How to pray effective prayers during challenging times

How to pray effective prayers during challenging times

When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority overall flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.

Scripture: John 17:1-25

It has been 37 days since the 1st case of Covid was reported in Kenya. We thank God that contrary to projections that were made, God has continued to hold back the number of infections. We continue to practice social distancing, washing of hands, staying at home, and most importantly, praying.

Sometimes having prayed for that long since the disease came to Kenya, one wonders what more to pray and even how to pray even better.

From the prayer of Jesus in John 17, we can learn some things that can help as to pray effectively in difficult times. 

 Jesus was facing greatest challenge of his time ever; the cross, the torture, the torment – Isaiah 52 says He was marred beyond recognition. He had no beauty that we should look at him. He was in a crisis. It was an hour of darkness; Remember He was fully human as much as he was fully God. Having emptied himself; Sometimes He would say “I am sorrowful even to the point of death”. Other times “Father, if it is your will take this cup away from me.”

What made Jesus’ prayers effective?

  1. He had a relationship with the Father – Five times in v1, 5, 11b, 21, 24;25 He refers to God as Father…daddy; v1. “Father, glorify your son,” v5. (Father son relationship)=Loved by His Father….
  2. He knew His mandate/purpose in life – v2. “to give eternal life to all the Father had given Him”
  3. He fulfilled His purpose – I have brought you glory by finishing the work you gave me;  I have revealed you them; I have given them your words and they obeyed; they know you sent me.
  4. His prayers were not self-centered – He would have been tempted to get into pity-party and focus only on himself, self-preservation and  His security. Although he was facing death, He prayed for others, He focused on the Kingdom Agenda.

But what did he pray about?

Many times in difficult situation we tend to be overwhelmed with burdens fear and all we do is focus on ourselves; Look at times of election violence. We have very many people praying but only when there is a crisis. James says “we ask and don’t receive because we pray amiss.” James 4:2

Please do not misunderstand; We are not in any way trying to underestimate the seriousness of the threat of COVID, we can in no way trivialize the fact that a lot people are sick, others have died and others affected. Our children are home, many do not know what to do having lost businesses, jobs etc.

However, the prayer that overcomes is not the prayer of defense and preservation, though that is important; WE NEED TO PRAY PRAYERS THAT ARE KINGDOM FOCUSSED not self focussed.

Luke 21:34 “Be careful or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, dulled by the cares of this life, that that day catches on you suddenly like a trap.”

1. He prayed for The Father to be glorified; v1 “Father, glorify your son so that He also may glorify you” – Help him to go through the torture and torment; this difficult crisis. (Give him victory over death) SO THAT he may glorify you. Jesus knew it was only in dying that he would glorify the father and he himself be glorified with the glory he had before the world began. He had told the disciples in John 12:24 ”Truly, truly I say to you unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains alone but if it does, it will bear much fruit…”.

Jesus never sought his own glory; never did anything to be patted on his back.

Q. Do we live for God’s glory?; It is in times of crisis that the greatest innovations have been made. The glory of God must remain our highest passion and agenda;

Pray for yourself that as you go through dark moments of life you God will ultimately me glorified; During this crisis, we are dying to ourselves; to dependence of riches, human wisdom, science etc.

May the Lord be glorified.

2. He prayed that the disciples may be Sanctified; v11. I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of  your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.

  • Aren’t you glad Jesus prayed for your protection and God hears His prayers. He is even right now interceding for you and me.
  • He has been given the NAME ABOVE EVERY NAME….Phil.2; Even above Covid-19.
  • He who watches over Israel neither sleeps nor slumbers Psalms 121
  • The Name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and are safe.
  • He prayed….Not that they be taken out the world; but that they be preserved from the evil one…..the enemy of their souls; They are not of this world any more than Jesus is.
  • The evil one targets our hearts; the disciples were to go through so much suffering but Jesus prayed for them. He is still praying for you, you who has lost your job or business. The enemy knows you can lose everything and still make it in life but if you lose your faith, you are finished. You must guard your faith but also pray for those hurting and suffering that their faith does not fail.
  • In difficult times the enemy asks you… Is God really there, does he care? Does he still love you?….. Is God there anyway? That’s how he attacked Peter. Luke22;31-32: Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. 32But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith will not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”…
  • Let’s pray for those going through difficult times that their faith will remain intact.
  • Does it mean we will never go through the troubles common to men therefore? NO! Our children are out of school, businesses even of christians going down, some have been laid off, auctioned, sickness? Roms 8:23…The creation groans; We ourselves groan inwardly, as we wait eagerly for adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies

