What is the secret to answered prayers? Will God answer my prayers?
The Bible has a very simple guide on how we should pray:
Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not… ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou taken up and cast into the sea, it shall be done. – Matthew 21:21
And when we look back at all the prayers that Jesus had answered, honesty and simplicity in those prayers were very much evident.
And behold, there came a leper and worshipped him saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And he stretched forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou made clean. And straightway his leprosy was cleansed. -Matthew 8:2-3
And as Jesus passed by from thence, two blind men followed him, crying out, saying Have mercy on us, thou son of David. And when he was come into the house, the blind men came to him, Believe ye that I am able to do this? They say unto him, Yea, Lord. Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it done unto you. And their eyes were opened. – Matthew 9:27-30
Such simple and straightforward prayers, and yet these prayers were often the prayers that Jesus praised for their faith.
Why then do some of our prayers seem to remain unanswered until now? What have we failed to understand? What is the kind of prayer God always hears and answers?
I’ve listed THREE easy guidelines that have helped me tremendously in my own prayers. They’re so simple and easy to remember, and they have guided me through much of my prayer life.
Three things we need in our prayers:
1. To KNOW what we want
What is it that we truly want? Are the concerns that escape our lips in prayer truly the things we desire? We are to remember that prayer isn’t about mere words no matter how beautiful or how well composed they seem to be. Prayer is that which comes from our hearts, the things we lift up towards heaven when we close our eyes and kneel before the One who hears the voice within us. For all we know, the things we say are just the opposite of the things we really want. For all we know, we have not yet come to discover the things we truly desire.
Do we still remember the blind man whom Jesus healed?
And Jesus stood, and commanded him to be brought unto him: and when he was come near, he asked him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight. And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed him, glorifying God: and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise unto God.
Why did Jesus ask him what he desires? Wasn’t it already obvious that he needed to see? What I can say is this: the prayer, the real desire of the blind man should come from him himself. Jesus wanted him to realize the desire that lies in his own heart, to claim it, to proclaim it, and to believe that it can be done. Because this is the way to authentic prayer. God does not suddenly appear before us and insist on the things we obviously need. What would you say if He suddenly comes to you and says, “Well John, I think you need a new job so you can buy a new shirt because you really look so shabby already, and I can’t bear the sight of you!” Well, won’t it be encroaching on our God-given will, on the honor He has bestowed upon us as His children? On the right to receive whatever gift we want, not the gifts thrusted upon us by force?
We need to seek inside our hearts those desires that have slept there for so long. Unless we do, we do not know what to pray for in the first place, and we end up sending a bunch of mixed and weak signals that do not really know the things it asks for. Have you ever heard someone talking on the phone over a choppy line? Well, was it easy to understand what he was saying? If the person was asking you for something, would you have understood what it was? And having never understood what it was in the first place, would you have given what the person was asking for?
We must uncover the prayers our souls are crying for. And in order to do so, we must learn how to remove all the impurities that conceal our true desires. Know what you want. Be brave enough to face yourself in the mirror and see what it is you’re lacking. Do not content yourself with the outer layer of your problems. Seek the core of your difficulties. It is only then that you will know you are blind. It is only then that you will know you needed to see.
2. To BELIEVE that we can get what we want and that God can answer our prayers.
What is the point of praying if we do not believe our prayers will be answered? What is the point of praying if we do not believe someone hears them and that the one who does can answer them? You might have noticed how people often simply murmur their wishes, hoping some genie might pass by and grant them their wishes if he so desires. Not a very empowering concept, isn’t it?
See if you can relate to the following:
a. We think we do not deserve what we pray for
Having a realistic assessment of ourselves is good. But insisting on our unworthiness as a cause to believe that our prayers should not be granted is another. Remember that God does not force us to receive anything, however wonderful or generous His blessings are. If we do not wish to accept his answers, we are the ones closing our doors and shutting out every good thing God sends out to us.
b. We think God is not good or generous enough to grant us our desires
We may have an idea of a God who never even smiles, a God who gives out all these commandments for us to follow and who watches our every move so He can punish us if we violate any of those laws He has given us. If this is how you see God, it is no wonder that you do not believe your prayers will be answered. In fact, if this is how you see Him, you may never even have the guts to pray to Him at all!
Believe that God is good. Believe that God loves you so much He gave up His glory to be just like you in order to save you. Believe that if He can grant you His One and Only Son, He will not withhold anything from you.
3. To fervently and consistently DESIRE the thing we want.
Sometimes we know what we want, and we believe that God can grant them. But when some sort of delay comes, we start doubting our prayers, and subsequently, God’s generosity to grant what we ask for. A persistent prayer proves how far our faith can go. It proves how much we believe in the things we pray for.
When we fail to pray fervently, the following happens and jeopardizes our prayers:
a. We settle for the initial results we get instead of pursuing what it is we really want
Sometimes, we recognize some things as answers to our prayers. It may be a job, which pays enough, but is not as rewarding as we envisioned it to be; or a boyfriend who seems okey, but one with whom we do not feel truly happy with. Though these answers seem good enough, they do not fully satisfy our desires. And we settle for these things instead of pursuing the true essence of our prayers.
These things may have been answers indeed, but only answers to the broken prayers we prayed when we have not yet uncovered our true desires. They have been sent according to our faith, but that doesn’t mean they are the true answers to our deepest desires. They may only be there to help us dig deeper, to ask ourselves what it is we truly want. If they can satisfy us now, then well and good. But if not, if we can’t pray a prayer of thanksgiving with a heart overflowing in joy and gratitude, then let go of these things. These are not yet the answers you are searching for.
b. We change our minds even before we get the desired results
Sometimes it happens that even before the answer to our prayer arrives, we retract our prayers and ask for something else instead. And after doing so, we change our minds again and ask for another thing, and then another thing, and then another. How do you expect then to get the answers you want? If you keep on changing your mind, you only prove you do not know what it is you really want, and that’s why you cannot persist in your prayers. You just keep on jumping from one prayer to another hoping that you may finally hit the jackpot by randomly guessing on what you really desire to have.
Consider the blind man whom Jesus healed:
And it came to pass, as he drew nigh unto Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the way side begging: and hearing a multitude going by, he inquired what this meant. And they told him that Jesus of Nazareth passeth by. And he cried, saying, Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me. And they that went before rebuked him, that he should hold his peace: but he cried out the more a great deal, Thou son of David, have mercy on me. And Jesus stood, and commanded him to be brought unto him: and when he was come near, he asked him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight. And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed him, glorifying God: and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise unto God. – Luke 18:35-43
Though the people rebuked him, though they urged him to keep quiet, the man continued to cry out to Jesus. He knew his need and he believed that Jesus can grant him the answer to his prayer.
Unlike the blind man, some people nowadays listen more to the people rebuking them than to the inner desires in their hearts. Often, we believe these people, and we allow them to make us believe our prayers can’t be or don’t deserve to be answered.
Don’t listen to these people. Listen to your heart, because somewhere in there, God had planted a sacred seed of desire that will bring you to your happiness, to the destiny He has planned for you all along, if only you will believe.
So go ahead and pray. Pray your deepest, innermost desires. For such is the secret to answered prayers. Believe that God listens and God longs for you to have your prayers answered. Pray fervently, do not give up. For as you might have observed, Jesus never turned down anyone who’s ever asked Him for anything; NOT ONE.