HOW TO PRAY TO GET ANSWERS? – Bible Instruction

In the previous pages we saw some of the most wonderful truths which God has given to us in His Word about prayer.  If it is true that God does not do any thing spiritual in this world without our prayers, and that we are chosen and appointed to pray in such a way as to get answers, the greatest hindrance to God’s work in the world to day is the prayer less saints of God.

As we look through the history of the church we see this to be very true.  When ever there was a praying generation, work of God was found to be progressing.  When ever prayer was lacking, work of God suffered in equal proportion.  There is no exception to this rule.  Behind every major revival in the church, there was a praying church.  Even to day if any one wants to see a mighty revival sweeping through the nations of the world, it can be brought about by a praying church.  We must be willing to pray through.  This is true because we have a God who answers prayers.

Occasionally we come across believers who have given up praying.  They found prayer to be not very practical as several of their prayers went unanswered.

In this chapter we will consider how to pray to get answers.  It may be taken note that some times God says ‘No’ to some prayers and at other times answer is ‘Wait’.  But usually answer is above all we can ask or think.  The point is that God always answers prayer.  What answer is received is comparatively of low significance.

One other thing to take note of is that men of prayer invariably know when God answered their prayers.  As they pray they come to know when to stop praying and start thanking God for the answer.  For some time they see answer in faith and realize answers at a later time.   Many praying ones have this experience.

It is unbelievable but it is true that God Almighty would listen to our prayers and answers them.  “I called and he answered me.  I could not believe that he was listening to my voice” (Job 9:16).  Utterly unbelievable.  Yet absolutely true.  God answers prayers!

But if we want answers to prayers we need to know the conditions laid down in God’s Word and fulfill those conditions.  Now we will look at those conditions under which God answers our prayers.

a)  Pray in Christ’s name

Jesus our Lord asked His disciples to ‘ask in my name’ as they prayed.

The Bible reveals a Triune God.  God is revealed as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  The second person of the Trinity is the Son who became man to be the mediator between God and man (I Tim2:6).  It is through Him that we are accepted as God’s children.  It is only through Him we have access to the Father (Eph.2:l8).  Through His death a new and a living way is open for us to the Holy Place (Heb.l0:l9).  So to day we can approach the throne of grace with confidence (Heb.4:l6). What a glorious privilege we have in Christ!

There are many who know God as only God.  But through Christ we can know Him as Father (Jn.14:6).  As we approach God through Christ this new status is given to us.  Now we are His children (I Jn.3:2).  Now we can approach God as a child approaches its dad!  The saints in the Old Testament could not even dream of such a thing.  But the New Testament saints have this glorious privilege.  May we learn to use it properly.

In His parting message in John chs.14, 15 & l6 the Lord Jesus told His disciples to ‘ask in my name’(14:13; 15:16 etc.).  He was giving them authority to use His name while praying. 

We have no right in ourselves to approach God.  Except through His name we cannot receive any thing from God.  But now He has given us the right to use His name as we approach God.  As we do this, God looks at us as He looks at His only Son.  What a glory!  Because we bear the name of the Son of God, the Father sees us as He sees His only begotten  Son.

To day the New Testament believers every where use the phrase ‘in Christ’s name we pray’ or an equivalent phrase to end their prayers.  It must be so.  We need to take the name of Christ on our lips as we pray. But tragically many do not see the significance of this phrase.  ‘in my name’ has truly deeper significance.  Let us look at the NT to see how that phrase is used elsewhere.  For our purpose we only need to look at just two instances where the phrase is found to ascertain its meaning.

In Jn.14:26 we read of the spirit of God whom the Father will send ‘in my name’.  Here in this verse, without any question or doubt ‘in my name’ means ‘instead of me’.  In other words the Lord was telling His disciples that when He went to the Father, the spirit of God will be sent instead of Him.

In Col.3:17 we are told “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do every thing ‘in the name of the Lord Jesus’…”  In this verse again, the phrase ‘in the name of the Lord Jesus’ means instead of Him, or as He would do.   Today the Lord Jesus is not physically present in this world.  He has placed us here in His stead.  We are asked to do everything as He would have done, instead of Him.

