Why do so few receive answers to prayers? Here are some insights.
God is serious about our prayers if we are. Many pray, but few truly receive favourable answers to their prayers. Prayer is not casting words into the air and hoping for a good return. The results of wishful thinking are very different from those of faith-filled prayer. The proof is in the pudding! So, if you are looking for ways to get your prayers answered favourably, then here are some things you need to know and adopt to boost your faith and increase the blessings of God that you pray for.
There are three types of prayer:
- Religious prayer
- Self-fulfilled prayer
- Word-based faith-filled prayer
This is that prayer which is performed religiously. It has no real heart or purpose, but the petitioner has a mild hope – or wishful thinking that by praying prayers by route, chants, cliché professions, etc. God will give him a favorable audience. But Jesus said that this type of prayer bears no fruit (Mat 6:7).
The truth is that God always hears our prayers. He is omnipresent and therefore hears, sees and knows everything (Mat 6:8). He must, or else how could He be the Eternal Judge? But does He hear any of these prayers and answer them favorably?
God hates religious prayers (and religious ceremonies) (Isa 1:14) where the petitioner has no real heart for God or for the prayers they are offering. They pray for selfish reasons, and these types of prayer receive no positive answer from God (Mat 15:8-9).
Some will say that their prayers are often, or even always answered. However, I have also come to witness that many of these so-called answers were obtained through self-effort. In fact, what some say they have received by prayer is very doubtful to have had any active involvement of God at all.
Such people know deep within that they have little to no favor with God and therefore must work their own answers. Here, they pray for something that they want from God (sometimes publicly) so that when they obtain it (by their own hand) they can justify it as being a “blessing from God”. A new car or holiday that they can’t afford, or an unnecessary career, or home move, and other such extravagances fit into this kind of prayer. This method won’t get your prayers answered.
Word-based faith-filled prayer
Prayer is the only medium we have with which to communicate with God, so that He will act on our behalf and to meet our needs where we are unable. Furthermore, God loves to respond faithfully to His people’s prayers. He loves the fellowship that true prayer brings, and is glorified in their manifested answers (Joh 15:8). But we need to learn how to pray aright.
Pray right and receive right
The principles of praying right to receive right are not complicated. If we remove self from the equation, and replace it with the purpose of glorifying God, we will be able to solve all the problems that hinder our prayers, and receive that for which we ask.
How to pray aright and get your prayers answered
Believe that God is, and is a rewarder
Believe that God is, and is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Heb 11:6). Without the elementary belief in the existence of God in His omnipresent form, faith in His love and that He will reward our faith, we have no starting point. God rewards faith-filled prayer because He loves us and is pleased that we receive from Him. He wants to be our provider as a loving father who has means and loves to provide for his children.
Having our prayers answered glorifies God (Joh 15:8). This glory is what supports all moral beings as partakers, and is be covered in my post Why should God get all the glory? Let us be encouraged to pray in faith knowing that God is right here for us, His children, and willing to give us what we need. For without this faith it is impossible to please Him.
Pray at all times in the Spirit (Eph 6:18)
What does this mean?
God is Spirit and in this state, is omnipresent. For us to pray successfully we need to realize this fact. Not only is God omnipresent in the natural sphere, but also in the spiritual realm. Nothing escapes His presence (Pro 15:3). Our desires, thoughts and motives are all laid bare before the eyes of the Lord. So, to pray in the Spirit is to pray with this conscious understanding that we are in the presence of God, and we do this in faith, which has been ignited and fanned into flame by the knowledge of Him through His Word.
Pray in the Name of Jesus, not in clichés
We need to understand the difference between tagging religious clichés of “in the name of Jesus” at the end of our prayers, and praying in the name of Jesus. These are two different things altogether. The first is religiosity. It is a cliché that many like to add to prayers in the belief that somehow it authenticates our prayers with God (Mat 6:7). But this is not how you will get your prayers answered.
When the apostles would do something “in the Name of Jesus” they used the expression as a confession of whose power and authority was being revealed. Miracles, signs and wonders were performed by these great men of faith, and they confessed that it was through the power of Jesus that they were being performed.
However, nowhere in the Bible did men of God authenticate their prayers by tagging on “in the name of Jesus” at the end. They addressed God as Father (Mat 6:9), Lord (Act 1:24), and Jesus (Act 7:59), among other titles.
So, what does it mean when Jesus commanded us to pray in His name?(Joh 14:13-14).
