Prayer That Works

By Anne Graham Lotz   •   May 30, 2013   •   Topics: ,

Recently, my granddaughters came over to watch a movie with me. I put in the DVD, only to have it skip, freeze up and then just stop altogether. When I looked at it more closely, it had some deep scratches. I knew it would never really work, so I threw it out.

A similar thing happened to my printer. It would only print a few words of a document, and then it would spit the paper out. As many adjustments as I made, I couldn’t get it to print a complete page, so I threw it out, too.

And last week I did a load of laundry, put it in the dryer and then heard a loud thumping noise. When I opened the dryer door to find out what was wrong, I found my husband’s cell phone! Knowing that it had gone through the wash cycle and about 15 minutes of the dryer, I didn’t even have to open the phone to know that it would never work again. I threw it out.

Seeing how I often deal with broken things by throwing them out, I started to consider how I treat prayer. Sometimes it’s a struggle to make prayer “work,” but I know I can’t throw it out because it’s much too valuable. I have to fix it. One way I “fix” my broken, ineffective prayers is to use the pattern of prayers in Scripture.

The Apostle Paul was a man whose prayers worked—especially for the church and for God’s people. From Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian church, we can see a clear pattern for our own prayers.


Ephesians 1:15-16

  • What are two things in the Ephesian church for which Paul gave thanks to God?
  • What did he thank God for in the Philippian church? See Philippians 1:3-4. And in the church at Colossae? See Colossians 1:3-4.
  • How do you think this encouraged those for whom Paul was praying?
  • How do you begin your prayers for God’s people, including your pastor, your spouse, your children and your friends? If they could overhear your prayers, would they be encouraged or discouraged?
  • Take time now, and write down phrases or thoughts from the following Scriptures with which you can begin your own prayer that works for believers: 1 Corinthians 1:4-7, 11:2; 2 Corinthians 9:13-15; 1 Thessalonians 1:2-4, 2:13; 2 Thessalonians 1:3-4; Philemon 4-5, 7; and 2 John 4.
  • What difference do you think it would make if the people you are praying for heard you praising God for them?

Ephesians 1:17-18

  • What three things did Paul ask God to give the Ephesian Christians?
  • Why do you think each of these is important?
  • Give phrases from 1 Peter 1:3-9 that you could use to petition God for the same three things on behalf of believers.
  • How did Paul’s petitions for the Ephesians differ from his prayer for the Colossians? What were the similarities? Give phrases from Colossians 1:9-12.
  • What are you asking God to do for Christians you know? List your petitions, then compare them to Paul’s. What adjustments do you need to make in yours?
  • Using phrases from 1 Thessalonians 4-5, what are some other ways you could pray for believers?

Ephesians 1:19-23

  • What example did Paul use to illustrate God’s power?
  • Give other examples of God’s incomparably great power, with a personal application of each, from: Genesis 1:1; Exodus 13:17-14:31; Joshua 3:14-17, 6:1-5, 12-16, 20; Daniel 3:1-30, 6:1-28; Luke 1:26-38, 2:1-7; and Acts 3:1-8.
  • When you pray for others, on what are you relying for effectiveness? Church activities? Programs? Materials? Books?
  • How do the following verses encourage you to rely more on God’s power when you pray? 2 Samuel 22:5-20, Isaiah 40:27-31, John 15:5, 1 Corinthians 1:8-9, Ephesians 3:16-19, 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12, Jude 24-25 and Revelation 19:11-13.

Don’t throw away prayer because you are discouraged when it doesn’t seem to work. Be steadfast! Use Paul’s pattern for more effective prayer.

Instead of complaining or criticizing others, look for something in them for which you can praise God, then let them know what it is. Pray for their spiritual needs, as well as their practical and material needs. Then expect God to hear and answer your prayers according to His power.

©2013 Anne Graham Lotz

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  1. TL says:

    Lord Jesus I bring my son Leland to you. I pray You would exult the power of the cross , the blood of Jesus, your protection and your favor upon his life. I pray by Your resurrection that You would cancel his debt and clear him from charges pending against him for his upcoming court case on October 13th. Shine your face upon Leland and help him to acknowledge You as Lord and Savior. Use this time in Leland’s life to bring him to a saving knowledge of You. I invite you into the situation and for the blood of Jesus to be upon the lawyers, judge, court documents, etc. and pray Your love and grace will prevail and there will be alternative resources provided to Leland that will allow him to rebound and rebuild his life in a positive manner to God.

    1. Jennifer says:

      Dear TL, I just read your prayer request for your son Leland this past fall. Tomorrow is the first day of Spring, I hope our Lord answered your prayers for Leland and that Leland has been able to turn his life around because of God’s great mercy and love and that Leland has accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior. Since I have no idea how things worked out for Leland legally, let me encourage you if Leland had to do jail time. A friend of ours gave his life to Christ while incarcerated. I feel there are people intentionally sent to prison because in doing so He knew that it would be the only way He’d get their attention as well as win their souls. Sometimes it’s His only way. God bless you both, you’ll be in my prayers.

  2. kathy says:

    Prayers is the most miracle thing that I experienced God’s love and watching over me in my entire life. First, please forgive me Lord. I’m thanking you everyday for giving me the most precious baby boy that i have asked you. Now, my baby’s father and his mother are accusing, discriminating, talking down on me and want to keep my son away from me. I tried to forgive and let my baby spend time with them but they are negatively accusing me and being nasty behind my back without me knowing nothing.
    God, please let my son be with me forever.. Lord, please listen to my prayer because I know that you are always the best judge in my Jesus name I pray…Amen…

  3. maria cristina says:

    amo Deus eterno !!!!

  4. maria cristina says:

    amo conversar com o todo criador !!!! Meu amigo…me amor eterno: Deus !!!

  5. Barry says:

    I pray that GOD’S will be done in my life. That he will bless meand my family. That GOD will give me wisdom, revelation andknowledge of his word that I will be a blessing of help to others each and every day.

  6. keegan & cresentha pillay south Africa says:

    pray over my wife and I we want Jesus to work our marriage we need a big change in ourlives we love the lord we put hm 1st no matter wat we do Jesus is in control I believe I love my wife I put her 1st in everything I believe I’m loyal and faithful to my wife I believe I change and follow christ I believe there is ntn impossible to please God pray 4 Good jobs and a blessed life over us Amen thank u and Godbless

  7. Mark says:

    Thank you Father for for not abandoning us .Guide us in pray so that we may have the holy spirit within us at all times. So that we may all accomplish your will loving you and our neighbors

  8. pastor nathaniel slabach says:

    I’ve been newly ordained to the ministry, and I need all the prayers and encouragement you can afford to give me,! I have a heart for lost souls as well as saved souls,!

  9. Regina Harrison says:

    Dear Lord teach me to pray

  10. Modupe Ilori says:

    Lord, teach me to pray.