All believers in God know that praying is the most direct way for us to call to and communicate with God. So, we pray to God every day. However, most of the time, although we pray to God, we can’t feel His presence. Do you know why God doesn’t answer our prayers? What kind of prayers does God answer? The following four practices of how to pray so that God will listen will tell you the answers.
God says, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).
“Prayer is not a case of just going through the motions, following procedure, or reciting the words of God. That is to say, praying is not parroting certain words and it is not imitating others. In prayer, one must reach the state where one’s heart can be given to God, laying open one’s heart so that it may be moved by God.”
We can see from these words that God doesn’t like man’s external actions and doesn’t accept our lip service. Rather, He requires us to pray and worship Him in spirit and in truth. All those who have genuinely prayed to God have had the following experience: Whether at gatherings, in our own spiritual devotions, or in the things we encounter, as long as we can quiet ourselves, pray and call to God with a sincere and concentrated heart, and open our hearts and speak sincere words to Him, then our spirits will be moved and have peace and joy. Only this kind of prayer will be answered by God.
Most of the time, however, we don’t pray and draw near to God with our hearts, but just cling to rules and go through the motions, saying a few random words. How could God commend such prayers that are not sincere? For example, as time goes on, when we do our morning watch and evening prayers, pray before meals and thank God’s grace after eating, we are clinging to rules, simply going through the motions and going through a process, and not praying to God sincerely. Sometimes, we have nothing to say when praying to God, but we think that as a believer, we should adhere to this ritual, and so mumble a half-hearted prayer. Such prayers are just a way to muddle through. Does God answer such prayers? Absolutely not. There is nothing God hates more than the prayers which cling to rules and are not sincere. Only by praying sincerely does God answer our prayers.
Therefore, we should focus on quieting ourselves before God and pray to Him with a sincere heart. Only in this way does God answer our prayers.
The Lord Jesus once told this parable: “Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank You, that I am not as other men are, extortionists, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes to heaven, but smote on his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalts himself shall be abased; and he that humbles himself shall be exalted” (Luke 18:10–14).
It’s easy to see from the Lord Jesus’ parable that the Lord approved of the publican’s prayer and detested the Pharisee’s prayer. The latter was saying nice-sounding words and enumerating his deeds for God to ask God for rewards. God doesn’t answer this sort of prayer. But the publican was entirely different. He knew that he was a lowly sinner, so in his prayer he laid himself bare with a humble heart, acknowledging his own corruption and sincerely pleading for God’s forgiveness, and in the end, he received God’s mercy and forgiveness.
Do we have a humble heart in prayer like this publican? Actually, when praying, we are particularly focused on doing this in front of others and often disguise and brag about ourselves. For example, when we hear another person praying for a long time, while we ourselves don’t have much to say, we fear that we will be looked down on if we pray less than others, so we say repetitive words to lengthen our prayers. Sometimes, we deliberately recite many verses and say some nice-sounding words in prayer to make others look up to us. When our hard work bears fruit, we feel that we are someone who is very devoted to the Lord and who really loves Him, so when praying, we ask for blessings or crowns, and ask God to finally bring us into the heavenly kingdom and reward us. The list goes on and on. How could God answer such prayers?
So, if we want to have God answer our prayers, we should follow the publican’s example: Whatever happens, we should pray to God with a humble heart, lay bare our true state without pretense and packaging, and not adorn ourselves before God; no matter what corruption we reveal, we should pray to God and ask for His salvation. Only by praying this way does God answer our prayers.
The Bible records the Lord Jesus’ three prayers in Gethsemane before His crucifixion, “And He went a little farther, and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me: nevertheless not as I will, but as You will. … He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O My Father, if this cup may not pass away from Me, except I drink it, Your will be done. … [He] prayed the third time, saying the same words” (Matthew 26:39–44).
We can see from these verses that when the Lord Jesus prayed, He had a seeking and obedient attitude and was seeking the will of God the Father, instead of forcing or asking the Father in heaven to take His suffering of being crucified away. After the Lord Jesus prayed three times, He knew the will of the heavenly Father—God became flesh at that time to complete the work of redeeming mankind through crucifixion, and then He obeyed completely.
The Lord Jesus was Christ, He was God Himself, and yet He prayed to God the Father and sought the will of God the Father from the standpoint of a created being. This shows that the Lord Jesus was particularly reasonable, had a seeking heart and tried to grasp God’s will in prayer. The Lord Jesus set an exemplar for us to follow by humbling Himself and praying from the perspective of a created being.
We should reflect: Are our prayers reasonable? Do we stand in the place of a created being and make prayers of seeking and obedience to God? Actually, we often speak without reason in prayer, asking God to do things in this way or that according to our own ideas, and even trying to force His hand. For instance, when we get sick, we don’t seek God’s will but instead ask God to hurry and cure our illness, and when we don’t get better, we misunderstand and blame God; when we give some things up and expend a little for God or perform some duties, we ask God to ensure that everything goes safely and smoothly for us and even that our families obtain blessings; when persecution and tribulation befall us, we pray to God and ask Him to protect us or to take away these environments; etc. All of these prayers are unreasonable. This isn’t praying with a seeking and obedient heart but blindly demanding things from God, asking God to satisfy our desires and strong-arming God into doing as we desire. God doesn’t answer this kind of unreasonable prayer at all.
