You were designed for answered prayer. Answered prayer begins in the place where God first moves upon our heart with the revelation of His will, and then moves upon us to work in cooperation with His will and release it in prayer. It is the place where we are most certain God is moving by His Spirit when we pray, even though we may not see an immediate change in the physical circumstances.
Romans 8:26-27 puts it this way. ‘The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.’
From the above scripture we learn two important truths concerning prayer:
a. We do not know (in the natural) what we ought to pray for.
b. We must allow the Holy Spirit to teach us.
When we do not receive an immediate answer to prayer we must begin by acknowledging that it is never because of a shortcoming on God’s part. There may be a reason for the delay, or there may be a work that God is wanting to do in our hearts. But do not think that you or your prayers have to be perfect. The truth is that God is not looking for children who never make a mistake. On the contrary, He is looking for children who are eager to learn and have a longing to please Him. When we error, He lovingly corrects us and leads us into the place of meeting with Him so He can teach us His ways.
In the place of intimacy with God, He imparts understanding and grace to follow the leading of His Spirit, both in our prayer time, as well as in our lives. It is in the meeting place with Him that hindrances to answered prayer are removed as we remain open to the leading of His Spirit in the following ways:
1. Anticipate that the Holy Spirit will make known to you the will of God.
1 John 5:13-15 ‘This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask- we know that we have what we asked of him.’
(See also John 16:13, Matt 6:33 and John 6:38-39)
The focus of our prayers should be our Father’s Kingdom. It is the very essence of why we should long to meet with Him. Whether we believe that we already know the will of God, or we are seeking Him for His will, we must remember that prayer is not our attempt to convince God to do something. On the contrary, included in the purpose of prayer is the aligning of ourselves with His will.
Leonard Ravenhill said,
“Prayer is not an argument with God to persuade
Him to move things our way,
but an exercise by which we are enabled
by the Holy Spirit to move ourselves His way.”
2. Believe that the Holy Spirit will help you to pray in faith.
Matt 21:22 ‘If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.’ (see also Heb 12:2 and Matt 13:58)
Faith is not something you work up to. Faith is something you receive as His Word is made alive in you (Romans 10:17). For this reason it is best to read the Word of God before you even begin to pray. In fact, your entire prayer time should be infused with scriptures which God has made alive to you at some point in your life.
Meditate on any Word that stands out to you and allow His Holy Spirit to pray His word through you in faith. Reword it to fit your situation and it will cause you to pray in faith, as well as to continue in prayer until you have reassurance from the Holy Spirit that He is moving on the prayer need.
3. Trust that the Holy Spirit will give you the grace to be persistent.
Luke 11:8 ‘I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man’s boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs.’
Persistence is not a tool for convincing God to do something. Instead, it is part of the process God uses to mature us and prepare us for the answer.
George Mueller said,
“It is not enough to begin to pray, or to pray aright,
nor is it enough to continue for a time to pray,
but we must patiently, believingly, continue in
prayer until we receive an answer.”
Never give up, God’s timing is perfect, not only for your situation but also for your heart.
4. Entrust that the Holy Spirit will give you grace (enabling power) to listen and obey what He says.
1 John 3:21-23 ‘Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.’ (See also Zech 7:13, Jeremiah 15:1 and Proverbs 28:9)
We can’t expect to pray and receive answers if we are not willing to live in obedience to Him. Living in rebellion discredits God and His provision. Living in obedience honors Him and what He does for us.
5. Seek guidance from the Holy Spirit to pray in Jesus’ Name. (His Name stands for His authority, power, character, attributes, and renown; and we have been given His Name.)
John 14: 12-14 ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, “he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.”’ See also 16:26-28)
Praying in Jesus’ Name means that after meeting with Him, we are changed more into His likeness, and we are enabled to go out into our world as His representatives to impact our world in the same manner Jesus would impact it if His feet were standing on the earth in the midst of your circumstances.
For now, focus on the truth that He wants to meet with you. And while meeting with you He will graciously reveal anything that could hinder your prayers—prayers that have been ordained by God to impact your world.
6. Be open to the Holy Spirit showing you hindrances in your heart. (Jeremiah 17:9-10, Ps 139:23)
Remember, God accepts you in the place where you are, but He loves you too much to leave you there. He does not reveal hindrances in your heart to condemn you. Quite the opposite is true. He reveals what is in your heart to make you more like Him in prayer.
Ps 24:3-4 ‘Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart.’
Ps 66:17-20 ‘If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer. (I John 1:6-9, 2 Tim 2:22)
James 5:16 ‘Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.’
Do not let the previous list overwhelm you as though you have to examine each one every day to receive answers to prayer. Simply be aware of them and allow the Holy Spirit to reveal anything you need to make right with God. As we will see in future blogs, it is from this meeting place with God that power will flow through you to impact your world.
In our book, we cover 4 additional aspects of answered prayer. For further study order your copy of “Where Heaven Meets Earth – Intimacy and Impact through Prayer”
Contact us about hosting a “Where Heaven Meets Earth” Prayer Conference.