Some of the greatest blessings that we have as children of God are associated with and obtained by prayer. However, not every child of God knows how to pray. Even the Lord’s disciples asked Him to teach them how to pray (Luke 11:1). How can I know that my prayers are working and that God is hearing my prayer? How can I have assurance in prayer?
1. Prayer Must Be In Harmony With the Will of God. “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him” (1 John 5:14-15). Notice the assurance that John has in prayer. However, this assurance is conditional. John says that if we ask according to His will, He hears us and we have the petitions that we ask for. God will not grant any request that is contrary to His will. God’s will is set forth in the Bible.
2. We Must Be Keeping God’s Commandments. “And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight” (1 John 3:22). Again, notice the assurance that John has in prayer, but it is based upon the fact that the one praying is keeping the commandments of God and doing the things that are pleasing in His sight. God has never rewarded rebellion.
All the verbs in this verse are in the present tense. As we continue to keep God’s commandments, and continue to do those things that please Him, we can continue to ask and expect to receive. This assurance is not based upon past accomplishments, nor upon future intentions, but upon present obedience.
3. Prayer Must Be Offered In 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; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (James 1:6-8). Our entire relationship with God is based upon faith. Why would prayer be any different? Prayer is an exercise of faith. The effectiveness of our prayers will be in proportion to the strength of our faith.
James says that those who doubt are “unstable.” They believe in God when things are good, but have doubts when things are bad. In times of doubt, prayer is little more than a shot in the dark. This kind of prayer will not be answered.
4. Prayer Must Be Fervent and Earnest. “…The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16). The adjectives “effective” and “fervent” come from the Greek word ENERGEO, from which we get our English word “energy.” There is great power in prayer, but we cannot just throw a prayer into the air and expect it to “avail much.” Prayer works for those who will “work” prayer.
5. Prayer Must Come From A Humble Heart. In Luke 18:9-14, Jesus gave the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. This parable showed that God accepts the prayer of a humble sinner over the prayer of one who is self-righteous. Indeed, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5). Humility is not a garb to be thrown on when we are ready to pray. Humility must be an established part of our character if we expect God to hear and answer our prayers.
Concluding Thoughts. Jesus taught His disciples to pray, and told them to expect to have their prayers answered (Mark 11:22-24). We can have this same assurance in our prayers, if we allow the Bible to teach us how to pray.
by Heath Rogers
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