Seven Keys to Prayer
What is prayer? Is it more than just saying words into empty air? Sometimes it’s not. But if you believe in God and His Word, you can understand what prayer really is and who you are praying to. It will be more than empty words, and it can and will change your life!
Your Creator wants to hear from you, build a relationship with you, answer your prayers. And He shows you how! Here are seven keys to prayer straight from God’s Word, the Bible. Use these and you can have confidence that God will hear and answer you.
1) Learn God’s will.
“And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him” (1 John 5:14-15).
When we ask for our own selfish desires, we are asking for something in conflict with the will of the loving God and should expect no answers (James 4:1-3). Instead, follow Christ’s example. “… I seek not mine own will,” He said, “but the will of the Father which hath sent me” (John 5:30). God does make it possible to know His will (Ephesians 5:17); He reveals it in His Word. If we study it, we begin to think more like God and pray according to His will, asking for what is truly good for us (2 Timothy 2:15).
2) Pray with fear and humility.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments …” (Psalm 111:10). To fear God is to revere Him, His law and His will. It springs from love and deep respect for God’s power and authority over us. Even Christ prayed to the Father with this perspective: “Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared” (Hebrews 5:7). As 1 Peter 5:5 says, “[B]e clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.”
3) Obey God.
“[T]o this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word” (Isaiah 66:2). Fear disobeying God, and strive to obey Him. If you don’t, you cannot come to know Him through prayer.
Sin cuts us off from God so “he will not hear” our prayers (Isaiah 59:1-2). Sin is breaking God’s law (1 John 3:4). God’s law, expressing His way of life, is described in His Ten Commandments and throughout the Bible. “And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight” (1 John 3:22). We all sin, but we must be striving with God’s help to conquer those sins. This is a prerequisite for God hearing our prayers.
4) Believe God.
“… What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them” (Mark 11:24). For God to hear you, it is essential that you believe in Him and believe Him. Build faith, act on it, and God will answer you (see James 2:20).
“But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord” (James 1:6-7). This is why the skeptic will never have his prayers answered.
If we lack faith to trust God, we can ask God to give it to us (Mark 9:24)—it is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). (Order our free booklet What Is Faith? to learn more.)
5) Pray fervently.
“… The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16). Energetic, heartfelt prayers are well pleasing to God, and when you pour your heart out, you can expect answers.
God preserved the Psalms to show us what fervent prayer sounds like. Many are prayers from King David and other biblical giants, filled with heartfelt emotion. And there is no better example than Christ, who, throughout His physical life and especially in times of trial, prayed earnestly, with all His heart! (e.g. Luke 22:44).
6) Pray persistently.
Oftentimes, it seems God does not answer right away. Do not lose faith. Do not give up praying. God promises to answer when you fulfill His requirements, but He does not promise how or when. Be patient and persistent, growing in faith and fervency, rather than fading (see Luke 18:1-8).
“Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (James 1:3-4). Persist. Believe. Claim God’s promises. Continue to be fervent. Wait and hope and look for God.
7) Use Christ’s name.
“… Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you,” Christ said. “[A]sk, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:23-24).
This passage gives us the privilege to ask through Christ and by His authority. We have access to God the Father because of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:13, 18). The Father has given Christ an office of authority that enables Him to intercede for us as our Advocate (Hebrews 4:14-16). Of course, we must know God’s will and use the other keys to be able to pray properly “in Jesus’s name.”
These keys on how to pray, when followed, allow you to boldly approach God in your prayer and know that you will receive answers!
For more instruction on this vital subject, request a copy of our free booklet How to Pray.