Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.
Jesus promised, "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened" (Matthew 7:7-8).
If we ask and don't get an answer to our prayer, does it mean Jesus has broken His promise? No, it does not because God answers prayers in more than one way. Sometimes He answers "Yes" before we get up off our knees. Sometimes he answers "No." Sometimes God answers, "Wait."
God answers prayers based on His principles and not ours. However, the Bible gives some scriptural advice for giving your prayers a better chance of being answered.
1. Repent of Sins
Before you go to God in prayer, repent of your sins. Go to God with a clean slate. Psalm 66:18 says, "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me." Isaiah 59:1-2 states, "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."
If you want God to hear your prayers and answer them, then you must clear the way by confessing known sins in your life. You should also claim the forgiveness and cleansing God promised in 1 John 1:9 that states, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
Once you have cleared the way, then you are ready to move on to the second condition for answered prayer.
2. Eliminate Your Idols
Ezekiel 14:3 says, "Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their hearts, and put the stumbling block of their iniquity before their face: should I be inquired of at all by them." Since those people had idols in their hearts, God asks, "Should they even pray to me at all?"
If you have idols in your hearts, you are putting them above God. Your idols cannot answer your prayers. So, if you want to get your prayers answered, then you must give up your idols. God will not compete with them.
3. Abide in Christ
John 15:7 says, "If you abide in me and my words abide in you, you shall ask what you will and it shall be done unto you." Notice there is a condition attached to Jesus' promise. John 17:5 is an "if...then" statement. "If you abide in me and my words abide in you" is your part of the verse. It is the condition. "Then you shall ask what you will and it shall be done unto you" is God's part of the verse which depends on you doing your part.
If you are not sure what abiding in Christ means, it is like a branch that receives its sustenance from a vine. The branch does not reach down into the earth to receive fertilizer and moisture, but the vine does through its roots. The branch has to abide in the vine in order to live and not wither.
If you want your prayers answered, then you must be like branches on a vine and yield to Christ for your spiritual growth.
4. Live a Righteous Life
James 5:16 states, "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." Therefore, if you want your prayers to be effectual and fervent, you must live a righteous life.
First Peter 3:12 states, "For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers." That means God's ears are not open to those who live wicked lives.
5. Be Obedient
First John 3:22 states, "And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him because we keep his commandments and do those things that are pleasing in his sight."
Obedience is a prerequisite to answered prayer. If we want our prayers answered, then we must be obedient. That means doing what God commands and not doing what He forbids. In other words, we must do what pleases God.
6. Have Faith
Mark 9:23 states, "Jesus said unto him, 'If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth." When we pray, we must believe God hears us and will answer our prayer. James 1:6-7 declares, "But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord." In other words, when you pray, believe you will receive and not waver.
One cannot expect to receive if he does not believe. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "They can conquer who believe they can." Henry Ford said, "If you think you can, you are right. If you think you can't, you are right again."
7. Have the Right Motives
James 4:3 says, "You ask, and receive not, because you ask amiss, that you may consume it upon your lusts." That means you have the wrong motives for praying for something.
You might be praying to satisfy your own selfish desires. When you pray for something, think about how it will glorify and honor God. You can expect an answer to your prayers if your motives are right.
8. According to God's Will
There is no need to pray for something that goes against the will of God. For instance, don't pray that God will give a wife to you who is married to someone else.
John 5:14-15 states, "And this it is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him." Those two verses clearly state that "if we ask anything according to the will of God, he hears us."
It is true that we don't always know the best things to pray for. One way to be sure what to pray for, we must be guided by the Holy Spirit. According to Romans 8:26, "The Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered."
If you want your prayers answered, then pray according to the will of God.
10. Be in Right Relationship with Others
God will not answer prayers if you are not in the right relationship with your family, friends, co-workers, boss, or church leaders. You can't be in a right relationship with others unless you are first in right relationship with God.
There are several scriptures in the Bible about being in the right relationships with others.
- “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love" (Ephesians 4:2).
- “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins" (1 Peter 4:5).
- “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you" (John 15:12).
- The Golden Rule in Matthew 7:12 is good for all relationships. It states, "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you: do ye even so to them."
10. Be Specific
John 14:13 states, "Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do." If you want your prayers answered, you must be specific. Use Hannah as an example. She knew exactly what she wanted, and she prayed for it.
In First Samuel 1:11, Hannah did not pray for a long list of things. She was specific and prayed for only one thing. She was barren and the one thing she wanted was a male child. "And she vowed a vow, and said, O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a male child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life."
If you want your prayers answered, you should be specific and ask God for exactly what you want instead of beating around the bush.
11. Don't Give Up
Jesus said in Matthew 7:7-8, "Ask, and it shall be given you. For every one that asketh receiveth." The word "ask" in the above scripture means to ask and keep on asking. Some people are convinced that we should pray for something only once. They say there is a lack of faith if someone prays for something more than once.
Paul prayed three times for the thorn to be removed from his flesh. God didn't remove the thorn. Instead, God told Paul, "My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9). Paul never prayed for the thorn to be removed again after God answered. He concluded, "Most gladly, therefore, will I rather glory in infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me" (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Jesus also prayed three times in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night of His arrest (Matthew 26:44). He finally said, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done" (Luke 22:42). Jesus is our example. Because He prayed for something more than once, we can do the same.
If you want your prayers answered, be like Paul and Jesus. Don't give up and stop praying. You do not have to limit the number of times you pray to only one time.
12. Thank God
You should thank God before your prayers are answered. Additionally, you should act as though you have what you have prayed for.
Some people make prayer requests, but they neglect to thank God before the prayer is answered, and many times they do not thank God after it has been answered. If you want God to answer your prayers, learn to thank Him in advance even before your prayer request is manifested.
Conditions to Answered Prayers
Keep in mind that the followings are conditions for answered prayers.
- Repent of your sins.
- Eliminate your idols.
- Abide in Christ.
- Live a righteous life.
- Be obedient.
- Have faith.
- Pray with the right motives.
- Pray according to God's will
- Be in the right relationship with others.
- Be specific.
- Don't give up.
- Thank God before the manifestation.