Many of us learned how to pray from listening to others, but how do we know if our prayers are heard? God tells us how to talk to him in order to be heard.
God is a father and desires a dialog with his children. Scripture says that “men must always pray” (Luke 18:1, 1 Tim 2:8). In order to pray effectively, we need to prepare and follow the teachings of Jesus.
1. Prepare yourself
- Humility goes a long way. God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). Don’t be conceited (Romans 12:3, Luke 18:11).
- Consider your motives. You should be praying to hear, obey, and grow. You should not pray to feel righteous, super spiritual, or for fleshy reasons (James 4:3). Also, if you’re not willing to obey, why should God speak to you at all?
- Renew your mind (Romans 12). Align your thoughts with God’s mind through Bible study. With a godly mind, you’ll be better at discerning his voice and understanding his responses.
- Husbands must honor their wives so their prayers aren’t hindered (1 Peter 3:7).
- Reconcile any differences with the fellow saints before approaching God (Matthew 5:23-29).
2. Pray as Jesus taught
Jesus said in Matthew 6:5-15:
5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.
9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses (Matthew 6:5-15).
Here are a few things we can pull from what Jesus said about prayer. I want to mention that this is a template and not something to be recited verbatim.
Here are some Dont’s:
- Don’t pray just to be seen. Performance prayers are rejected by God.
- Don’t pray long prayers to impress people. Prayer can be long or short. See also: Matt 23:14, Lk 20:47.
- Don’t pray with empty repetition. Talk to God like a person.
Here are some Do’s:
- Pray in private.
- Pray for the kingdom’s agenda first.
- Pray for what you need second.
- Pray to escape temptation (Matt 26:42, Mark 14:38, Luke 21:36).
- Pray for understanding if you “pray in tongues” (1 Cor 14:13-15).
- Pray for your enemies (Matt 5:44).
- Pray that God sends laborers (Matt 9:38).
- Pray in Jesus name: John 14:13-14; 15:7,16, John 16:23-24
- Pray with help from the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:26, Jude 1:20)
Lastly, be confident your heavenly father hears you and that you’ll get what you ask for if it’s in his will (1 John 5:14-15). Next, I will talk about the most important part of the prayer: hearing from God.