the March 2022 issue of Think Magazine.