Here are five characteristics of an effectual and powerful prayer.
A Clear Conscience
David knew that if he regarded sin in his heart, God would not hear him (Psalm 66:18), so we must come to God in prayer with a clean conscience (James 5:16). We cannot hide what He already knows. David asked, “Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.”
God is glorified by His creation, and it is obvious that “the heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (Psalm 19:1). So if the creation declares God’s glory, can we do anything less? God says, “My glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols” (Isaiah 42:8), and surely “I will not yield my glory to another” (Psalm 48:11b). That means He won’t share it with me, and if I try to rob God of His glory, then I am failing to do what I was created for and what even the creation does.
God’s Will and Word
In the so-called Lord’s Prayer, Jesus tells them to include the Father’s will being done on earth as it is already being done in heaven (Matt. 6:10). Do you believe that God’s will is already being done in heaven? I would imagine it is–100%. As for here on earth, we can pray for His will to be done here and to make our will what His will is, and what God’s Word says, we will say.
Praise and Thanksgiving
God was believed to inhabit the praises of His people Israel (Psalm 22:3), so why would He not also inhabit ours? If we are praising God, we are giving Him what He is due. If we are thanking God, we are giving Him what He is due. No wonder the psalmist writes “let them praise your great and awesome name– he is holy” (Psalm 99:3).
God resists the proud of heart and will only extend His grace to the humble (James 4:6). So approaching the throne of grace, praying in Jesus’ name and for His glory, we must come humbly and with a contrite spirit. God lifts up those of low estate, but those lifted up only have one way to go, which isn’t up! Speaking to God in a deep, holy, reverential, and respectful way draws us closer to Him since He is nearest to those who are small in their own eyes.
Prayer is hard work; at least it is for me. I get all sorts of fiery darts from the enemy, but I know that I must have a clear conscience, I must seek for God’s glory, I must make my will the same as God’s, I must praise Him and thank Him on a daily basis, and I must come humbly before the throne room of heaven. Only then is it possible because of our Mediator, our Great High Priest, Jesus Christ.