How to Get Prayer Answered

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Pray honestly. If I pray that God will bless my neighbor, but in my heart I hate that neighbor, which prayer will God hear? Obviously, what my heart is saying. The only way God will bless my neighbor in answer to my prayer is if I admit that I hate him and ask God to help me love him.

Meaningless repetition doesn't mean a thing to God.2The prayer he hears and answers is the one that comes from the heart. As the Bible says, "The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth."3

Pray believing. Faith, too, is essential for effective prayer. As Jesus said, "All things, whatever you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive,"4and "according to your faith will it be done to you."5

Pray specifically. Recently I had a need for office equipment and asked God to show me how to get the needed funds this month! That night I was unable to sleep so I got up and worked on balancing my finances. To my amazement, I found a mistake in my favor and was able to order the equipment the next day!

Pray persistently. Not all prayers get answered so quickly. I have prayed for some things for years before getting an answer. If our prayer is legitimate, sometimes we need to be as persistent as Jacob, who once said to God, "I will not let you go until you have blessed me."6Jesus Himself said, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened."7The principle is to keep on asking and seeking until you receive.

The key to all effective prayer is
learning to pray the right prayer.

Pray in harmony with God's will. The Bible says, "If we ask anything according to God's will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the request which we have asked from him."8

High on God's priorities for us is our growth and maturity. Prayers in harmony with this principle, and with all of God's will, will always be effective. Prayers outside his will are denied.

Pray sincerely. "Do you want to be made well?" was Jesus' question. In other words, if we want God to answer our prayers we have to want the answer enough to be willing to pay the price. For instance, if we want to grow in faith, love, patience, perseverance, and maturity, we need to realize that all of these are acquired through experience, often painful experience. As the Bible says, "Suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character."9

Finally, come to God on his terms. Effective prayer is also dependent on our having a right relationship with God through his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only one through whom we can approach God. "Nobody can come to God except through me,"10Jesus said. Because of our sin, our relationship with God has been broken. But because of Christ's death for us on the cross, our relationship with God can be restored by our responding to Jesus' invitation to receive him into our heart and life as personal Lord and Savior and then coming to God through him.

When we are living in a right relationship with God and learn to pray the right prayers, we can be certain that God will answer them. As Jesus put it, "If you stay in [right relationship with] me and obey my commands, you may ask any request you like, and it will be granted!"11

1. James 4:2-3, paraphrase.     2. Matthew 6:7.     3. Psalm 145:18 (NIV).     4. Matthew 21:22 (NIV).     5. Matthew 9:29, (NIV).     6. Genesis 35:26 (TLB).     7. Matthew 7:7-8, (NIV).     8. 1 John 5:14-15, (NIV).     9. Romans 5:3-4, (RSV).     10. John 14:6.     11. John 15:7, (TLB).

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