This indeed is a plain teaching of the Scripture.  In I Jn.4:17 we read, “ …because as He is, so are we in this world”.  We are placed in this world in the place of the Son of God,  instead of Him.  So we are to do every thing as He would have done, in His place or in His Name.  In other words we represent Him here on earth.

So we conclude that the phrase ‘in my name’ means in my stead or in my place.  So to ask ‘in my name’ means to ask as He did, ask in His stead. In other words we represent Him as we pray.

Today the Lord Jesus is at the right hand of God interceding for us (Rom.8:34).  He is not physically present here on earth.  And He has asked His disciples to continue the ministry which He had started while here on earth.  So today we are continuing His work here on earth.  Is it not common for some one trusted to do the work of some one else in his name?  So to ‘ask in my name’ means to ask instead of Him, as He did, yea, in His way, representing Him.

The Lord Jesus was a mighty man of prayer while here on earth.  Today He is asking us to continue the work which He started while He was here on earth.  We are to do it in His name.  As He did.  In His way.  What a privilege does a child of God have!  And what a responsibility! 

Now let us quickly look at His prayer life while on earth.

Mk.1:35  early in the morning while it was dark He was found praying
Mk.6:46,47  in the evening He was found praying
Lk. 6:12  all night He was praying
Lk.ll:l  when ever there was a spare moment He was found praying
Lk.9:29 at mt. transfiguration as He was praying His face shone

To the disciples the prayer life of their Master was really amazing.  So they asked Him, “Lord, teach us to pray”(Lk.ll:l).

In His prayer in Jn. 17 the Lord Jesus was praying for His disciples and in v. 9 He says, “I pray for them, I do not pray for the world…”  Today praying for the world has been completely delegated to us (I Tim.2:1-7) as He prays for us in heaven.  We are asked to intercede for the world as He intercedes for us in heaven.

We know that the Lord Jesus is our example in every thing (I Pt.2:21).  Even in our prayer life He is our model.  If this is what is required of us, how tragic is our prayer life to-day?

I am positive.  All our prayers will always be answered if we knew and prayed as He prayed.  How can heaven not respond to a child of God who is representing the Son of God and praying in His name?

Let us arise.  Let us understand what our Lord meant.  Let us order our lives in the light of the Scripture.  Let us have prayer as priority number one as Jesus our Lord had.  Let us pray in His name, as He prayed with tears (Heb.5:7) and with agony (Lk.22:44).  Surely heaven will hear and answer our prayers without doubt.  May He give us grace.  May His name be glorified through our lives.  Amen.

b)  Pray for the glory of God.

“What ever you ask in my name, I will do that the Father may be glorified in the Son” {Jn.14:13}.  As we study the life of the Lord Jesus on earth,  we come to know that what ever He did, He did it for the glory of God(Jn.17:4).He came to reveal the Father to the world (Jn.1:18).  The invisible God of the Universe was made manifest by the coming of the Son of God in to the world.  He thus proved to the world that God is a living reality. Doing the will of the Father was food to Him (Jn.4:34).  He did not have a life separate from the Father.  He always lived and prayed for God’s glory.

God wants to reveal Himself to the world today.  He does it by answering the prayers of His saints (2 Ch.16:9).  Today as we pray we must make sure that the purpose of our prayer is His glory.  Our motive should be right.  Glory of the Lord alone must be our ultimate motive.  God knows and watches our inner most beings.  Nothing is hid before Him.  When we make sure that ultimate glory of God alone is out motive, we can be sure of an answer to our prayer.

c)  Pray in the will of God

1Jn.5:14 promises that prayers done in the will of God cannot go un answered.  Praying for the glory of God, praying in the will of God, praying in faith etc. are essential parts of the prayers of our Lord.  So if we want answers we must make sure that we too pray in God’ will.

Many believers have a problem here.  Very often they do not know how to discern the will of God.  If we are able to solve this problem, we can have the benefit of answered prayers.

The Bible is our guide when it comes to discerning the will of God.  The Bible tells us that God has a plan for this universe and also for individual lives. So the first thing to do is to familiarize ourselves with the Word of God.  We must make sure that we yield ourselves to the truths revealed to us. 

