Prayer is something God exhorts us to do “without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Since so much of our lives ought to be wrapped up in prayer of some form, it makes sense that we learn all we can about how to be effective in prayer. God is glorified when we get results in prayer, not when we merely “clock up hours”. After all, if our testimony is that we prayed for day and years but very little happened in response, that makes us look religious and pious perhaps, but it makes God look bad. God is glorified when we bear much fruit (John 15:8) and when His promises come to pass in our lives.
For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us (2 Corinthians 1:20).
So we are contending for results. We want to get answers to our prayers. And mere repetition of prayers might get us nowhere according to Jesus. There is such a thing as “vain repetitions”. Something is vain if it doesn’t work.
“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.” (Matthew 6:7-8)
When we enter into prayer we enter into conflict. When Daniel prayed for the purposes of God for Israel, he had to persist for 21 days. At the end of this time the angel Gabriel came to him with an important message. Daniel was also told at that time that his prayers were heard from the day he began praying. Yet the answer did not come through for another 21 days? Why? We are told that the angels that came with the answer had to fight demonic powers in order to get through. Interesting. Could this explain in part the need for perseverance in prayer today?
Prayer needs to be done with the help of the Holy Spirit to be effective. Prayer is working with God in order to see the Kingdom of God come to earth – that is, things that pertain to righteousness, peace (shalom) and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17).
When we pray for these things, we will encounter resistance from the demonic realm. This is why prayer is not always pleasant – even though there is pleasure in prayer because of the involvement of the Holy Spirit. Even while we connect with the Holy Spirit, we will find ourselves having to engage with spiritual forces that seek to create discomfort, lack of peace and problems.
The reason we don’t always get answers, or get them quickly, is because of the spiritual conflict we are in.