2. “AS LONG AS IT TAKES” PRAYERS
Mark Batterson wrote in one of his books how we need to stop praying ASAP (as soon as possible) prayers, and instead start praying ALAIT (as long as it takes) prayers. This is biblical.
There’s nothing wrong with asking God to move quickly (David prayed this all the time in the Psalms). There is a clear precedent from Scripture that God not only works through our prayers, but He is also works on us as we pray—and this often means it takes time, patience and persistence to see the answer come through.
The book of Daniel contains a powerful illustration of Daniel praying and fasting for three weeks, until an answer is given. The angel of the Lord tells him that as soon as Daniel started to pray, the answer had been given from heaven, but there was a war in the heavenlies that caused it to take longer to arrive. We often have no clue how much God is at work through our prayers!
Jesus actually taught us to pray like this. In Luke 18, Jesus tells his disciples a story “to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” He goes on to explain the power of persistent prayer. God wants us to always pray, and not give up! Is there a prayer you’ve been praying, that you’ve recently given up hope on? Keep on praying! Jesus wants you to. He wouldn’t have given us this story if he didn’t.
We often want instant results from God, but God wants patience and endurance from us. It is difficult to overestimate the biblical importance of patience and endurance in maturing our faith. The Bible has a lot to say about this (see 2 Peter 1:4-8; Romans 5:3-5; James 1:2-4).
3. “MY GOD CAN, BUT EVEN IF HE DOESN’T” PRAYERS
One of the powerful stories from the Bible is Shadrach, Meshac and Abendego in the fiery furnace for not bowing down to King Nebuchadnezzar’s idol. They miraculously survived, but nearly as surprising is what these men of faith taught us before they were thrown in: “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:16-18).
This can super-charge your prayer life! I know my God is able to do the impossible, but even if he doesn’t, I will serve him and follow Him only! This kind of praying offers supreme submission and faith in God, and he is greatly honored by this kind of praying.
A similar way to pray this is like my older brother Jon prayed as he dealt with a serious sickness in his 20s—”either way I win.” He was praying for God to heal him, but he knew that eventually he would be fully restored and given a glorified body in heaven someday, so truly all of us who trust in Christ can say as we pray, “either way I win.”
4. “BLESSING, NOT CURSING” PRAYERS
The Apostle Paul was badly persecuted throughout his gospel ministry. He had people who would follow him around to try to stir up dissension, harm him and try to shut him down from preaching about Jesus.
So it might shock you that it was Paul who told us, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse” (Romans 12:14).
This can super-charge your prayer life: Forgive those who’ve sinned against you, and pray God’s blessings and mercy on those who’ve persecuted you! Not only will God’s presence cover you as you do this, but these kinds of prayers honor God greatly.
Even your greatest enemy, or someone who has hurt you deeply—forgive as often as needed, and pray God’s blessing and mercy. I’m sure Paul didn’t try to spend time with those who wanted to harm him, but he still, with God’s strength, forgave and prayed blessings on them. Do this, and God will move on your behalf. (Read more about this in Romans 12:17-21.)
Our ability to let things go and bless others will keep unforgiveness from hindering our prayer life. Even how we treat our spouse and family affects our prayers (see 1 Peter 3:7).