GOD IS IN THE PRAYER ANSWERING BUSINESS AND HE WANTS TO ANSWER YOUR PRAYERS
You must know that God is in the prayer answering business, and if He answered prayers in the past, He certainly will answer yours today. The most important thing is learning how to approach God in a way that is going to get God’s attention, so that your prayer petition will be received and answered by God. Our aim is to teach you how to reach the mind of God and get results.
The one thing that you must clearly understand is this, “there are conditions.” First you must learn to approach God HIS way, not your own. You need to know how to pray—when—how often—where—and what to pray for. The answers are in God’s Word.
Let us look at some of the conditions to answered prayer. The following is not an exhaustive list; this is just an introduction to get you to the point of learning the importance of prayer in your life.
Why? Because “he who comes to God must BELIEVE that He is”—that God exists—“and that He is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (same verse). If you want God to answer your prayers, you must first believe that He exists and that He will hear you. That takes faith.
James added, “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavers is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man thinks that he shall receive any thing of the Lord” (James. 1:6-7).
But what is faith? Here is the Bible’s definition: “…faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). Faith is you’re PROOF that God will deliver His promises—it is your GUARANTEE that He will come through for you.
But you must also meet other conditions.
Be diligent: When most people pray (to be healed, find a job, etc.), they ask God once, maybe twice, and then give up.
But Christ said, “ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for every one that asks receives; and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him?” (Matt. 7:7-11; Luke 11:8-9).
Let God know that you are serious about your request.
Keep in mind that He seldom answers prayers in the way or time frame most people expect. God does things His way, according to His timetable.
If a matter is important to you, do not pray about it just once. Come to God again and again, not in a nagging way, but with sincere, heartfelt petitions. Be diligent.
Again, let God know how serious you are.
Pray for God’s will, not your own: In the world, most pray for selfish reasons. Some ask God to bless them in winning the lottery. Others pray that their enemies will get their “just desserts.” But are they seeking God’s will?
Notice James 4: “You lust, and have not: you kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: you fight and war, yet you have not, because you ask not. You ask, and receive not, because you ask amiss, that you may consume it upon your lusts” (vs. 2-3). If your mind is set on foolish, carnal lusts, God will not hear you.
Your requests must be centered on what God desires. The Apostle John wrote, “And this is the confidence that we have in [God], that, if we ask any thing according to His will, He hears us: And if we know that He hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him” (I John 5:14-15).
Just before He was arrested, tortured and crucified, Jesus cried out to God in anguish. He prayed, “O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me: nevertheless not as I will, but as You will” (Matt. 26:39).
Humanly, Jesus did not want to suffer the brutal torture and death that awaited Him. Yet He still prayed that God’s will be done, not His own. Christ always put God first. He always approached Him with a yielded, humble attitude.
Follow Christ’s example and God will answer your prayers.
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. And 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).
Your prayers should be like sweet-smelling incense to God.
To capture its full body of richness and flavor, incense must be beaten and ground into a very fine powder. Likewise, your prayers should be “finely ground”—specific and highly detailed. They should “smell good” to God. But if you are not careful, they could smell like something else.
Prayers that consist of the “gimmes,” or that start out with self-righteous attitudes, are a foul stench to God’s nostrils, like sulfur dioxide—rotten egg gas—or burned rubber.
Always thank God: Paul wrote, “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (I Thes. 5:18) You should always give thanks to God in your prayers. If you do not, you will miss a vital key to having your prayers answered.
Pray from the heart: When most pray, they mumble a few words and hope for the best. Or, like the Pharisees 2,000 years ago, they give long, monotonous prayers that go no higher than the ceiling (Luke 18:10-12). Either way, they are not putting their hearts into their requests.
Regarding the modern-day descendants of Israel, the Prophet Isaiah wrote, “And there is none that calls upon your name, that stirs up himself to take hold of you: for you have hid your face from us, and have consumed us, because of our iniquities” (64:7).
The prophet Hosea adds, “Woe unto them! For they have fled from Me: Destruction unto them! Because they have transgressed against Me: though I have redeemed them, yet they have spoken lies against Me. And they have not cried unto Me with their heart, when they howled upon their beds” (7:13-14).
Contrast this with what James wrote: “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (5:16). Always be fervent!
God used the Prophet Elijah as an example (vs. 17-18). Elijah was human, fallible. He had the same passions and frustrations that people still struggle with today.
Look at Christ’s example: “Who in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto Him that was able to save Him from death, and was heard in that He feared” (Heb. 5:7).
Fervent, heartfelt, sincere prayer gets results.
And as you have seen, God’s Word shows that there are many conditions for answered prayer. You can discover other conditions by thoroughly studying the Bible.