Praying in the name of Jesus is praying under the authority of that name
Praying in the name of Jesus Christ is praying under that authority. Jesus came in the authority of the Father (Joh 5:43), but He did not attach: “in the name of the Father” to His prayers. Rather, He addressed the Father directly in prayer (Joh 17:1). It is through Christ that we are in a right position to pray to the Father. Without surrendering to the lordship of Christ first, i.e. abiding in Him, we can achieve nothing (Joh 15:5). Whoever rejects the Son also rejects the Father (Luk 10:16). Therefore, praying in the name of Jesus is recognizing, abiding, and having our being in that name (Act 17:28 KJV).
God knows those who are in His name
God knows those who are in the name of His Son (2Ti 2:19). Therefore, it is superfluous for us, when addressing the Father, to cliché our prayers with the Name. Should one believe in a false deity and then try to come to God Almighty for favor they would be praying in vain because they would be rejecting the only means by which we can approach God (Joh 14:6). For they would not be coming to God in the name of Jesus. Consequently, their prayers would not be heard with favor from God.
We who are His, acknowledge and receive the gift of His Son to be reconciled to Him. This we demonstrate by our holy conduct of life. But tagging the name of Jesus at the end of our prayers, especially if we have rejected loving obedience towards Him and His Word, wins no points with God.
Pray according to the will of God
This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 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 (1Jn 5:14-15). Therefore, before we pray we ought to ensure that we are in God’s will. But how do we know?
- God’s general will for us
Through reading God’s Word, we come to understand His general will for our lives, and get to know His holy nature. By this we can determine much of what is and what is not His will. Whatever we pray for against His revealed will He will not grant.
- God’s specific will for us
Through loving obedience to His revealed will in His word, and through prayer, He gives us His Holy Spirit to reveal His specific will for our lives. The more time we spend getting to know God in communion, the more we will be able to discern His specific will for our lives. Thus, when we come to Him in prayer for the fulfillment of His discerned will, we shall have the confidence and faith to receive whatever we need from Him (1Jn 3:21).
Pray in faith
This may seem simple enough, but without actually believing that you will receive your answer, God cannot grant your petition. For without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:6). Jesus said that when we pray we are to believe that we have actually received and then we will receive it.
(Mar 11:24). This means that we are to believe that our prayers have already been answered when we pray. There is no waiting to respond with God. The very instant we apply our faith He answers.
Now the realization of the answer may take time, but it is always in accordance with our faith. Jesus prayed for the disciples to be one, as He and the Father were one. And even though He must have received the assurance of it immediately, it took time to manifest. In this case it was after His ascension. We are to pray believing that we will receive and wait for its arrival. (See more under the sub-heading Watch the flight of the arrow below).
Walk in loving obedience
When we walk in loving obedience our conscience reinforces our faith to receive. If we think that we can obtain favor from God whilst walking in known sin we fool ourselves. Those who turn away from obeying God’s Word will not be heard favorably by God in prayer (Pro 28:9). (See also Jon 9:31). When we walk in known sin, we cannot exercise faith to receive from God. This is because the Holy Spirit is not quickened within us. God cannot fellowship with us because our sin separates us from Him (Isa 59:2). Furthermore, should we then attempt to come to God in prayer, our hearts will condemn us, thus making it impossible for us to exercise real faith to believe that God will grant us our petition (1John 3:21-22). (Suggested reading: How do we know if we are saved?)
Watch the flight of the arrow
What do we do once we have prayed?
When we pray to God we are mindful of Him and His presence. We pray with specific purpose. For God can do nothing with random prayer.
Praying is like shooting an arrow. We do not shoot our prayers aimlessly into the air. When any good archer shoots his arrow, he first draws the bow, anchors his string hand, aims, takes a breath and holds it, considers distance, wind, trajectory, etc. Then he releases. But he does not stop here. As his arrow leaves the bow he watches its path to see if it hits the mark. If he misses, he analyses his shortfall and realigns for another shot.
…In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch.
Praying is similar. Before we offer our prayers up to God we should be thoughtful for what we are going to ask. Then after presenting our requests to Him we wait watchfully for the result (Ps. 5:3). If we miss the mark and do not receive, we analyse where we went wrong through the Word and prayer for wisdom (Jas 1:5), adjust our prayer (or intention) and pray again.
Sincerity, patience and perseverance are what cause success in all aspects of life. Prayer is no different. Practice the disciplines of praying aright and you will get your prayers answered favorably by God.
Let me know your thoughts on the above at firstname.lastname@example.org