The Bible says that God has certain universal plan for all individuals on earth.  For example, He wants all men to be saved (I Tim.2:4).  This is God’s will for every one on earth.  So the first step toward discerning God’s will is to accept that we are all sinners and accept Christ as personal savior by repentance and faith.  Any one who is not born into the family of God by accepting Christ, is living out side the will of God.  So that is the first step.

Then it is perfect will that all born again children to live a holy life (1Thes. 4:3).  So, any one, though born again, living in unholy character is living out side the will of God.  Just as it is impossible for man to be born into God’s family by one’s own efforts, so no one can hope to live a holy life by the efforts of the flesh.  A person must utterly depend on the grace of God for imparting holiness into life by continual dependence and prayers to God(Rom.7:24,25).

Like wise, all those who live in holiness must always rejoice irrespective of circumstances.  They should always live a life of praise and pray without ceasing (I Thes.5:16,17,18).  This is God’ will for every believer.  If a believer is living a murmuring life, such a person is living out side the will of God.  I Pt.3:17 says that we have to do good and suffer if necessary for the same.  This too is God’s will for our lives.

Only those who live in the revealed will of God can discern God’s will for individual circumstances.  As one study the Scripture day by day with an attitude of dependence and prayer, the spirit of God will tell us what to do in our daily practical situations in life. The Bible has very clear instructions about various walks of a believer’s life.  God does nothing against His Word.  Only as one walks in the light received, is one guided further.

Some times our specific situation may not be addressed in the Scripture.  But there are very clear principles laid out in the Scripture and one must be able to apply scriptural principles as one tries to discern the will of God.

God has promised to guide us through His word.  “As you turn to the left or to the right, there is a voice behind saying, this is the way and walk ye therein” (Is.31:21). “I will instruct you and teach you the way you should take” (Ps.32:8).

As one submits one’s ways completely to God, God will guide and reveal His will to such a person.  Every one has to wait in the presence of the Lord to hear the voice of the Lord (Jer.23:l8).  It is essential to ask God for leading as one waits. Once we discern the will of God, we need to ask God to lead us day by day until it is achieved.  In 2 Sam.7:27  David prays a bold prayer as he was told what would happen to him.  So, as we pray for such things as revealed to us, our prayers must become bold.  Without prayers God’s perfect will cannot be achieved in our lives.

If, on occasion, a believer is in darkness as to what is to be done, prayers must be made continually for the revelation of the will of God.  All hindrances must be removed by  letting the Spirit of God search our heats.  If darkness persists still, the believer has to take a step trusting God and God will look after the rest (Is. 50:l0).

Praying in the will of God means praying about what pleases God.  If you want definite answers to prayers, learn to pray in the will of God.  Answers are sure to come.  May the Lord give us grace.  May His name be glorified.  Amen.

d)  Pray in faith

We found that prayers done in the will of God cannot go unanswered.  To know the will of God one has to be familiar with God through His Word.  Bold prayers are offered by people who know the will of God.

Faith is another important factor if prayers are to be answered.  “And what ever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith” (Mt.21:22).

 Faith without prayer is dead and prayer without faith is powerless.

 Faith and trust are essential elements in the very existence of human race.  We trust our milk man.  We trust our railway timetable.  We trust our taxi drivers.  If we do not trust our family members, we may never be able to take our food thinking there is poison in it.  People trust that their company would pay them at the end of the month.  We trust our governments to protect us.  Without mutual faith and trust human race cannot survive.

We all trust people or systems which are visible.  Who could ever say when a government would fall or an engine would fail?  All such happen without any warning at all.  But people who trust in the God of the Bible are trusting in someone who would never fail.  Though invisible, God is the most reliable person and His system is the most unfailing one.  Anyone could trust Him based on the principles laid down in His Word and know that He is a prayer answering God.

Faith is an important factor if prayers are to be answered.  “And whatever you ask

in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith” (Mt.21:22). While the Old Testament uses the word trust, the New Testament uses the word faith to convey the same meaning.

According to the Bible faith is assurance.  It is evidence (Heb.11:1).  It is not a leap in to the dark as some would think.  Though the God of the Bible is invisible to human eyes, He has made Himself tangible by His Word.  Faith in God means believing the unchanging words of the Bible.  Faith is ordering our lives according to the Bible.  Faith is trusting God for what He has said in the written Word.