Just as God’s words say, “You seldom pray genuinely, and there are some who do not even know how. Actually, to pray is mainly to say what is in your heart, as if you were speaking as you normally do. However, there are people who forget their place as soon as they begin to pray; they insist that God grant them something, heedless of whether it accords with His will, and, as a result, their prayers wither in the praying. When you pray, whatever it is you are asking for in your heart, whatever it is you long for; or, perhaps, there is an issue you wish to address, but into which you have no insight, and you are asking that God give you wisdom or strength, or that He enlighten you—whatever your request, you must be sensible in phrasing it. If you are not, and kneel down and say, ‘God, give me strength; let me see my nature; I beg You to work; I beg You for this and that; I beg You to make me such-and-such….’ That ‘beg’ of yours has a coercive quality; it is an attempt to put pressure on God, to compel Him to do what you want—whose terms you have unilaterally decided in advance, no less. As the Holy Spirit sees it, what effect could such a prayer have, when you have already set the terms and decided what you want to do? One should pray with a seeking, submissive heart. When something has befallen you, for instance, and you are not sure how to handle it, you might say, ‘God! I do not know what to do about this. I wish to satisfy You in this matter, and to seek Your will. May Your will be done. I wish only to do as You will, not as I will. You know that all human will is contrary to Yours, and resists You, and does not accord with the truth. I ask that You enlighten me, give me guidance in this matter, and let me not offend You….’ That is the appropriate tone for a prayer.”
Therefore, if we want to have God answer our prayers, then when praying, we must have reason, stand in the place of a created being, have a seeking and obedient heart, and not make our own choices, demands or plans. Only this kind of prayer will be answered by God. For example, when natural or man-made disasters come their way or something disagreeable to us occurs, then while praying, we shouldn’t ask God or force Him to protect us or to take away these environments, but should seek God’s will from the standpoint of a created being; if God uses these environments to temper and perfect our faith or let us bear witness, then we should accept and submit to these environments. By praying in such a reasonable way, God will approve us and He will enlighten and guide us with regard to the problems that beset us, thus enabling us to have a path to practice.
The Lord Jesus said, “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things. But seek you first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:31–33). “After this manner therefore pray you: Our Father which are in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For Yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen” (Matthew 6:9–13).
The Lord Jesus’ words show us that God’s intention is for His will to be carried out on earth. Ever since mankind was corrupted by Satan, God has been working to save humanity. God hopes to gain a group of people who obey and worship Him and are of one mind with Him, and that the kingdom of Christ will be realized on earth. This is why, in our prayers, we can’t just make appeals for our needs. More so, we must be considerate of God’s will, and pray for us to become those who obey God and do His will, for God to save and gain more people, and for the appearance of Christ’s kingdom on earth. Such prayers are in accordance with God’s will.
For example, the Bible records that King David wholeheartedly wanted to build a temple for Jehovah God so that people could worship God within it. He often prayed to God for this, and then he put it into practice. Those entreaties gained God’s approval and in the end David became someone after God’s heart. When praying, Solomon didn’t ask for riches or a long life, but instead asked that God bestow wisdom upon him so that he could better rule God’s people and guide them to worship God. God approved of his prayers, and not only bestowed wisdom upon him, but also the riches and long life he hadn’t even asked for. Job often prayed to fear God and shun evil, so when trials befell him, he was able to say, “Jehovah gave, and Jehovah has taken away; blessed be the name of Jehovah” (Job 1:21), and “Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10). By saying these words, he shamed Satan and bore resounding testimony for God, thereby becoming an exemplar for future generations. It’s clear that praying to do God’s will, and to satisfy God and practice the truth is a prayer that is entirely in accordance with God’s will and will surely be answered by God.
Compare this to our everyday prayers, we find that most of the time, our prayers are asking God to satisfy our fleshly desires and don’t conform with God’s will. For example, we pray for our children to get into a good university, we pray to make a fortune, we pray to have a happy family, etc. All of these prayers are for our own interests, using God to satisfy our extravagant desires, and blindly asking God for grace and blessings. We never understand God’s heart and very rarely pray out of consideration for God’s intention or to do His will. How could such prayers gain God’s approval?
Therefore, we should be considerate of God’s will in our prayers, and not pray only for our own needs but pray to do God’s will. For instance, when we encounter various difficulties while spreading the gospel and we feel weak and negative, we should pray to God and ask Him to give us faith and strength so that we can continue spreading God’s gospel. When working and preaching, we should pray to God with a burden, asking Him to enlighten and guide us to be able to fellowship about His will, so that we can lead our brothers and sisters to practice and experience God’s words. Only such prayers can gain God’s approval. If we often pray in this way, we will obtain God’s guidance and enlightenment.
These are the four principles of practice for having God answer our prayers. As long as we grasp these principles, we’ll have a path of practice when praying, and then God will answer our prayers.
Editor’s Note: We trust that, by reading this article, you will now know what kind of prayers God answers, as well as the path to having God answer our prayers. If this article has been helpful to you, please share it with others so that they too may find the path to having God answer prayers. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us using the online chat buttons at the bottom. We are online 24 hours a day ready to answer your questions.