What is the formula for prayer?

Question: “Are there proper formulas that will bring us prosperity, health, and our hearts desires when we pray?”

Bible Answers

The following explains why our prayers are often not answered when we use a formula rather than obedience to God’s directions like Jesus.

“Word: "I am the way, the truth and the life" (John 14:6).

Wisdom: Jesus is God's "way." There is no other way to the things of God but through Christ. Jesus is the "Truth" and there is no truth apart from Him.  We need to always remember this!

Many Christians try to craft Christianity into a set of "secret formulas". Christianity is in Jesus, not a method. Jesus is God's only formula for the solution to man's problems!

Many preachers teach that the method you get things from God (whether financial blessings, healings, etc.) is by finding a promise in the word, claiming it in faith, thanking God for it, confessing the Word over any doubts that come and holding on patiently until the promise is manifested. I have tried to do this many many times (and will continue to do so) and probably you have also.  While this approach is often effective, it can also be viewed as man’s formula for receiving from God.

Rick Joyner wrote in 2010 in his "Prepared for the Times",

"I have been a Christian for about 40 years, and I have witnessed many things that lead to the victory or the defeat of Christians. I have watched Christians who were told to "Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord" in a matter, trust Him and do this, and see a dramatic victory. I have too often seen these same Christians try to use this strategy in everything else and have lived lives of constant defeat from then on. After the first victory these were not following the Lord anymore, but a formula. Witchcraft is based on formulas - Christianity is following a person. Victory comes from following the Lord."

Christians have through the centuries developed their many formulas (The Catholic Church is an outstanding example of how we can focus on formulas). The problem with formulas, however, is that they tend to cause us to keep our eyes on the formulas and not on the "Way, the Truth and the Life."

Evangelicals have developed formulas. For instance, we have a formula for salvation: bow your head, lift your hand, come up to the altar, pray this prayer after me, etc. There are no examples in the Bible of any preacher doing this, yet this is the current formula. It may be a formula that works, but we cannot unequivocally say, "This is how you do it." Yet, this method of evangelism is quite sacred in many churches today.

Pentecostals have developed their formulas too, like: "This is how you receive the Holy Spirit. Do this and then that, and then the other thing." In some churches they'll tell you, "Start praising God until you speak in tongues." In others, they'll tell you to just "Tarry in prayer until the Spirit falls on you." Many others will tell you to, "Step out in faith and speak whatever the Holy Spirit gives you."

“I once met a man who had lost his home. He told me that he had been attending a church where they taught him to believe God for big things. So, he followed their advice and bought a lovely home with a swimming pool. The only problem was: he bought way above his means of income. He was losing the house over it. In despair, he went to his pastor for counsel.

His pastor asked, "Tell me the steps you took when you bought the home." He carefully related all the "faith" things that He had done. When he had finished his list, the pastor glibly shot back:

"There's your problem! You didn't bind the strong man!"

How absurd! Diluting Christianity down to an easily definable list of magic words to speak is what cults do! It's the "abracadabra," "open sesame" formulas, witchcraft incantations and occult recipes. It's like secret rituals and inside knowledge which cults and other legalistic works systems boast of. (The Mormon church has a very secret Temple ritual for those who get married for all eternity.  It involves special underwear.  Need I say more?).  All these things are just the opposite of the life of faith, trust and obedience.

The thought that Jesus couldn't overrule a "strong man" demon who was keeping a Christian from losing his home; just because he had forgotten to say, "I bind the strong man!" would be funny; if it wasn't so tragic and so typical of many Christian's misconceptions of how the things of God operate.

My sister told me about the time she and a group of young people drove by a Palm Reader's Business. They decided to pray against it. So they started cursing it and binding Satan's powers. Shortly thereafter, the business burned down. One of the young men in the car that night after hearing of their "success" told my sister,

"I didn't know it was that easy!"

(Ha, ha!) He thought they had discovered the magic formula for closing down every Palm Reader in Los Angeles! Well, for one Palm Reader a drive-by prayer might work. But, for another Palm Reader it may take fasting. For another, it might take leading her to Christ. For another, it might take years of prayer. For some it may take the personal judgment of God.