Faith is the opposite of sight (2 Cor.5:7). Thus Abraham would set out for a land which God would show him (Gen.12:1).   Faith is the opposite of doubt (Mt.21:21).  That is why Moses would stretch his rod over the Sea (Ex.14:21).  Fear and faith are at opposite poles (Lk.8:50).  That is why Peter was able to sleep in the prison even though he knew he would be beheaded the following day (Acts 12:6).  A Bible believer does not worry about his fate, as he is above it. The Bible says that all things are possible to them that believe (Mt.l7:21).  That is why Daniel was able to pray three times even when he knew he would be cast into the den of lions (Dan.6:10).

There are many false beliefs around us.  They are based on the un-uttered words of non-existing gods!  Genuine faith, on the other hand, is believing what God has said in His written Word.

He, who does not believe what God has given us in writing, is making God a liar (I Jn.5:10).  So without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb.11:6).  It is impossible for anyone to see the glory of God without trusting what God has said in His Word (Jn .11:40).

“All things are possible to him that believes” (Mt.17:21).  This does not mean that the believers would become like magicians.  It means that whatever is said in the Bible could come true in their lives as well.

The Bible teaches us that faith is a gift from God (Eph.2:8).  Without the grace of God no one could believe in God (Jn.6:44).  Even faith is given in answer to prayer (Mt.9:24).

Faith comes by hearing and hearing the Word of God (Rom.10:17).  So in order to have faith one has to take in the Word of God with a prayerful attitude.  For more faith, more in-take of the Word is necessary. 

George Mueller, who was a man of great faith, is said to have studied the Scriptures about one hundred times on his knees!  Is there any need for us to be surprised at his faith?  On the other hand, the reason for our lack of faith is not found elsewhere either!

Some people confuse their wishful thinking with faith.  For example a school boy who wrote his exam would pray ‘believing’ that he would pass.  But when the result would come it was against his wishes.  Such people, when their wishes would not come true, would dismiss faith in God from their lives. On the other hand,  prayers based on the written Word of God can never go unanswered.  So must pray after listening to God through His Word.

Abraham is our model for faith.  He is said to have hoped against hope (Rom.4:18).  Humanly speaking there was no ground for him to put his foot on.  Everything was against him.  There was no place for wishful thinking.  But God had told and that was what he trusted in.  It is not on our wishful thinking that we should put our faith on.  It is on what God has said. 

What did the Lord tell me about this particular situation?  That is what should become the basis of our faith.  Humanly speaking there may not be any chance for it to happen.  “God has told me and therefore I believe this would happen”.  These are the words of faith.

Brethren, let us bring all our problems to God in prayer.  Let us sit at His feet and listen to what God has to say about each situation.  On hearing what God has said, tell God “Lord, you have told me thus and I believe it.  There is no chance for it to happen.  But I know it will happen because you have told me so.”  These are the words of faith.  Continue in the same attitude and pray until answer comes. See Elijah praying seven times (1Kgs.18:43) and Paul praying three times (2Cor.12:8).

Once you know something is the will of God, pray till answer comes (1Jn.5:14).

Do we want answer to prayer?  Let us learn to pray in faith.  Answers are bound to come.  Faith becomes living faith or saving faith only by prayer. While the Bible asks us to believe on the Lord Jesus to be saved, the Bible clearly tells us that only those who would call upon Him would ever be saved (Rom.10:13).  Faith which does not express itself in prayer is dead faith (James 2:20).  That is why we are commanded to devote ourselves to prayer (Rom.12:12; Col.4:2). Now, you tell me how much time you spend in prayer every day. I will tell you how much faith you have!

 Unless we strive in prayer, God’s perfect will can not be accomplished in and through our lives (Rom.15;30-32).  This is because of Satanic hindrance (1Thes.2:18). It is our duty to strive in prayer to remove the hindrance of Satan. For a demonstration of this truth see Daniel chapter 10. The ultimate purpose of God for His church here on earth is that we must be filled with all the might of God so that we might be able to stand against the wiles of the devil (Eph.6:10,11). 

