To act without knowing how you function is not good; and if you rush ahead you will miss your goal. (Proverbs 19:2 - Complete Jewish Bible)
The First Step
The first thing to know about how we function is declared in Ephesians 6:12.
We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
We wrestle against a spiritual enemy. Put another way: there is a spiritual enemy at war against us who is constantly seeking opportunity to attack us - to steal from us, withhold from us, hold us captive, kill us, and destroy us.
The next thing to know is that God has given us armor to protect us against this enemy. If we put on God’s armor we are able to stand, resist, and overcome the enemy. If we do not put on God’s armor, the enemy will overcome us.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, (Ephesians 6:10-17)
Therefore, the first step in getting started in prayer is to put on God’s armor.
“Father, in the name of Jesus I thank you for your armor. I put on your armor, truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation, and the sword of your Spirit.”
The Second Step
The next thing to know about how we function is that God has sent the Spirit of Truth to guide us into all the truth.
I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth ... When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, (John 14:16-17, 16:13)
This tells us that, just as we need God’s armor to stand against the enemy, we need the Spirit of Truth to perceive truth. No matter how well we think we perceive truth, without the Spirit of Truth guiding us into truth we do not perceive it. Therefore, the second step is to ask God to send the Spirit of Truth to guide us into all the truth and then follow him.
“Father, in the name of Jesus I thank you that you send forth your Spirit of truth to guide and lead me into all the truth and show me things to come. I pray that you send forth your Spirit of truth to guide and lead me into all the truth and show me things to come.”
Related information: We need to learn how the Spirit guides us into truth, how to hear him, and how to recognize him. Confirming the Spirit of Truth contains some information on how to hear and recognize the Spirit of Truth. Measuring According to Truth contains some more information on trusting the Spirit of Truth instead of our own understanding. My free book, The Guiding Into Truth Work of the Holy Spirit contains much more information on how the Spirit guides us and how to hear him.
The Third Step
The next thing we need to do is to begin to change how we function so we function in a way that will produce results in prayer. We need to change the nature of our being so we will not act without knowing what God would have us do. The first change to make is to choose the fear of the Lord: to pray and ask God to give us fear of the Lord.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. (Psalms 111:10)
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7)
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. (Proverbs 9:10)
Father, we thank you in the name of Jesus for fear of the Lord. We choose fear of the Lord and ask you for it.
The book of Proverbs contains focused ministry on fear of the Lord. Sowing Proverbs in abundance into our hearts helps to work fear of the Lord into our being.
Fear of the Lord works in us the knowledge and understanding that we may only avoid being overcome by the enemy - avoid being killed and destroyed - by being strong in the Lord and the power of his might, by putting on his armor, and by following the guiding of his Spirit of Truth. This beginning of knowledge and wisdom is the beginning changing how we function: from seeking to please ourselves and walk according to our own perception and understanding of truth and submit ourselves to please God and to walk according to the guiding of the Spirit.
Related information: Read my testimony on praying for fear of the Lord.
The Fourth Step
The next step is sowing the Word of God into our hearts so it produces in us all that pertains to producing results in prayer. Faith comes by God’s Word and faith is necessary to produce results in prayer. God’s Word also works in us to cause us to will and to do God’s will. Praying according to God’s will and doing God’s will are necessary to produce results in prayer.
Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17)
If you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you. (Matthew 17:20)
It shall be done to you according to your faith. (Matthew 9:29)
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, (James 1:5-6)
God works in you (through his Word sown into your heart), giving you the will and the power to do what pleases him. (Philippians 2:13)
This is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. (1 John 5:14-15)
For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. (Hebrews 10:36)
Related information: Sowing the Word of God Into Our Hearts.
The Last Steps in Getting Started
The final steps in getting started are to learn about how prayer works: what prayer is, the process of prayer, the powers that work to produce results in prayer, the powers that work to oppose results in prayer, and what types of prayer there are.