Prayers that get answered – Joyce Meyer
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.”Philippians 4:6
Prayer is our greatest Christian privilege but — we may as well admit — our greatest Christian failure. All of us need to learn to pray more and to pray better. But one of the reasons we don’t pray better than we do, or any more than we do, is that we have questions about prayer. These questions cause us uncertainty. Then our uncertainty sometimes neutralizes us and we become hesitant about prayer.
What was the first thing the Early Church did after Jesus’ ascension? “They returned to Jerusalem…to an upper room” and “continued with one accord in prayer and supplication…” (Acts 1:12-14).
Even a casual reading of the book of Acts confirms how totally the disciples depended upon prayer — how they dared not make a move without committing to prayer, seeking God for His guidance and deliverance through prayer.
“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42).
“Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer…” (Acts 3:1).
If those who walked alongside our Lord for three years were dependent upon prayer, how much more so are we? What a grave mistake we make if we are casual about our prayer life.
One of the questions most often asked about prayer is: Why should we pray when God already knows our needs? Why tell God what He already knows or ask Him to do what He already wants to do?
Thank God we don’t have to understand prayer in order to pray. Yet, there are some consistent valid questions people have concerning prayer, but these must not hinder us from relying upon it.
First, here are two reasons we don’t pray:
• We don’t pray to impress God. We’re not heard for our “much-speaking.” You don’t have to use poetic language or be an amateur Shakespeare. If an earthly child can speak to an earthly father, you can speak to your Heavenly Father. We’re told to cry out to Him as our “Abba” Father — literally translated, “Daddy.” (Romans 8:15, Galatians 4:6). We’re not praying to impress Him.
• We don’t pray to inform God. You can’t tell God anything He doesn’t know.
So if we don’t pray to impress or inform God, why then do we pray?
We Pray to Invite God
It’s very important to understand this: we are inviting God into our lives when we pray.
When we pray, we experience —
• Fellowship. We become “workers together with Him” (2 Corinthians 6:1). When we pray, God gives us the joy and privilege of administrating His kingdom, His affairs — working together with Him. He could do it without us. We could not
do it without Him. But what a glory that God allows us the privilege of doing it with Him!
• Development. When we pray, God is growing us. Have you ever prayed and didn’t receive immediately what you asked for? What did you do? You kept on praying, but you also began to search your heart and life to see if something was hindering God’s answer. Many times there is. God uses prayer to grow us.
• Dependency. God never wants us to live lives independent of Him. If God just did everything for us and we never had to pray, soon we would begin to take things for granted. We would cease to depend upon God.
Prayer Binds Us to God
That’s why we tell God what He already knows. He knows what we have need of before we ask, but we’re definitely, specifically, unqualifiedly told to pray and to ask — not to impress or inform God, but to invite God, so that we might have that fellowship with Him, so that we might grow, and we would learn to depend upon Him.
Does God hear the prayers of the unbelievers? Will He answer prayer requests of the unsaved? If someone is not a Christian, will God still answer their prayer? Is there any hope for God answering prayers for those who don’t believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior?
Praying in God’s Will
It is clear from scripture that God not only hears prayers of His saints, but that He also answers their prayers. God says to Christians that He will listen to your prayers. He will also answer your prayers. In fact, God tells the believer that they can come to His heavenly throne boldly and ask Him for help (Hebrews 4:16). But our prayers must be in alliance with God’s own, perfect will (Matt. 26:39). Sometimes the answer is no, at other times the answer is different from what we ask for because He knows what we need better than we do. What we want and what we need is not the same thing.
God Hears and Answers the Believers
Luke 11:9-10 says that if it is His will we can “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Further, in Psalm 34:17 He says “The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.” In fact God tells His people to pour out our hearts to him, for God is our refuge (Psalm 62:8).
When God Doesn’t Answer a Christian’s Prayer
God will not answer the prayers of believers if they are living in unrepentant sin or fail to forgive others. Matthew 6:12, 14-15 makes it plain that even a Christian’s prayer may not be heard as Jesus testifies by saying that we are to “…forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Therefore, a believer that is living in sin or fails to forgive others has their prayers blocked since they are out of fellowship with the Father. They will never lose their relationships but continual sin can affect their fellowship. If my children continue to be willfully disobedient, they must understand that I am not going to grant their requests since they are not doing what I ask them to do. God will never answer the prayer of a Christian while they are regarding sin in their heart (Psalm 66:18).
