HOW TO GET GOD TO ANSWER YOUR PRAYERS (PART 2)
You can know God’s will by studying His Word. The Bible contains more than a thousand pages and 750,000 words of God’s expressed will. If you study it daily, replacing your thoughts with His, you can understand what God wants.
For example, notice Jeremiah 9; “Thus says the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him that glories glory in this,” “that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord which exercise loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, says the Lord” (vs. 23-24).
Do your prayers reflect loving-kindness (mercy, out-going concern for others), godly judgment (wisdom based on true biblical understanding), and righteousness (obedience to God’s laws; see Psalm 119:172 and 111:10)?
This world’s Christianity does not understand this. Its religionists, teachers and leaders do not preach it.
Yet the Bible teaches that God will only listen to those who are teachable, humble and yielded to Him. Notice Isaiah 66: “Thus says the Lord, The heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool: where is the house that You build unto Me? And where is the place of My rest? For all those things has My hand made, and all those things have been, says the Lord: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembles at My Word” (vs. 1-2).
Jesus used a parable to teach a valuable lesson to “some who trusted in themselves” (Luke 18:9):
“Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican [tax collector]. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank You, that I am not as other men are, extortionist, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess” (vs. 10-12). The Pharisee “knew” that He was God’s gift to mankind.
“And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner” (vs. 13). The tax collector saw himself from God’s perspective and humbled himself.
Christ continued, “I tell you, this man [the tax collector] went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalts himself shall be abased; and he that humbles himself shall be exalted” (vs. 14).
God will not listen to the prayers of the proud and arrogant.
Keep God’s Law: To begin to understand God’s will, you must obey Him, David wrote, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do His commandments” (Psa. 111:10).
The more you obey God, the more understanding He will give you. Moreover, the more you receive, the more God expects you to obey Him.
When you do this, God promises, “Beloved, if our heart condemn us not”—because we deliberately choose God’s way of life and stop sinning— “then have we confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight” (I John 3:21-22).
God listens to those who obey Him. It is that simple.
When Jesus lived on earth, He knew that God would always answer His prayers. Here’s why: “And He that sent Me is with Me: the Father has not left Me alone; for I do always those things that please Him” (John 8:29).
If you follow Christ’s footsteps and obey God, your prayers will be answered!
Consider this: “He that turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination” (Prov. 28:9). If you do not listen to (and obey) God, He will not listen to you!
Approach God with a clean conscience: When you sin—break God’s laws—He cannot hear you: “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither His ear heavy, that it cannot hear: but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear” (Isa. 59:1-2).
He also wrote, “If I regard iniquity [sin] in my heart [mind], the Lord will not hear” (66:18).
Confess your sins before God. Repent and ask for His forgiveness. Christ’s blood will cleanse you.
Some people fall into a dangerous pattern: When they sin, their guilt gnaws at them. They feel too ashamed to approach God in prayer. And God cannot hear a prayer that is never uttered. Because they have not confessed their sins and repented, their sin grows. Soon they are trapped in a cycle of sin. If they do not turn to God soon, their conscience will be seared. They will end up sinning without feeling guilt, shame or fear.
Do not let this happen to you!
The Bible states, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9).
God has seen men commit every sin imaginable. Your confession cannot shock Him. But it will set you free from the deadly cycle of sin, pain and, ultimately, death.
Be bold: This world’s Christianity pictures Christ as a helpless weakling nailed to a cross.
But the Bible clearly shows that Christ is in heaven, actively working on behalf of His servants: “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God; let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:14-15).
When we pray to God, we do so by the authority of Jesus Christ. His shed blood allows us to enter the most holy place in the universe—God’s throne!
That is why, when we pray, we are commanded to “come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:14-16).
God expects our prayers to be bold, full of confidence—in Him, not self.
If we come before God wavering and full of doubt, He will not listen (James 1:6-7).
Pray in detail: Some have reasoned, “Why should I pray? Doesn’t God already know everything, including what I think?”
God knows everything you need even before you ask Him (Matt. 6:8).
He knows your inner thoughts and desires: “I the Lord search the heart [mind], I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruits of his doings” (Jer. 17:10).
Yet God wants you to pray to Him. Here are five reasons why:
(1) God wants you to draw close to Him and show Him where your heart is (Matt. 6:19-21).
(2) He wants you to express out-going concern for others. Praying for others is an opportunity to do this.
(4) He wants you to submit your will to Him. If you believe God’s Word and pray from the heart, God’s thoughts will saturate your mind. You will come to think—and act—like Him (Eph. 1:17-19).
(5) Like any good parent, God wants to know His children. Specific, highly detailed prayers please God.
Consider this scripture: “And when He had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb [Christ], having everyone of them harps, and golden vials full of odors [incense], which are the prayers of saints” (Rev. 5:8).
TO BE CONTINUED IN LESSON 3.