One of the greatest priveledges of the Christian life is being able to talk to God, knowing that He hears and answers our prayers. Prayer should be a daily part of life. In fact, we should spend much time in prayer – not just a few minutes in the morning or evening. The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, “pray without ceasing”. Now, that doesn’t of course mean that we spend all day on our knees and never do anything but pray. No, that simply means that we live our life in deep awareness and surrender to God, so that at any moment, we can simply talk to God like we would talk to any other friend who would happen to be with us.
I know many people, when they talk about prayer, say “I pray, but God never answers?” Well, there are conditions which must be met in our lives before God will answer our prayers. We can not just go around living any way we want to, doing whatever we want, and then expect God to answer us when we suddenly need Him. Prayer is not just asking God for stuff. Prayer is to be a way of life, where we talk to God all the time. We step outside and see a beautiful sunrise and say “Wow…thank you God for creating such a beautiful morning!” We see God protect us from harm and we thank Him for that. We see someone who has a need, and we don’t have the means to help them at the moment, so we pray that God will provide their need. We come to a point where we need to make a decision or choice and we say, “God, give me wisdom here….” So, you see – all throughout the day, prayer is constant communion with God. That’s how our prayer life should be.
There are also two main conditions we must meet for God to answer our prayers:
1. We must abide in Him and pray according to His will.
2. We must have no unconfessed and continuing sins in our lives.
Jesus said in John 15:7, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” To abide in Him means that our lives no longer belong to us, but they belong to God now, and our main purpose and goal in life is to please and honor Him. Jesus Christ now becomes the center of our life. Everything is now about pleasing Him, knowing Him more, and obeying His commandments.
I John 3:22 tells us, “whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him” Again, it is clear that if we obey Him and please Him, we have the confidence that He will answer our prayers. A lot of times, our prayers don’t get answered simply because we are not praying according to God’s will – we are praying according to our own desires and wants. James 4:3 alerts us to this when it says, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.” As a Christian, we belong to God now – and since we belong to Him, our desires and wants must be His desires and wants. It’s all about pleasing and honoring Him!
If we are not seeking to always obey His commandments and do what is right, God is not obligated to hear or answer our prayers. Look at what the prophet Isaiah wrote in Isaiah 59:1-2, “Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.” It is highly important that we seek to obey Him. And when we do sin, to confess and seek to forsake that sin.
When Jesus was teaching His disciples to pray, He started this way, “Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven…” Notice how everything is about God. “Your name”, “Your Kingdom”, “Your will”. And when we talk to God, it must be with that attitude. Everything is about pleasing and honoring Him. That is to be our life as a Christian. That is how we abide in Him. And remember, John 15:7, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” As long as we keep the right perspective, live a life pleasing to Him, obey His commandments, and seek to bring glory to His name, He will hear and answer our prayers, and our fellowship with Him each day will be a delight and joy.
How is your relationship with Him? Have you made Him number one in your life? Is everything you desire and seek after all about pleasing and obeying Him?