Does God Hear Unbeliever’s Prayers?
Now let’s answer the question as to whether it does any good for someone who is not a Christian to pray to God and expect Him to hear and answer their prayers. The Bible clearly says that God will not answer prayer requests of those who are not saved nor will He even listen to their prayers (John 9:31). Believers have had their sins forgiven but those who are not Christian are separated from God by their sin (Isaiah 59:2). I Peter 3:12 plainly says that God will hear a believer’s prayer but not those of the unsaved: “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
Proverbs 1:26-29 speaks to everyone who does not believe in Him and gives a warning for those who don’t that “…when disaster strikes you; I will mock when calamity overtakes you— when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you. Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me, since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the LORD.”
How Can You Be Heard By God Today?
With all the natural disasters in the world today, He is asking you today to come to Him and accept Jesus Christ as Lord. Then He will hear and answer your prayer. You can know for sure that your prayers make it to His ears and that He will answer you. Psalm 17:6 gives you all the reassurance you need if you become a child of His that He will hear and He will answer your prayers: “I call on you, O God, for you will answer me; give ear to me and hear my prayer.” It is my hope and prayer that you will become a child of His today:
Admit you are a sinner and you are in need of forgiveness and that you repent of your own way.
Believe that Jesus Christ is the One and Only way and that He died for your sins and was raised from the dead.
Confess with your mouth and from your heart that Jesus is Lord and Savior and confess Him to others who are lost.
With that being said, does God hear the prayers of unbelievers?
Well, because he is omnipresent (present in all places at all times) he does, in a sense, hear the prayers of all people, including unbelievers. However, it’s only in Christ that we have the privilege to enter God’s presence (John 14:6).
Therefore, God does not listen with an attentive ear to the prayers of those outside of Christ. His ear is only attentive towards those who are permitted to enter his presence (Psalm 5:4), and that is only granted in Jesus, who is perfectly righteous (2 Corinthians 5:21). Apart from Christ, God may hear our prayer, but we should not expect him to answer. In Christ, we may approach God with boldness (Hebrews 4:16).
With that being said, there are plenty of reasons God would not hear the prayers of someone who is a believer.
God is sovereign and can choose to answer any prayer He sees fit. But Scripture clearly indicates that God does not listen to or answer every prayer. In fact, Scripture gives at least fifteen reasons for unanswered prayer. God does not answer the prayer of those:
1) Who have personal and selfish motives.
You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures (James 4:3).
2) Who regard iniquity in their hearts.
If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear (Psalm 66:18).
3) Who remain in sin.
But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear (Isaiah 59:2). Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him (John 9:31).
4) Who offer unworthy service to God.
“You are presenting defiled food upon My altar. But you say, ‘How have we defiled You?’ In that you say, ‘The table of the LORD is to be despised.’ But when you present the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you present the lame and sick, is it not evil? Why not offer it to your governor? Would he be pleased with you? Or would he receive you kindly?” says the LORD of hosts. “But now will you not entreat God’s favor, that He may be gracious to us? With such an offering on your part, will He receive any of you kindly?” says the LORD of hosts.
5) Who forsake God.
Thus says the Lord to this people: “Thus they have loved to wander; They have not restrained their feet. Therefore the Lord does not accept them; He will remember their iniquity now, And punish their sins.” Then the Lord said to me, “Do not pray for this people, for their good. When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I will not accept them. But I will consume them by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence (Jeremiah 14:10-12).
6) Who reject God’s call.
Because I [Wisdom] have called and you refused, I have stretched out my hand and no one regarded, Because you disdained all my counsel, And would have none of my rebuke…. Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently, but they will not find me (Proverbs 1:24-25, 28).
7) Who will not heed God’s law.