Let us be men and women of great faith. Let us obey the plain command of the Scripture to devote ourselves to prayer.  Let us spend several hours in secret prayer thus making our faith living faith and showing the world that we have a prayer answering God.  May He give us grace.  To His name be all glory. Amen.

e)  Pray after removing hindrances 

Many people pray but they do not get answers because they did not care to remove hindrances to prayer from their lives.  In the Scripture we are told what these hindrances are.  Any one who is serious about answers to prayer must take time to see that these hindrances are removed before praying.

Every now and then we need to let the Spirit of God search our hearts to see if any wicked way in us (Ps.l39:23,24)  confess and reject them.

i. Sin in life. Isa. 59:2  “…your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God…” 

As a person comes to Christ first for pardon and for peace in true repentance and faith accepting that he or she is a sinner, he or she becomes a child of God.   God forgives repenting ones on the basis of the work of Christ in Calvary.  But after one becomes a child of God, it is essential the individual sins are identified, confessed and rejected, thus availing the cleansing in Christ (I Jn.1:9).

In the lives of every believer there are besetting sins (Heb.12:1) and presumptuous sins (Ps.19:13).    These need to be identified regularly and dealt with if one is serious about getting answers to prayers.  This must be done regularly as a gardener removes weeds from garden.  If one is a little careless these little sins get accumulated and will become a big hindrance to prayer. There are believers who live like the rest of men (I Cor.3:3).  Such cannot expect to be answered when they pray.  Sometimes even small attitudes can become hindrance to prayer.

ii. Sometimes it is selfishness which is hindering our prayer.  “…you ask and you receive not , because you ask amiss to spend it in your fleshly desires” (js.4:3).
iii. Idols in life (Eze.14:3) Idols are things which take the place of God in one’s life.  Any one who does not give the all important place to God in life need not expect an answer to prayer.
iv. Wrong attitude to the Scripture. “He who turns away his ear to listening to the law, even his prayer is an abomination” (Pro.28:9).
v. Attitude to the poor.  “He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be answered” (Pro.21:13).  If we need grace from God, we need to be gracious.
vi. An unforgiving spirit.  “When ever you stand praying, forgive…so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your transgression” (Mk.ll:25).  If we need forgiveness, we need to forgive.
vii. Family problems.  “You husbands likewise, live with your wives in an understanding way…so that your prayers may not be hindered” (I Pet.3:7).

These and other things which the spirit of God brings to our notice must be made right before we can expect an answer from God.

Some are found wasting their time praying because they have not bothered to remove all known hindrances from their lives.  If we learn to pray after removing hindrances from our lives, answers are bound to come.  May the Lord help us and may His name be glorified.  Amen.

f)  Pray till answer comes

Many who pray do not have this experience of praying till answer is received.  Some start praying for a particular thing.  They continue for some time but they give up in the middle and forget all about their prayer.  This is a grave mistake.  This in fact is the trick of the devil to let us give up our prayer request in the middle.

Once we know some thing is the will of God we must continue to pray till answer is received.  Some times it may take months or even years for answer to come.  Time span depends upon our fervency.  “Effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much (Js. 5:16).

We have one example in the life of David when he prayed till answer came.  We read about in 2 Samuel 12.  David was praying for his sick child.  He went into the room lay there and fasted for seven days.  But in v.20 he got up had his wash and changed his clothes to go to the temple of the Lord.  Here he prayed till answer came.  That time he did not get the expected answer.  But he prayed till answer came.

In the 10th chapter of Daniel we see Daniel praying for 21 days with partial fasting.  Nothing else was important for him during those days.  Daniel was taking to God one and only thing again and again to be answered.  This is called praying through.

Look at Elijah on top of mt.Carmel.  With his head between his knees the man of God was found praying until answer came (I Kg. 18:42-44).

A child of God who is in the school of prayer with God will be brought to such experiences.  Usually such men are loners.  Any one who has achieved great things for God have many such experiences.  Moses, Samuel and Daniel are examples of such men who moved the hand of God for their generations.  They are the ones who became agents through whom God’s will was achieved.  In the history of the church we have many such men and women who moved the hands of God for their generation.  May the Lord raise such prayer warriors in our country during this generation.  May His name be glorified in our midst.  Amen.