“Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” (1 John 5:14 NKJV).
God’s ability to answer our prayers is unquestionable. The Bible and history are replete with accounts and testimonies that prove beyond any reasonable doubt that God truly answers prayers. Not believing that God answers prayers is as worst as not believing in the existence of God.
Prayer is a divine communion between the Almighty God and feeble or mortal men. It is simply talking with God about everything. Prayer is a sincere communication or dialogue with God; it is not mere crying, talking or speaking to God.
Although prayer is simple, yet it has profound effects and produces amazing results. Prayer is powerful because the Almighty God has committed Himself to answering prayers. Prayer is never meant to be a last resort when all other things have failed; rather it is meant to be your first port of call in all situations or circumstances.
For the believers, prayer is not a matter of choice; it is a must, a command and a responsibility. We are not expected and commanded to pray daily, weekly or monthly, but always; for prayer is our lifeline. The Scripture commands us to “Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thess. 5:17 NKJV).
Prayer is not supposed to simply be a means of getting God’s attention and help when we are in crises or desperate situations, but a deep communion with God. Prayer is not meant to be a violent or aggressive reaction to an unpleasant situation, but an action inspired and directed by the Holy Spirit.
God is not a mercenary whose service is only needed in the days of battles against our enemies. Neither is God a waiter or steward at our beck and call, waiting on us to attend to all our whims and caprices.
Besides, God is not a multi-purpose machine or tool that we can pick up and use for quick fixes or to get urgent tasks done, but set aside when not needed. Approaching God’s presence is not the same as strolling into a shopping mall to pick up any goods we desire or fancy. Unfortunately today, there are many believers with these erroneous concepts of God and prayer.
Although you can pray anywhere, anytime, about or for anything; however, you cannot pray anyhow because God has given us in the Bible specific instructions and guidelines on how to pray effectively. When you pray anyhow, contrary to God-given principles of prayers in the New Testament, God is not bound to answer your prayers.
It is therefore imperative for us to understand basic truths or principles of prayer in the New Testament lest we waste our time and energy praying all manners of prayers that God will not answer, and so that we may avoid the accompanying frustration of unanswered prayers.
First, Prayer is a spiritual offering meant only to be offered to the Almighty God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth:
The Bible teaches that our prayers are like a spiritual offering and that God is the only One who is worthy of receiving the offering of our prayers.
3 Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. (NKJV).
While Peter was in prison, the Scripture testifies that “constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church.” (Acts 12:5 NKJV).
So, when your prayer is not directed to God, the Creator of all things, you are actually not praying.
Many people today who are praying to angels, prophets, statues or images of the saints of old are not just wasting their time and energy because they are praying wrongly; they are also committing idolatry and breaking God’s commandments (Exo. 20:3-5).
Second, Prayers to God are to be offered through and in the name of Jesus Christ:
Although we have several gods, religions and religious leaders in the world today presenting and parading themselves as a link, connection or access to God; there is only one true way, means or access to God presented to us in the Bible and approved of God.
The Lord Jesus publicly and clearly said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6 NKJV).
Jesus Christ is the only approved spiritual gateway to the throne of God (Heb. 10:19-22). God is only committed to answering prayers offered to Him in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ.
The Scripture amply attests to this truth.
1 Timothy 2:
5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus. (NKJV).
12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. (NKJV).
13 And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
14 If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. (NKJV).
16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. (NKJV).
23 Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. (NKJV).
Prayer becomes a futile exercise that ends in failure and frustration if it is not directed to God the Father through and in the name of God the Son, Jesus Christ, and by the guidance and help of God the Holy Spirit.
Third, God does not answer prayers that are contrary to His perfect will, plans or purposes:
Although God has all the power, means and resources to answer all your prayers and grant all your requests, yet He will not answer any prayer that is not in alignment with His perfect will, plan and purpose for your life.
The Scripture clearly states this truth in 1 John 5:
14 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. (NKJV).
Beloved, it is not the loudness of your voice, the enormity or urgency of your needs, the volume and frequency of your prayers, or your gesticulation, or desperation in prayers that God considers before answering your prayers, but His perfect will, plan and purpose for your life in the situation.
Therefore, you will save yourself from untold frustration if you first seek to know and understand God’s perfect will, plan and purpose in a situation before you begin to pray.
How do you know God’s perfect will, plan and purpose in a given situation?
Renew your mind according to the truths of God’s Word!
When you begin to renew your mind through diligent and prayerful meditation in God’s Word, it will not be difficult for you to discern, recognize or understand God’s perfect mind or will in any situation.
Paul attests to this truth in Romans 12:
2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (NLT).
Beloved, when you begin to think according to the truths of God’s Word, you will begin to know, discern and recognize the good, pleasing and perfect will of God and then you will begin to pray rightly, according to God’s good, pleasing and perfect will for your life and situation.
Find out more New Testament principles of prayer in the second part of this piece!
Prayer: My Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the privilege to commune with You anytime, anywhere and about anything. Dear Holy Spirit, teach and help me daily to be more sensitive and receptive to You so that I may begin to pray according to God’s good, pleasing and perfect will, in Jesus’ name. Amen.