One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination (Proverbs 28:9). “But they refused to heed, shrugged their shoulders, and stopped their ears so that they could not hear. Yes, they made their hearts like flint, refusing to hear the law and the words which the Lord of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets. Thus great wrath came from the Lord of hosts. Therefore it happened, that just as He proclaimed and they would not hear, so they called out and I would not listen,” says the Lord of hosts. (Zechariah 7:11-13).
8) Who turn a deaf ear to the cry of the poor.
Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, Will also cry himself and not be heard. (Proverbs 21:13).
9) Who are violent.
When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood (Isaiah 1:15; see also 59:2-3).
10) Who worship idols.
Therefore thus says the Lord: “Behold, I will surely bring calamity on them which they will not be able to escape; and though they cry out to Me, I will not listen to them. Then the cities of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem will go and cry out to the gods to whom they offer incense, but they will not save them at all in the time of their trouble. For according to the number of your cities were your gods, O Judah; and according to the number of the streets of Jerusalem you have set up altars to that shameful thing, altars to burn incense to Baal. So do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer for them; for I will not hear them in the time that they cry out to Me because of their trouble.” (Jeremiah 11:11-14; see also Ezekiel 8:15-18).
11) Who have no faith.
But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord (James 1:6-7).
12) Who are living in hypocrisy.
Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy (Luke 12:1).
13) Who are proud of heart.
14) Who are self-righteous.
The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, “God, I thank You that I am not like other men-extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.” And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted (Luke 18:11-14).
15) Who mistreat God’s people.
You have also given me the necks of my enemies, So that I destroyed those who hated me. They cried out, but there was none to save; Even to the Lord, but He did not answer them (Psalm 18:40-41).You who hate good and love evil; Who strip the skin from My people, And the flesh from their bones; Who also eat the flesh of My people, Flay their skin from them, Break their bones, And chop them in pieces, Like meat for the pot, Like flesh in the caldron. Then they will cry to the Lord, But He will not hear them; He will even hide His face from them at that time, Because they have been evil in their deeds (Micah 3:2-4).
So, does God answer the prayers of unbelievers? A strict yes or no answer is difficult without qualifying the answer in various ways. However, it is noteworthy that the above mentioned principles represent some of the key characteristics of an unbeliever. Thus we can safely say that, in general, God does not answer the prayers of an unbeliever.
The Purpose of Prayer
Step 4: The Christian and Prayer
- The Purpose of Prayer
- To Whom Should We Pray?
- A Guide to Effective Daily Prayer
- How to Pray with Power
- God’s Promises About Prayer
- Planning Your Daily Devotional Time
Jesus set the perfect example of obedience in prayer.
Although His day was filled from morning to night with many pressures and responsibilities — addressing crowds, healing the sick, granting private interviews, traveling, and training His disciples — He made prayer a top priority. If Jesus was so dependent upon His fellowship in prayer alone with His Father, how much more you and I should spend time alone with God.
The lives of the disciples and other Christians who have been mightily used of God through the centuries to reach their world for Christ all testify to the necessity of prayer. They are examples of obedience to our Lord’s command to pray.
Someone has wisely said, “Satan laughs at our toiling, mocks our wisdom, but trembles when he sees the weakest saint on his knees.” Prayer is God’s appointed way of doing God’s work.
This lesson will help you understand why prayer is so important to our Christian life. Study the lesson carefully, taking time to meditate and apply the principles you will learn.
Read John 14:13, I Thessalonians 5:17, Acts 4:23-33, and Matthew 9:38.
- Identify at least 3 reasons for prayer.
The Apostle’s Motive
Read Acts 4.
- What problems did the Apostles face and why did they not ask God to remove the persecution?
- For what did they pray? (Verse 29) Why is this significant?
- What was their real motive? (John 14:13)
Your Motives for Praying
On the basis of your personal experience, list at least 4 reasons you pray.
God’s Motives in Teaching Us About Prayer
Read John 3:5-8 and 4:23-24.
- In what form does God exist and what must happen to us before we can have fellowship with Him? What kind of worship does He desire, and what is His delight? (Proverbs 15:8)
- List some purposes of prayer from each of the following Bible references: Matthew 7:7 , Matthew 26:41, Luke 18:1.
- From your understanding of these passages, what do you think God wants you to realize about Him?