Many Christian denominations have been birthed through the centuries because of a genuine move of God. Those moves of God were often earmarked by unusual demonstrations, manifestations, and miraculous workings of God: everything from falling under the power, laughing, sharking, seeing visions, entering trances, prophecies, tongues, calls to holy living, etc.

During each succeeding move of God, with little exception, most of the current existent denominations rejected that new move of God. Why? Because it veered from the "formula" that they had followed for so many years: a formula that had worked so well for them.

Formulas: our flesh prefers them over intimacy with God, paying the price of prevailing pray or the fight of faith and patience. By nature, we feel most comfortable with easy to follow instructions and rules to follow. Don't get stuck in a rut because something worked in the past and expect it to work the same every time.

Don't be married to methods!

Don't assume that the formula of some man of God which worked for him will work for you. It may inspire and help: but find out what the Lord is saying about it all: that is, saying to you personally!

Peter said to Jesus, 'But Lord, what about this man?' Jesus said to him, "If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me" (John 21:21, 22).

Don't worry about God's plan for someone else, what other men may be doing or what worked for them. Like Jesus said, "What is that to you?' Instead, just make sure you obey Jesus advice, "You follow me."

To water down the workings of the almighty God to pat, simplistic formulas that are supposed to work consistently for all or to legalistically insist that, "This is how you do it" is historically and scripturally easily disproven.

Jesus used many healing methods in the Bible. To a blind man, He took sputum and clay and anointed his eyes. To a handicapped man, he said, "Rise, take up your bed and walk." To some, He said, 'Your faith has made you whole." For others, He cast out a demon causing the illness.

God used different formulas also for Israel's wars. In one battle, He told them to "Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord." Another time, He told them to march around the walls 7 times before invading the city. He forbid them from attacking some heathen peoples, but then instructed them to kill every man, woman, child and animal in other heathen cities.

See what a mistake it would be to assume that just because you, for instance, got healed 10 years ago a certain way, that that is how, of necessity, you will be healed now? It would also be a mistake to assume that just by dancing around the house; a battle would be won quickly because it happened that way the last time you danced by faith during a battle.

Yes, keep on dancing around the house! Praise; Quote; Command; Rebuke; Confess: Do all these scriptural things, of course! But never let the Word become the "letter that kills"  by performing it in the energy and pride of the flesh:

Who also has made us able ministers of the New Testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter kills, but the spirit gives life (2 Cor. 3:6).

Legalistic "letter" formulas, performed in rote like some Indian doing a rain dance to try to get God to do something "kills" faith. But, walking in the Spirit, led by the Spirit, getting revelation knowledge out of the Word quickened by the Spirit and applied to your own personal needs will "give life" and sustain you in the battle.

Let the Spirit of God make biblical methods come alive with your name written on them! Seek His guidance and follow the Lord by obediently doing what He is telling you to do during any season of sickness, financial duress or other difficult trials. Isa. 55:6, 8, 9 simplifies the process:

6 Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon him while He is near:

8 For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, says the LORD.

9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.

God does have "ways" of doing things, but, they are higher than our ways. So, v. 6 instructs us to Seek the Lord. Remember, Jesus is "the Way." Seek the Way until you find your own personal "Secret method"; your heavenly appointed "way" out of each of your problems.

What could be simpler?

Prayer: "Father, forgive me for my tendency to try to boil down every area of my life to a system of easily followed formulas. Teach me to follow You. Reveal to me what You are saying about my problems.””(1)


The correct way to pray is first seeking God’s instructions rather than following a formula that may not apply. Jesus did not use a formula, but always did what His Father first told Him. The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works (John 14:10). Do the same, first ask the Father for His directions.

Jesus said,  “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). God is always with you. Start talking with your heavenly Father throughout the day.  Ask for His instructions and directions for your needs. Be patient, waiting on the Lord for His answer.

Jesus always succeeded because He followed the Father’s directions and the Father fulfilled His instructions. You too will succeed when you follow the Father’s specific instructions for your unique situation.

(1) Dea Warford of Warford Ministries.

Click for can I hear God.

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