Day 10

Effective Prayer

from the 1, 2 & 3 John reading plan


1 John 5:14-21, Deuteronomy 29:29, Luke 18:1-8, John 3:16-17

BY Sharon Hodde Miller

About ten years ago, I was struggling with gossip, a sin I couldn’t seem to kick, no matter how hard I tried. I had become convicted about it after living with a friend who didn’t gossip at all. Like, at all. She held her tongue and guarded confidences with patience and incredible grace. She was a wonderful example to me, and her integrity highlighted the cracks in my own. So, I decided to change.

At first, I simply tried to gossip less. I’d made up my mind and thought that would be enough. It wasn’t. Then, I decided to “fast” from gossip. Now, I know that’s not how fasting works; we aren’t supposed to fast from things we shouldn’t be doing in the first place. Even so, making the concerted effort really seemed to help. I limited the fast to forty days, cutting out gossip TV shows and magazines, and just trying to be more intentional. I took it one day at a time.

During those forty days, I was able to avoid gossip. And for the first time, I felt a sense of victory over this area of my life. Unfortunately, it didn’t stick. A decade later, I still fall prey to this sin. I still spread rumors under the guise of concern, I still ask for personal details I don’t need to hear, and I freely discuss the personal lives of famous people. I don’t like that I do it, but I do it nonetheless. I’ve come to realize I’ll struggle with it the rest of my life.

Ongoing struggles with sin are one of the great mysteries of the Christian life. On the one hand, following Christ means we put on our identity of Christ. In Him, we are set free from our sinful nature, and it no longer exercises unbridled power over us (Ephesians 4:22–24). On the other hand, we still sin. Even when we don’t want to sin, we do (Romans 7:15–16). In Christ we are victorious over our flesh, but we still do battle against it.

John alludes to this struggle, stating that we are victorious and should not continue to sin (1John 5:18), but he also encourages believers to pray for others while they’re in the midst of sinning. At first, it seems like John is contradicting himself. But what John is referring to is the tension between the “already, but not yet” of being a Christian. This concept means we have one foot in eternity and one foot here on earth. We already taste the victories of Christ’s resurrection, but we don’t yet possess them completely. We will continue to struggle with sin, but it will no longer define us.

This already-not-yet state of being can be frustrating, especially when you’re tired of struggling with sin. But even in that, God does not abandon us to struggle alone. We always have the help of prayer, which is why John encourages us to ask for anything “according to his will” (1John 5:14). When we ask God to deliver us from sin, He promises to hear us, and help us. He is the true God and our High Priest, and we can trust Him with our weaknesses (1John 5:20; Hebrews 4:15).

The struggle with our flesh is real, but take heart: God isn’t finished with us yet. We are already “in the true one—that is, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life” (1John 5:20). He is the only way to eternal life, and we are only just beginning to taste the fullness that awaits (Philippians 3:20).

Post Comments (82)

82 thoughts on "Effective Prayer"

  1. DOROTHY says:

    Tamara it’s not an inability to trust that God is a loving God because I have been where your daughter is an I am and have been a Christian all my life. What it is is an imbalance in brain waves and an inability to know how to control the imbalance. Once I received helped my thoughts changed and I have not had problems since.

  2. PamC says:

    Thank you Rebekah C. Your comments were clarifying. And thank you Churchmouse for reminding me that praying for everyone to have life in Jesus is a good way to remind myself that He is God & I am not!

  3. Margaret Lindsey says:

    So grateful Jesus died for my sin so that there is no need to focus

  4. DOROTHY says:

    I can remember my father saying “God hears all prayer but He may not answer all prayers the way we want Him to or as fast as we want Him to but He does answer all prayers.” My father was a Christian and knew the Bible fairly well. I can remember him praying for me at times and then I can remember, my last memory of being with him, when he was in the hospital. I asked him if he wanted me to read the Bible to him, thinking every hospital has Bibles in them, he of course said yes. Well the hospital had the New Testament with Psalm. When I told him that is what I had to read from he was a little disappointed but he told me what he wanted to read. I read Psalm 23 and 100 and several from the New Testament, as I read each one he recited them with me. He stumbled a little but all in all he did good. Right before I left I said a prayer, nothing like what he would say over me but it put a smile on his face.
    Yesterday many of you commented about wanting to help loved ones who have strayed from Christ to return. Well I’m here to say leave it all in God and Christ’s hands and just pray about and continue to live your life the Christian way you live it. My niece who died earlier this month had strayed from Christ after my oldest son died, well about a month or so ago she reaffirmed her faith at her boy friend’s church in West Virginia. There is hope for everyone and all we have to do is pray.

  5. Robert says:

    “Satan has two lies. Before we sin, ‘It is a trifle. It won’t matter.’ After we sin, “This is awful. How could God forgive you?'” (paraphrased from Robert M. McCheyne).

  6. CeeGee says:

    Quick question: I love SRT and I like to respond with an ‘amen’, etc., to some of the comments but when I use the reply option below a comment my reply shows up in the main thread. How do I fix that? THANK YOU ALL for so freely sharing your faith and hope. Be safe and blessed!

  7. Traci Gendron says:

    Pat I experienced being gossiped about. It was so hurtful. I hate to admit, but especially from my church friends. And yet, I have gossiped myself. Over and over. My friend left flowers on my porch with a very heartfelt note. I will never forget that. I like what your mother said, “The wise old owl, the more he heard the less he spoke, the less he spoke the more he heard. Bless all of you.

  8. CeeGee says:

    Elene, links to daily Scriptures are located just below the lesson title. Hope this helps!

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