Prayer Meets the Heart’s Needs
- According to 2 Corinthians 3:5, what is the source of the Christian’s sufficiency? How do you tap into that source?
- Read Psalm 63. Note the elements of worship and write below the word or phrase that describes how we should worship God; include references (for example, “My soul thirsts for you – Psalm 63:1”).
- What conclusions can you now make concerning your relationship with God in prayer?
- Begin a prayer list. Keep a record of the things for which you pray.
To Whom Should We Pray?
Step 4: The Christian and Prayer
Because the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit work in perfect unity and harmony, each has a specific role in our prayers. The writer of the book of Hebrews said, “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence (boldness), so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)
But how do we approach the most powerful presence in the Universe? Do we pray directly to Him? Do we pray to Jesus Christ and ask Him to present our needs to the Father? How can we even approach such a holy God with boldness?
In this lesson you will learn why all three persons in the Godhead are active in our prayers and why each person performs a separate, but interconnecting role.
To Whom Do We Pray?
- According to Matthew 6:6, to whom should we pray?
- From the following passages, give general reasons for your answer: I Chronicles 29:11-2, Matthew 6:9, John 16:23.
- Meditate on the principles contained in the following excerpt from How to Pray by R.A. Torrey:
But some will say, “Is not all prayer unto God?” No. Very much so-called prayer, both public and private, is not unto God. In order that a prayer should be really unto God, there must be a definite and conscious approach to God when we pray; we must have a definite and vivid realization that God is bending over us and listening as we pray.
In much of our prayer there is little thought of God. Our mind is not taken up with the thought of the mighty and loving Father. We are occupied neither with the need nor with the one to whom we are praying , but our mind is wandering here and there throughout the world. When we really come into God’s presence, really meet Him face to face in the place of prayer, really seek the things that we desire from Him, then there is power.
How do you approach God when you pray? How can you better focus your attention on Him?
Think about a time when you particularly sensed God’s presence when you prayed. What made this time of prayer different than others? Why?
Through Whom Should We Pray?
- Read John 14:6 and I Timothy 2:5. How many mediators are there between God and man? Who is the mediator?
- On the basis of Hebrews 4:14-16, describe the qualifications of our great High Priest.
- What are the requirements for a prayer relationship according to I John 3:21-23.
- What does unconfessed sin in our lives do to our prayer fellowship with God? (Psalm 66:18)
- God’s Word promises in I John 1:9 that if we confess our sins He will forgive us. The word “confess” means to “agree with.” This involves naming our sins to God, acknowledging that He has already forgiven us through Christ’s death on the cross, and repenting of our sins (turning away from or changing our attitude toward them).
- God honors those who truly pray in His Son’s name. What is the promise recorded in John 15:16 and 16:23. What did Jesus promise in John 14:12-14.
- The name of Jesus means everything to God. He lifted Jesus to the highest place in the Heavenly sphere and elevated His name far above all others in Heaven and on Earth. From the following passages, describe the significance and standing given to the name of Jesus: John 20:31, Acts 2:28, 3:6,16; 4:10,19, 30, 19:17, Mark 9:37, Philippians 2:5-11.
- Improperly used, the name of Jesus does not bring results. To many people, the name of Jesus has become a powerless incantation, a run-together phrase, leaving them bewildered over unanswered prayer. According to the following verses, how can we use Jesus’ name properly and receive our answer from God? (I John 5:13-15, Ephesians 5:20, Colossians 3:17, John 4:3, 14:13, 15:16-17)
Follow these steps for confessing your sins:
- Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any sin in your life.
- Write it down on a piece of paper.
- Confess the sin to God and asking Him to forgive you.
- Receive His forgiveness by faith according to I John 1:9.
- Write the verse across the sin.
- Throw away the paper.
- List any new insights into prayer that you have gained from this lesson.
- Describe how you will use these insights to have a more well rounded prayer-life.
- Write down at least one new way in which you want to apply prayer in your life right now.
A Guide to Effective Daily Prayer
Step 4: The Christian and Prayer
Effective prayer cannot be reduced to a magic formula. God does not respond to our requests because we have the right ritual. He is more interested in our hearts than in our words. John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim’s Progress, said, “In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart.”
