“But the man who has doubts (misgivings, an uneasy conscience) about eating, and then eats [perhaps because of you], stands condemned [before God], because he is not true to his convictions and he does not act from faith. For whatever does not originate and proceed from faith is sin [whatever is done without a conviction of its approval by God is sinful].” Romans 14:23 Amp.
I use the following checklist to help me when I pray. I’ve learned that merely uttering words doesn’t always constitute prayer. While it would be great to simply pray to God as a child prays to his father, I’ve discovered that in reality, such faith doesn’t come easily to me. And I’m not alone. It’s hard to find a Christian who has prevailed in prayer who simply took prayer casually. God is personal but majestic. There is a right way to pray and a wrong way to pray. We must have faith as in Mark 11:24 to pray and receive regularly. Also Hebrews 11:6 clearly says that without faith it’s impossible to please God. Yes, that kind of faith is a gift. But is a gift that must be exercised diligently. If it were not so, all of us will be praying faith-filled prayers that get answers.
- God’s glory.
- God’s will
- Faith – God’s faith
- Motive – God’s motive
- Persistence – God’s strength to persist
- Timing – God’s timing
1. God’s glory
The purpose of ALL prayer must be to Glorify God. That’s it! That’s why we were created. The sole reason we should pray should be for God’s glory. This applies to our needs, careers, ministries, and to everything else. It’s a waste of time to ask God to do something that is not for his glory. God will never do something that is not for his glory. If it’s not for his glory, then its for ours. Many of our prayers don’t get answered because they our motivated by our needs, not God’s glory. God is preoccupied with his glory. It is his motivation for everything he does. The only words he has ears for are the ones that are either giving him glory right now (through worship & praise) or the ones that are asking him to do something to glorify himself (our prayers.) Before we open our mouths to pray, we should ask ourselves, why should God answer our prayers? What’s in it for Him? There is only one thing God wants. His glory. There is only one thing God accepts. His glory. When we go to God without thinking about his glory, we are actually offensive. God is a king sitting on the throne waiting for his people to come to him and glorify him. Don’t go to his throne room except to glorify him! God defends this glory very fiercely. He says, “I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not give my glory to anyone else, nor share my praise with carved idols.” (Isaiah 42:8 NLT). No offense, but we are no better than carved idols in terms of receiving God’s glory or praise. He says in Isaiah 48:11 “For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act; For how can My name be profaned? And My glory I will not give to another.” NASB
2. God’s will
God “works all things after the counsel of His will” Ephesians 1:11 NASB
Is it God’s will? To be confident that you will get an affirmative answer to your prayer, you must be sure it’s God’s will. You can know God’s will either by the word or the Holy Spirit. Both confirm each other.
By the Word: Do you see a promise in the Bible that applies to you? Make sure you meet all the requirements for the verse to apply to you. Don’t claim what doesn’t belong to you. If you do, then you can be 100% sure that it’s God’s will. 1 John 5:14-15
By the Holy Spirit: Not everything that we need to pray for will be clearly written in the Bible. In cases when it’s not, then we rely on the Holy Spirit and the application of the principles of the Bible. The Spirit and the Word must be one. “When we have a specific promise in the Word of God, if we doubt that it is God’s will or if we doubt that God will do what we ask, we make God a liar.” (c.f. 1 John 5:10) R. A. Torrey
If you don’t have God’s clear will, you can pray “father if it’s your will do this…” Jesus prayed that in the garden of Gethsemane. But this shouldn’t be common since we know God’s will about many things in the scriptures… and we can know also by the spirit.
What God has done for someone else, he is able to do again, but don’t assume that he wants to do it for you.
“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mark 11:24
You have faith in God for what you are praying. If not build your faith with specific scriptures on it, specific testimony etc. Faith that sees. Faith is vision. Mark 11:24; Faith that receives from afar.
To build your faith do the following:
– Meditate on the scriptures where God promises to answer our prayers.
– Meditate on scriptures that talk about the sovereignty of God.
– Meditate on the truth that “Nothing is impossible with God” — You want to have faith that God can.
– Meditate on the scriptures that show that what you are asking is God’s will. — You want to have faith that God will because it’s his will to.
– Know for sure that it’s for God’s glory. God’s grace is for his glory.
– Meditate on the truth that God is the owner and creator of all the Universe.
– Meditate on the sovereignty of God and all his other attributes.
– Check your motive. It must be love. The greatest commandment is to love. Those who love God will seek to bring him glory motivated by love.
To build faith you must ensure that you have the positives and avoid the negatives (the hindrances to answered prayer).
Faith is looking unto God in complete surrender and dependence.
4. Motive: is LOVE for God and each other. This love motivates us to seek to bring God glory. God’s grace is for his glory.
5. Persistence: Be ready to pray persistently (daily) and patiently until you get the answer, don’t quit. Pray without ceasing.
6. Timing: God is guaranteed to grant us his will when we pray. Sometimes, we may have to wait. Look at how God said told Abraham in a covenant he made with him to give him the land of Canaan… “In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.” The Israelites had to wait in slavery for 430 years for this to happen. The land was going to be given, but they had to wait. Sometimes, the things we pray for require that we also wait. George Muller prayed daily for the conversion of a person for over 52 years before that person finally came to faith. We don’t have to know the timing, but being aware of this is important because that may be why we need to wait.
It’s also important to watch out for things that can hinder prayer.
Avoid Hindrances to prayer.
- Evil motives / selfish prayers (James 4:3)
- Unconfessed Sin (Isaiah 59:1-2 & Psalm 66:18)
- Idol worship (Ezekiel 14:3) — God through the 10 commandments and confess them.
- Stinginess (Prov. 21:13; Luke 6:3; 1 John 3:22)
- Unforgiving spirit (Mark 11:25)
- Mistreating subordinates (1 Peter 3:7)
- Lack of faith. James 1:5-7. Without faith it is impossible to please God.
- Not Praying in Jesus’ Name –Not simply mentioning it. (John 14:13)
- Not living for God’s purposes (Proverbs 28:9; 1 John 3:22) –Are we making disciples? Are we obeying godly authority? etc.
- Not doing God’s will. What we are asking is not God’s will.
- Lack of persistence.