“Have you noticed how much praying for revival has been going on of late and how little revival has resulted? I believe the problem is that we have been trying to substitute praying for obeying, and it simply will not work. To pray for revival while ignoring the plain precept laid down in Scripture is to waste a lot of words and get nothing for our trouble. Prayer will become effective when we stop using it as a substitute for obedience.” A. W. Tozer
When Jesus taught the disciples how to pray he included a prayer of asking for forgiveness of our sins. We ask forgiveness for our sins because we need forgiveness of our sins. We also ask forgiveness for our sins because we are suppose to also repent from those sins and do them no more. It would be ridiculous to think that we can ask for forgiveness but not do anything else. In fact, Jesus even says that if we ask for forgiveness that we must also be ready to extend forgiveness to others who ask for it.
All this makes it pretty clear. When we pray, we also must obey. We cannot simply believe that prayer is enough. In many instances, our prayers will do nothing because we are not willing to do something for those things we pray for. Paul, in Ephesians 1, says how he prays for the saints that they would have a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ. Did you realize that as he describes what he prays for he is also working towards that? Paul is laboring in Ephesians 1-3 to teach the saints and give them more knowledge of Christ. His prayer is that as he does so that God will give them more wisdom and revelation within that knowledge. Paul is laboring for what he is praying for.
If we are going to pray for our financial situations, we must also be willing to obey God in our finances. If we are going to pray for our neighbor down the street, we must also be willing to love our neighbor down the street.
I don’t want to overstate it, but our prayers must be in accordance to God’s will, and so should our lives. Not everything we pray for may be something we can do something about, at least directly. But we must believe that we simply can excuse ourselves of actually being Christians by just praying for things. As Christians we pray, because God commands it. We pray, knowing God actually uses prayers. But we also work towards those things that we pray for if it is so possible.