Prayer: To Be Heard and Answered!
Have you ever wondered why, when you throw prayers up to God, that God seemingly is not listening much less answering your prayers? God “promised” that He would hear and answer our prayers! He HAS to answer our prayers. Jesus, himself, “promised” that He would give us anything I wanted! Well, no He didn’t. You see there are some prayer promises in the Old Testament and in the New Testament that we are entitled to IF we are compliant with God’s program. Notice I did not say IF God is compliant with our program.
2 Chronicles 7:14 (NASB95)
14 and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
Notice that we have previously discussed this verse in corporate prayer. However, we can see that God has placed some criteria to be in force BEFORE He answers prayers. We must humble ourselves, pray, seek Him, AND turn from our wicked ways. THEN He will hear, forgive our sin, AND heal our land. This is a practice instilled in the Old Testament and carries over into the New Testament as well. Let me illustrate this point.
- We cannot knowingly and continually live in and practice sin and expect our prayers to be answered. Notice in 2 Chronicles 7:14 above that we must turn from our wicked ways. This is also noted in Psalm 66:18.
Psalm 66:18 (NASB95)
18 If I regard wickedness in my heart, The Lord will not hear;
Therefore, it is clear to see that if we defiantly hold to, justify, and defend habitual sin in our lives God will not hear us. If we know our thoughts, actions, and words to be sinful we cannot defend our position with God. Of course we all sin but in doing so we are convicted of our sin. We repent and turn away from that sin learning to avoid that sin any further.
2. We must pray with love towards our brothers (and sisters) and anyone else for that matter.
1 John 3:22–23 (NASB95)
22 and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.
23 This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.
We cannot refuse to forgive others that have hurt us, done us harm, or simply because we don’t like them. To pray in this manner puts us out of fellowship with God.
Matthew 6:14–15 (NASB95) These are the words of Jesus.
14 “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
15 “But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.
To pray with in an unforgiving state is to pray without being heard.
3. We must have absolutely no doubts when we pray. If we pray doubting God’s willingness to answer our prayers or God’s ability to answer our prayers then, certainly, we are praying for the sake of vanity.
(A) James 1:5–8 (NASB95)
5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
6 But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.
7 For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord,
8 being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
We cannot doubt God’s willingness to answer our prayers or His ability to answer prayers. If we doubt God then why are we praying at all?
4. We must pray within and in reference to God’s Will. God’s Will is greater than our will. We do not know what God has planned. We may ask for anything according to God’s Will. But what happens when what we are praying for is contrary to God’s Will? Likely, God’s Will is going to be done in spite of what we want.
1 John 5:14 (NASB95)
14 This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.
Even Jesus was not exempt or above the Will of the Father.
Matthew 26:39 (NASB95)
39 And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.”
When we pray we should be mindful of “yet not as I will, but as You will.”
5. When we pray, we must pray with an understanding of the promises of Jesus. The following are some of the promises of Jesus regarding prayer.
John 14:13–14 (NASB95)
13 “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
14 “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.
John 15:7 (NASB95)
7 “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
John 15:16 (NASB95)
16 “You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.
John 16:23 (NASB95)
23 “In that day you will not question Me about anything. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you.
1 John 5:15 (NASB95)
15 And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.
These promises are often misconstrued (my opinion) to be “blank checks” or “slot machines” to ask for and get anything we want. However, that kind of thinking is in error to some extent because of the consideration of praying in accordance to God’s Will. What if you were asking for a new boat or recreational vehicle? What are the chances that those things would serve as distractions in your life that might tempt you to skip a few Sundays of worship at church? No, these promises are to provide us with what we need to fulfill His Will not our will. So these promises are not necessarily strictly for what we desire (I will grant that God does grant some of our desires). However, it is more in line with the intent of Scripture that these promises are to provide our needs to elevate Him in our lives.
You may agree or disagree with me. Believe me, I have heard almost every conceivable argument against what I am saying in this post. I, however, cannot personally abide by those arguments. I wish you all love, peace and prosperity. I wrote this post at the beginning of a period of fasting and prayer in my life and the life of my family. I hope and pray that these thoughts are helpful to you. God Bless!
In His Grip,