God’s Word does, however, give us certain basic elements that, when included in our communiction with God, will enable us to receive His answers to our prayers.
In this lesson we will consider a simple guide that you can use in your daily devotional time:
The guide can easily be remembered by the first letter of each word: ACTS.
- Why should we praise God? (Jeremiah 32:17, I John 4:10, Philippians 1:6)
- What is the best way for you to show your gratitude toward God, and your faith and trust in Him in all circumstances? (Philippians 4:6) What would you conclude that God expects of us? (I Thessalonians 5:16-18)
- How do you communicate your adoration to God?
- Read Isaiah 59:1-2. What will hinder fellowship with God?
- Psalm 51 was David’s prayer after he had fallen out of fellowship with God. What did David conclude that God wanted of Him? (Psalm 51:6,16-17)
- Read Psalm 32:1-7. What was David’s observation about confession? What was his obeservation about not confessing his sin? (Verses 3 & 4)
- What should you do when you find that your fellowship with God is broken? (I John 1:9) What sin in your life is keeping you from fellowship with God? How do you deal with that sin?
- Let us never be guilty of being ungrateful to God. How often should we give thanks? (Hebrews 13:15) For what should we praise Him? (Ephesians 5:20) Why? (I Thessalonians 5:18)
- What about a situation that seems adverse? (Romans 5:3-4)
- How do you practice thankfulness when you pray? As you go about your daily life?
- Make a list of each problem, disappointment, heartache, or adversity that concerns you. Begin to thank God for each one. Doing so demonstrates your trust in Him.
- Intercession. An example of intercession is provided in Colossians 1:3. What was Paul’s prayer for the Christians of Colosse?
Many times our efforts in leading people to Christ are fruitless because we forget the necessary preparation for witnessing. The divine order is to first talk to God about men, and then talk to men about God. If we follow this order, we will see results. Prayer really is the place where people are won to Christ; witnessing is just gathering in the results of prayer. As you meditate on the above, list the requests you can make to God for Christians and non-Christians.
- Petition. Why should we expect God to answer our prayers? (Matthew 7:9-11, Romans 8:32)
According to Psalm 84:11-12, what has God promised to do?
What part does belief have in our prayers? (Mark 11:24, James 1:6-7)
Faith is necessary, what else? (Matthew 6:9-10, I John 5:14-15)
- Why will God not answer some prayers? (James 4:3) How does this relate to your prayer life?
- Explain II Corinthains 12:7-10 in light of Romans 8:28. What does this teach us about apparently unanswered prayer?
- Add other requests to the prayer list you began at the end of Lesson 1.
- Begin using the ACTS system for prayer during your daily time alone with God. Note here how your prayers have changed.
- List daily situations in which you could use praise and thanksgiving to help you react in a godly manner.
Now follow through by apply praise and thanksgiving in these circumstances.
How to Pray with Power
Step 4: The Christian and Prayer
Jonathon Goforth was a man of powerful prayer. It is said of him that once he felt assured of God’s will in prayer, he would continue in the power of prayer until the thing was accomplished.
Andrew Murray, too, was a great prayer warrior. He wrote in The Praying Christian: “The Christian needs strength. This we all know. The Christian has no strength of his own. This is also true.”
Where may strength be obtained? Notice the answer: “Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” (Ephesians 6:10)
Paul had spoken of this power in the earlier part of his epistle to the Ephesians (1:18-20). He had prayed to God to give them the Spirit that they might know the exceeding greatness of His power according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead.
This is the literal truth: The greatness of His power, which raised Christ from the dead, works in every believer. In me and you, my reader. We hardly believe it, and still less do we experience it.
That is why Paul prays, and we must pray with Him, that God through His Spirit would teach us to believe in His almighty power. Pray with all your heart: “Father, grant me the Spirit of wisdom, that I may experience this power in my life.”
Pray for God’s Spirit to enlighten your eyes. Believe in the divine power working within you. Pray that the Holy Spirit may reveal it to you, and appropriate the promise that God will manifest His power in your heart, supplying all your needs.
Do you not begin to realize that time is needed — much time in fellowship with the Father and Son, if you would experience the power of God within you?
Power for Answered Prayer
- Read Acts 12:5-18.
