How to Get Your Prayers Answered  

I’ve been a pastor for 30+ years, so over time, I have heard quite a few definitions of prayer. Out of all of them, there are two that have really hit home with me.

The first one comes from a Bible dictionary that I like. It says that prayer is man’s utter dependence on God. I like that definition because until we learn to rely on God deeply, prayer will always be a duty instead of a delight. Another definition that I like says that prayer is God’s presence that our hearts long for. We start longing for God’s presence when we start to see the results of it in our lives.

Do your thoughts regarding prayer fall under one of these categories? I hope so, but if not, maybe it’s time to make a change? Let’s talk about how. We’ll go to Jesus’ instructions on prayer, because if there’s anyone who knows what He’s talking about, it’s Him! Jesus gives us the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:6-13. He starts with, “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you…”

Answered prayers are a great reflection of the fact that you serve a real God. You don’t have to make a show out of it. You don’t have to call attention to it. When you pray the way Jesus instructs us to, your prayers will be answered. So let’s talk about how to do that. Jesus says that the first step is honor. That’s why He starts the prayer with “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name…” St. Augustine was once asked the keys to prayer, and his outline followed very closely the outline of the Lord’s Prayer. I love the way he describes that first step. He says that to get your prayers answered, you first have to reorder the loves of your heart.

The second step is to pray with trust. That’s why Jesus prayed to His Father, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” He truly trusted that God’s way was best. The third step is faith. When we pray in faith, God changes our perceptions of what’s possible. That changes the priorities that we live with, and it starts to change the principles that we live by. The final step is praying with patience. The rest of the prayer says, “Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”

This entire passage represents one truth: as hard as we try, we will still mess up. We must have grace on ourselves and on others as God does. Do you want to see your prayers answered? Begin praying with honor, trust, faith and patience. The rewards are well worth it!