There are some basic conditions to meet that will then assure us that God will hear and answer our prayers to Him. The first condition is that we feel that we need His help. He promised us, “For I will pour out water to quench your thirst and to irrigate your parched fields. And I will pour out My Spirit on your descendants, and My blessing on your children.” (Isaiah 44:3). Those of us who hunger and thirst to be close to God, and to be filled with His Spirit, can claim the promise He makes to fill us with Him. We must be open to receiving God’s Spirit and influence in our hearts, or we will be unable to get His blessing.
The simple fact is that we are human. Because of this, we have a great need of God’s help and this is an argument in itself. We should look to God to help us simply because we cannot help ourselves. He has told us to “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for.” (Matthew 7:7). We also read and can see that, “Since He [God the Father] did not spare even His own Son but gave Him up for us all, won’t He also give us everything else?” (Romans 8:32).
If we can see any sin in our hearts, or if we knowingly hold onto any sin in our lives, God will not hear us. However, prayers from those who are sorry, and who come before God with a humble heart and spirit will always have their prayers heard. We can believe that God will answer our requests when we come to Him after making everything right that we know of. Our own reputation and actions are not enough to ever justify us receiving the favor of God. Instead, the worthiness of Jesus saves us from sin. It is Christ’s blood—a symbol of His life and death—that makes us accepted by the Father. However, we are responsible in complying with the conditions that come with acceptance.
Faith is another necessary element for a powerful and meaningful prayer life. “It is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6). Jesus told His disciples, “I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.” (Mark 11:24). Will we take Jesus’ words seriously?
This promise is both broad and limitless, and as we read about God and His previous promises in the Bible, we learn and can know that He is faithful to keep this promise to us. Even if we do not receive things we have asked for in the amount of time that we think God should have taken, we still should believe that God has heard our prayers and that He will answer them. However, sometimes we are either short-sighted in our requests, or we simply ask for things that would not end up being a blessing to us, and in these cases, God chooses to answer our requests by giving us things that will ultimately help us. If we had the divine insight that God has, and we could see the situation through His eyes, we would agree with His judgment.
If the answers to our prayers seem to be taking a long time, we must not give up or doubt the promise. Instead, lean into the promise that Jesus gave to us and He will answer it when the timing is best for us and in the way that is best for us too. Never presume that our requests will always be answered in the exact same way that we asked them. God is wiser than we are, and if we receive an answer that is different from what we asked for, then instead of focusing on what we did not get, we should embrace what we received instead. God values us too much to deny us anything that allows us to reach our fullest potential. We should not doubt Him, even when it seems as though He is taking a long time answering our prayers. Instead, let us rely and claim the promise that He gave us that if you “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for” (Matthew 7:7).
If we decide to focus on our doubts and our fears, or if we press ahead and try to solve all the uncertainties of the unknown before we have faith, we will become overwhelmed, confused, and worried when things stop making sense. However, if we come to God, when we feel like we cannot go on, and with a humble and trusting spirit, share our needs and worries with Him, He will comfort us and will strengthen us to keep pressing forward. By praying to God with a sincere heart, we are connecting our lives and minds to God and His infinite wisdom and knowledge. Even though we may not see any evidence immediately He has taken care of our problems, or spoken love and truth into our hearts, we can trust Him that He has heard our prayers and will answer when the time is best. We may not feel His touch physically or see Him touch us with our eyes, but He is still interested in helping and blessing our lives with His love.
When we come to God in prayer, we should come with a spirit of love, humility, and forgiveness in our hearts. It does not make any sense to pray, “Forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us” (Matthew 6:12), while we are still holding an unforgiving attitude. If we want God to forgive us of our sins, we should be forgiving others in the same way, and to the same level of forgiveness, as we would like others to forgive us.
Another requirement in receiving answers to prayer is perseverance. We must always lean into prayer if we are interested in growing our faith and spiritual lives. We should “keep on praying” (Romans 12:12) and we must, “Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.” (Colossians 4:2). Peter tells us to “be earnest and disciplined in your prayers” (1 Peter 4:7). Paul encourages us to not “worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.” (Philippians 4:6). Jude points us in the right direction by saying, “But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love.” (Jude 1:20-21). Constantly praying will keep our hearts and minds connected with God and this connection is what allows life from God to strengthen us, and this connection allows us to reflect God’s character in our lives.
Next week, we will continue looking at prayer and how God has given us the ability to come into His presence, rest, and be restored.
P.S. As always, if I missed something, or if you would like to respond on this topic, join the conversation below!