How did Peter’s fellow Christians respond to his imprisonment? (Verse 5)
What was God’s answer to their prayer? (Verses 6-11)
What was their response to God’s answer? (Verses 13-16)
How does seeing God answer your prayers in a powerful way change your feelings about prayer?
- What do the following Bible references tell you about the qualities God demands in a person for powerful prayer? (Hebrews 11:1,6, Romans 12:1,2, Mark 11:25, I John 3:22, Ephesians 5:18)
Conditions to Answered Prayer
- Why is it necessary to ask in accordance with the will of God? (I John 5:14-15)
- Write out John 15:7 in your own words and state what it teaches about conditions to answered prayer.
- What is the value of several Christians praying for something as opposed to just one? (Matthew 18:19)
During his lifetime, George Mueller recorded more than 50,000 answers to prayer. He prayed for two men daily for more than 60 years. One of these men was converted shortly before Mueller’s death and the other about a year later. As in Mueller’s experience, we do not always see the answer to our prayers. We must leave the results to God.
One of the great needs of today is for men and women who will begin to pray for things and then pray repeatedly until they obtain what they seek from the Lord.
- How long do you think we should pray for someone or something? (Luke 18:1-8)
Why do you think God honors prevailing prayer?
What part do our feelings play in prevailing prayer?
- What did the following men accomplish through prayer?
Moses (Exodus 15:22-25)
Samson (Judges 16:28-30)
Peter (Acts 9:36-41)
Elijah (James 5:17-18)
- How do these examples help you gain greater confidence to pray? Give an example of what God has done for you or someone you know as the result of prevailing prayer.
- Examine your prayer life in light of the conditions for answered prayer. What conditions are lacking for you to have open communication with God? How much do you really believe and trust God when you pray?
- Write down one prayer request for which you are having to exercise “prevailing prayer.”
- List two Scripture verses that you can claim in relation to this prayer request.
God’s Promises About Prayer
Step 4: The Christian and Prayer
It is estimated that there are more than 5,000 personal promises in the Bible. However, these promises mean little or nothing to many Christians because they do not claim them by faith. (Hebrews 4:2)
Faith is a word signifying action. For example, bags of cement sitting in a warehouse will never become concrete until they are mixed with sand, gravel, and water. Likewise, God’s promises will never become concrete unless they are mixed with faith and action. You must make them yours by believing them and putting your faith to work.
This lesson will show you some of God’s conditions and promises concerning prayer and His provision for your needs.
What God Has Promised Concerning Prayer
Look up the following verses and identify the condition and promise in each:
Jeremiah 33:3 Condition / Promise
Matthew 21:22 Condition / Promise
I John 5:14-15 Condition / Promise
John 14:14 Condition / Promise
Which promise do you need most to apply to your own prayer life right now and why?
What God Will Provide Through Prayer
In the following verses, identify God’s promises concerning:
Philippians 4:19, Psalm 84:11 Material Needs.
Proverbs 3:5-6, Psalm 32:8 Guidance
Ephesians 1:3, Philippians 4:13 Spiritual Needs
List reasons you can trust Him to keep His promises:
Psalm 9:10, Psalm 115:11, Isaiah 26:4, Nahum 1:7, II Samuel 7:28
In what particular circumstance of your life and for what do you presently need to trust Him more?
These promises are real — believe them, claim them, live by them.
List at least three things you need to pray for, and a verse for each that promises God’s provision:
Planning Your Daily Devotional Time
Step 4: The Christian and Prayer
Down through the years, godly men who have done great things for God have testified to the necessity of having a devotional time.
John Wesley, who shook the world for God and founded the Methodist Church, is representative of such great spiritual leaders. He thought prayer, more than anything else, to be his business.
Just as a child needs food to grow physically, so we need food to grow spiritually. We can miss a meal and not feel any ill effects, but if we don’t eat for a week we begin to weaken physically. So it is in our spiritual lives.
The study of the Word of God and the practice of prayer are vitally important for spiritual growth. We may miss a day without feeding on the Word of God or praying and not feel any apparent ill effects in our lives, but if we continue this practice, we will lose the power to live the victorious Christian life.
