Righteous prayer is powerful. It avails much in the spiritual realms. But when misused, prayer slows you down. Sadly, most prayers in born-again Christian churches today are dead because prayer has been misused.
Take this for instance. How do you measure effective prayer? You'd likely say, if it's answered. And how do you tell an answered from an unanswered prayer? You'd likely say, if you got what you asked for. Hence, we hear them say, "Answered prayer" when they get what they asked for.
But most "answered prayers" are really general blessings. You'd get them with or without prayer. Some church people conclude that a moneyed person or church is thus because of a powerful prayer life--every prayer is answered. But if you look closely and are aware of Kingdom principles in the bible, you'd see that the so-called "answered prayers" are all general blessings--blessings God give to both the righteous and the wicked.
In fact, if we use their basis for an "answered prayer" we'd find that non-Christians seem to be more "blessed" than most Christian churches. For instance, a born-again church has been praying for years for funds to buy a small property and build a small chapel. One day, at last the funds come and they say it is "answered prayer." If asked why they think it is God's answer to their prayer, they'd say they got what they asked for.
Then here comes an atheist saying he just had his third townhouse built after just 3 months, plus matching 3 cars, and he didn't even pray for them.
And then here comes a church cult saying they prayed for funds for buying a property and a church building and in 4 months the property and church building happened. And man, how it looks grand and majestic! They claim, "answered prayer." In fact, religious buildings of cults are bigger and better looking and people there are more moneyed. They claim, "answered prayer."
Gauging Prayer Effectiveness Materially
You know why many christian churches are weak spiritually? Because their religious prayers slow them down. They're raised up trained to see the effectiveness of a prayer in material terms. That does NOT build faith that moves mountains. When you are trained to rely on what is seen in the physical and not what is seen in the spirit, your faith dies and your prayer slows you down.
You claim "answered prayer" simply because you got in material form what you asked for. Keeping up with this belief will drain your faith and eventually kill it so that you no longer "see" in the spirit how God works behind the scene. Seeing the "unseen" in the spirit is what builds up faith and empowers righteous prayers.
Abraham believed God about the descendants as numerous as the stars. Abraham got an "answered prayer" though all he saw in the physical was Ishmael and Isaac. He died without seeing the nation God promised. But he "saw" it in the spirit though it didn't happen in his lifetime.
If born-again churches today saw him then, they would have concluded that Abraham had weak prayers and didn't have God's favor because he "never got what he asked for." Today, Christian churches measure everything through what the human eyes see, what is appreciated in material form, never in the spirit.
Thus, if you belong to such churches, your every prayer slows you down (though you think you get "answered prayers"). Later, it will kill your faith so that you begin seeing and talking just like everyone else--everyone whose faith is dying, if not dead already--though they boast of getting "answered prayers."
When Prayer is Replaced By Spiritual Sensitivity
If you stop seeing prayer as a way to benefit your religious (or "Christian") flesh and stop defining answered prayer as getting in material form what you asked for, your prayers will be empowered. Real things begin to take shape in the spirit and your mouth declarations begin to build powerfully in the spirit realms.
Then your prayer life begins to transfigure. Instead of the usual "prayer" that man's Christian religion reformulated from the true prayer my Jesus taught (very much like how Frankenstein was experimented by a smart man), you begin to understand Jesus' prayer parable.
Jesus said, there was a man who banged on the door of a neighbor because he needed to ask for food--a guest had come to him late at night. The neighbor said he couldn't get up from bed because he was already in bed with his children. Later, however, due to insistent door banging, the neighbor got up and gave the man food.
People who define answered prayer as getting in material form what you asked for would see the man banging on door repeatedly and later getting in material form what he asked for as the main gist of the story. They won't see the children inside the house already in bed with their father.
There's a higher form of prayer--spiritual sensitivity. You don't need to utter a word--your intimacy with the Father develops sharp sensitivity in the spirit so that you get your words across through mere gestures or emotions that words cannot convey. The Spirit of God utters the meaning of the emotions and gestures for you, and the Father gets what you mean and you don't need to shout or bang on the door.
You get amply supplied for without uttering a prayer. It's because you seek Him first and His Kingdom (in fact, you're not just living in the Kingdom daily, you sleep in the Father's very bed with him!). Everything just gets added to you by His favor--not as general blessings given to saints and sinners.
Prayer slows you down. Just seek Him and His Kingdom.