This is an excellent question! Before we look at what you CAN do, let’s consider what you SHOULD NOT do.

  1. Don’t ask for the WRONG REASON. James 4:3 says, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures” (NKJV). The Lord is not obligated to grant you your requests if your main desire is to please yourself.
  2. Don’t ask with SIN IN YOUR HEART. Psalm 66:18 declares, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” The Lord is Holy and thus He won’t even give ear to your prayer if you are living in sin.
  3. Don’t ask ONCE. In Luke 18:1 we read, “Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart.” We need to persist in prayer until the Lord has answered it.

Now let’s look at what we should do in order to have our prayers answered.

  1. Pray IN FAITH. James 1:5-6 states, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 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.” God will honor the prayer of faith, but unbelief will hinder our prayers. We learn in Romans 14:23 that “whatever is not from faith is sin.”
  2. Pray ACCORDING TO GOD’S WILL. This is brought out clearly in 1st John 5:14-15: “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything ACCORDING TO HIS WILL, HE HEARS US. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.” What a blessed contrast to what we saw earlier, for if we have God’s will in our hearts (instead of sin or unbelief), He not only hears us, but He will grant us our request.
  3. Pray FOR GOD TO BE GLORIFIED. Jesus said in John 14:13, “Whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that THE FATHER MAY BE GLORIFIED in the Son.” To ask in Christ’s name is to ask in accordance with His Mind and will, and thus it is asking for those things which will bring glory to the Father through the Son. This should be our CHIEF DESIRE in every prayer.

It should be mentioned that there may be times when we don’t know God’s will when we pray and yet God will, in time, make it clear to us that He has something else in mind for us. The apostle Paul is a good example of this, for he prayed earnestly in 2nd Corinthians 12:8 that a physical affliction he had be removed. The Lord’s answer in verse 9 is most instructive, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Paul was not being selfish in asking for this, for he felt he could serve the Lord better without the affliction, but the Lord was telling Paul, “I will give you the grace to endure it AND the strength to serve Me in spite of it.” We learn from this that the Lord may not answer our prayers according to our thoughts, but according to His perfect wisdom and will. And it will always be FOR OUR GOOD and FOR HIS GLORY. (240.1) (DO)