But in all these, we are more than conquerors as Paul says in Rom 8:35-39 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Q.What is the worst that can happen to us…..death?;Rom 14:8 If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

  • Phil. 1:21; For me to live is Christ and to die is gain….
  • The singer says; No power of hell, no skim of man, can ever take me from His hand….for He is mine and I am His…..Here in the power of Christ I live. From life’s first cry to the final breathe, Jesus commands my destiny.

Q. Does it mean we have to be careless, No! We must observe everything the Govt. has told us but we must also know we are safe eternally.

This drives out all kind of fear and glorifies Christ.

3. He prayed that the disciples may be Sanctified; v17 This means being set them apart, be made them holy, separate them for service; Just as the father sanctified him, may they be set apart. This doesn’t mean they be separated from the world and go to monasteries or be separated from people they live with.

  • V18. As you sent me into the world, so I send them; I sanctify myself
  • Let them have a burning desire for obedience…..even to the point of death; Jesus himself became obedient even unto death.
  • We are to pray that this will be a time of consecration, turning away from the things of this world, idols, into serving the true God.
  • 1 Thes. 5:23-24; May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless unto His coming;
  • This is the will God, even your sanctification and that you flee sexual immorality 1 Thes. 4:3
  • Paul told Timothy “In a large house, there are many kinds of vessels but If a vessel sanctifies itself, it becomes fit for Master’s use.

4. He prayed for the harvest: those who would believe through the message of the disciples

  • He prayed for the disciples’ witness, world evangelization; prayer has no distance future, no time restrictions. He even prayed for us and for those who are suffering now without hope and dying and going to hell.
  • Jesus moved with compassion; said the harvest is plentiful….and asked the disciples to pray Matt 9:36:38; When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
  • We need to pray that many will be saved at this time, Chinese, Arabs…all; This is harvest time.
  • We need to pray God for strategies to reach out more than ever before; your workmates don’t have hope; your hardcore family members have been humbled and their hearts softened in this season;
  • It’s time for the church to “occupy till I come” as Jesus said; in Facebook, TV; Twitter, Instagram.
  • Instead of forwarding hopeless things, conspiracy theories and things to cause fear, start sending the word of life, Join Instagram, Facebook, twitter,
  • The harvest is online but the harvesters have been offline; lets get there, lets reach out in love, let’s give hope.
  • I know we can’t wait to go back to our normal lives but, what will it be for if it is for people go on living in sin and as though there was not God

5. He prayed for the unity of the church: complete unity modelled after the oneness of Trinity.

  • They may be one as we are one; that the world may know that “you sent me.” Not that they all agree in every doctrine but that there are no fights, competition; strife, stealing each other’s sheep, slander, malice. Then the world will know that you sent me; Currently the world is confused, the church does not have a voice.


As we continue to pray in this time of crisis, let’s learn from our Master Jesus. In the time of His severest crisis, he did not lose focus of His mandate…his purpose; Wanted God to receive all the glory; We cannot bring God the glory He has purposed when we are still in ourselves; we must die….He didn’t allow his heart to be overwhelmed with dissipation; self-preservation, inward looking pity party spirit. He still prayed for others; he reached out. He prayed for us that we may be protected. We are safe (Not necessarily in this world but in Christ).

Nothing can separate us from Him. We are therefore to behave differently; courageously, offering hope. He prayed for our being separated for His service, He want to use us. Are you available? He prayed for harvest of souls; when last did you pray for those not born again. May the Lord give us true compassion for the lost. May we be those who contribute for the true unity of the body of Christ. May we learn from the prayer of Jesus.


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