What Makes God Hear Me In Prayer?
Does God hear everyone’s prayer? Surely, as an all-knowing God He hears everyone. But, apparently there are some prayers that He gives lesser attention. Jesus, our ultimate example, was always heard by His Father and the writer of Hebrews tells us why:
In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. (Hebrews 5:7 ESV)
God’s Ground Rules in Prayer
There are some conditions to prayer. One is desperation and the humility that is borne out of our recognition of need and admission of sin. But further, God hears and answers the prayers of those who are willing to reverently follow what He reveals. Why would He answer prayers if He knows we have no intention of obeying Him?
For instance, let’s say your son not only wants a car, but he needs a car for transportation and he asks you for this provision. But, he has repeatedly violated the use of your car each time it has been entrusted to him. And, he openly tells you that if he gets a car, he will use it to speed, go places where he should not go and do things you know are harmful to him. Would you answer his pleas for a car? To do so would be less than loving. Further, to wisely withhold the provision would potentially create a desire for the car that is so great it might lead him to humbly submit to your directives about its use.
Andrew Murray says, “…why are there such numberless unanswered prayers? …Christ taught us that the answer depended upon certain conditions. He spoke of faith, of perseverance, of praying in His Name, of praying the will of God. But all of these conditions were summed up in the one central one: ‘If you abide in Me, ask whatsoever you will and it shall be done unto you.’ It became clear that the power to pray the effectual prayer of faith depended upon the life. It is only to a man given up to live as entirely in Christ and for Christ as the branch in the vine and for the vine, that these promises can come true.” (“The Ministry of Intercession: A Plea for More Prayer”)
God’s Grace in Prayer
Nobody deserves God’s attention. Every time He bends His ear to hear the cries of sinners saved by grace, it is an act of pure mercy and compassion. We will never be “good enough” to merit answered prayer. Always, we come to God in the name of Jesus. We come because our Elder Brother said we could come and provided a way to have “peace facing God” through His blood shed for our sins.
But prayer is not a heavenly slot machine. It is connecting with the God of the universe. We come on His terms, not ours. We may say that we are waiting on God to answer our prayers and may even be frustrated in His slowness. It may be that God has other reasons for the delay. He is waiting because He knows its best. He is delaying answers because things are not ready and it is not time. But, it may be He is waiting for piety. For the reverence for Him that results in a surrendered life.
God’s Purpose in Prayer
God is never random in the design of His disciplines. He plans for prayer to be our means of communion with Him, but also a tool to develop us and accomplish great purposes in and through our lives. Time in His presence will change us into His likeness and fit us for His work. His conditions for prayer push us toward a life in conformity to Him.
This is no game. God has a lot at stake. We cannot play around with God and expect our lives to fulfill their destiny—a destiny found through communion with Him in prayer and His word. God needs serious men and women as His instruments to accomplish His agenda. If we desire God’s attention, we must give Him ours, not only in prayer but in a Godward life. And that application must begin right now.
Copyright © 2011 Bill Elliff