“The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them” (Ps. 34:17).
I used to believe that the secret of the power of prayer lies in protracted prayer. The more I pray the more blessing I receive. Did not Jesus pray for long hours, sometimes the whole night (Lu. 6:12)? Also, I believed the secret of the power of prayer lies in fasting. Did not Jesus say, “This kind can come out only by prayer and fasting?” (Mk. 9:29) I read numerous books on prayer and some on fasting and my conviction grew even more. Hence, my prime focus was either on protracted prayer or fasting prayer. I suppose there are many fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord who believe the same.
Not until later did I learn that I was wrong. Of course, there is a significant room for protracted and fasting prayer, but there is an important prerequisite for a prayer, protracted prayer or even fasting prayer to be effective! What then is the secret of the power of prayer? It is written, “Moses and Aaron were among His priests, Samuel was among those who called on His name; they called on the LORD and He answered them” (Ps. 99:6). We know the wonders God did through Moses and Samuel. They called on the LORD and He answered their prayers in a wonderful way. What could be the secret?
Again it is written in Ps. 99:7, “He spoke to them from the pillar of cloud; they kept His statutes and the decrees He gave them.” We learn here that the secret of the power of prayer is obedience to God’s word. God is greatly pleased with the prayer of an upright man. He eagerly listens to those who devotedly listen to Him. “The Holy One,” said the Rabbis, “yearns for the prayers of the righteous.” Is it not written, “The LORD is far from the wicked but He hears the prayer of the righteous” (Pro. 15:29 )? Furthermore, James emphatically said, “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (Jas. 5:16 ). God can do anything in and through a man who commits himself to obey Him in everything.
Coming to Jesus’ prayer life, we know how long He prayed and fasted. So, is that the major reason He was heard? The Holy Bible says, “During the days of Jesus' life on earth, He offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the One who could save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverent submission” (Heb. 5:7) Jesus Himself said, “By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please Myself but Him who sent Me” (Jn. 5:31). While He was desperately hungry, He said to His disciples, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work” (Jn. 4:34 ).
Jesus’ whole life on earth was a life of obedience and submission to His Father’s will and therefore God was pleased to hear His prayers. His protracted and fasting prayers were done by living in obedience to His Father. How often we bypass the path of obedience and endeavor to pray and fast! Sometimes we wonder why our prayers are not powerful and even doubt the promises of God! Did He not say, “You may ask Me for anything in My name, and I will do it” (Jn. 14:14 )? Now there is a great danger when we read a particular verse in isolation while neglecting to observe the teachings of the whole Scripture in its totality. For it is also written, “Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from Him anything we ask, because we obey His commands and do what pleases Him” (1 Jn. 3:21-22).
Finally, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, when we read carefully the entire Bible we learn that the whole emphasis is on living an obedient life. Obedience to God is the pathway of blessing and a stronghold of an effective prayer life. Many times it is easier for us to pray and offer a sacrifice; however, the Holy Bible exhorts, “To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice” (Pro. 21:3). May we repent of any disobedience and seek His grace upon us to live a life holy and pleasing to Him and our prayers will be a fragrant offering to God. Take heed of Pro. 28:9, “If anyone turns a deaf ear to the law, even his prayers are detestable”.
“Obedience is the great factor in our whole relationship to God” — Andrew Murray."