The Christian life might be compared to a soldier in battle. He is out on the front lines but is connected with his commanding officer by radio. He calls and tells of the conditions and problems he is facing. Then his commanding officer, who from his vantage point can see the entire battle area, relays instructions. Similarly, the Christian shares his joys and sorrows, his victories and defeats, and his needs as God instructs and guides him through His word.
It is our Heavenly Father who directs us in the adventure of life. He knows the steps we should take. We must take time to seek Him for guidance.
Establish a Definite Time
A daily devotional time should be set aside for personal worship and meditation in which we seek fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Once begun, this fellowship can be continued throughout the day. (Psalm 119:97, I Thessalonians 5:17)
- In obedience to Christ’s command, what did the disciples do after His ascension? (Acts 1:13-14)
- Make your personal devotional time unhurried. Don’t think about your next responsibility. Concentrate on your fellowship with the Lord. A definite time everyday will do much to help. A brief period with concentration is better than a long devotional time with your mind on many things. How many minutes can you set aside for your time with God?
Although different individuals’ schedule will vary, many people prefer the morning hours, before the responsibilities of the day begin. David was a man after God’s own heart. What time did he set aside to communicate with God? (Psalm 5:3)
Name 2 characteristics of the devotional life of Jesus. (Mark 1:35)
When is your best devotional time? None of us can say that we do not have time for prayer and Bible study. We all can make time for things that we really want to do. Whether the period is long or short, set aside some time.
Choose a Definite Place
Avoid distraction by finding a quiet, private place of worship. If privacy is impossible, you will need to learn to concentrate. If you cannot have a devotional time in your own home or room, perhaps one of the following places will be suitable:
- A nearby chapel
- A corner of the school library
- Your office (before or after hours)
- Name 3 other places you might find appropriate for your private prayer and Bible study.
Goal and Content of the Devotional Time
We should have a reason for everything we do. “Aim at nothing and you will surely hit it.” Our purpose for prayer should be to establish personal fellowship with God and to fulfill our own spiritual needs.
A brief time of meeting with God in the early morning and walking in vital union with Him throughout the day, “practicing the presence of God” is more meaningful than spending an hour or more in legalistic ways and forgetting about Him for the rest of the day.
During our devotional time, we should be concerned with learning where we have failed and with rededicating ourselves to the task before us. We should use the time to regroup our forces after the battles of the previous day and plan for the next day’s attack.
What particular spiritual need do you feel today? What battles did you have yesterday?
The devotional time should include Bible study, prayer, personal worship, and quiet meditation. These aspects of the devotional time are so closely related that you can actually engage in all at the same time.
For example, begin by reading a Psalm of thanksgiving or praise. As you read, your heart will respond and you will continue to praise and worship God from a grateful heart.
Turn now to another portion of scripture, such as Romans 8. Interrupt your reading to thank God for each truth that applies to you as a Christian. You will be amazed at how much you have to praise and thank God for, once you get started.
After you have read and prayed for a while, remain in an attitude of quiet, listening for instructions from God. Write down any thoughts that come to mind and pray about these.
Additional activities may include memorizing scripture or reading from a devotional book or hymnal.
Study Matthew 6:9-13. Paraphrase this prayer in your own words, using expression meaningful to you.
Complete these statements:
I have set aside the following definite time in the day for daily devotional time:
I have decided on the following place:
My purpose for setting aside a definite time and place for my devotion is:
I will include the following activities during my devotional time:
Step 4: The Christian and Prayer
The following questions will help you review this Step. If necessary, reread the appropriate lessons (s).
Why is prayer important?
To be more effective in prayer, what conditions mentioned in Lesson 4 and 5 are you now meeting that you were not meeting before?
Fill in the words to complete the suggestion guide for prayer content:
Are you presently following the ACTS guide? (Remember, the guide is not mandatory, it is just helpful.) If you use another system, what is it?
How has your understanding of power and promises in prayer been broadened?
What specific time and place have you set aside for daily prayer and devotions? What adjustments do you need to make for it to be more effective?
Memorize and remember: Effective praying is simply asking God to work according to His will and leaving the results to Him.
Does God answer the prayers of the unsaved?
Links for more resources on prayer