Seven Keys to Answered Prayer

The Philadelphia Trumpet, in conjunction with the Herbert W. Armstrong College Bible Correspondence Course, presents this brief excursion into the fascinating study of the Bible. Simply turn to and read in your Bible each verse given in answer to the questions. You will be amazed at the new understanding gained from this short study!

God has literally hundreds of promises written down for you in His Word saying that under certain terms and conditions, He will cause things to happen for you if you will ask Him. He promises supernatural intervention. He promises to deliver you from trouble, to supply your every necessity, to fight your personal battles for you, to heal you when you are sick and even to prosper you financially!

Why then, do the prayers of most people go unanswered? The vast majority simply do not know how to pray. The Bible reveals seven basic conditions you should fulfill to be certain your prayers will be answered. Let’s learn what they are.

1. Know God’s Will

1. To get answers to our prayers, what example did Jesus set that we should follow? John 5:30, last part. Are we also to understand God’s will? Ephesians 5:17. How can we get to know His will? 2 Timothy 2:15.

Comment: By studying God’s will, which is revealed in the Bible, you will begin to think more as God thinks. You will come to know that God is love and that His will is for our good.

2. If we pray according to God’s will, can we know that God will answer our prayers? 1 John 5:14-15.

3. After God led the people of Israel out of slavery in Egypt, they rebelled to the extent that His wrath was stirred! Consequently, what did God tell Moses He would do? Exodus 32:9-10. Did Moses immediately intercede on behalf of Israel and ask God to spare the nation? Verses 11-13. Did God listen to Moses? Verse 14.

Comment: Notice how Moses pleaded with God. He recalled the promises God had made to Abraham, Isaac and Israel, which revealed God’s will to multiply and bless their descendants. It was Moses’s faith in those promises—and his assurance that God would abide by them—that gave him such boldness in talking to his Creator!

4. Are we to approach God’s glorious throne with boldness? Hebrews 4:16.

Comment: When Moses prayed for Israel, he was able to pray boldly and courageously because he knew God’s will. To pray with real faith and confidence, you too must first know God’s will. You must come to know how God thinks and acts. You must understand the purpose He is working out on Earth and the promises He has made in His Word.

2. Believe God

1. According to Jesus Christ, is it essential to believe God before we can receive what we ask of Him? Mark 11:24.

Comment: Most people do not realize that a disbelief that God will keep His promises or back up His Word is simply a lack of faith.

2. Does the Apostle James, the brother of Jesus, confirm that faith is an absolute prerequisite to receiving answers to our prayers? James 1:5-7.

Comment: The person who “wavers,” or doubts God, will not receive an answer to his prayers. If you lack the faith to trust God, ask God to give it to you. After all, faith is one of the “fruits” of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22), which is a gift from God.

3. A stunning example of answered prayer is recorded in 1 Kings 18:20-39, where you read about the Prophet Elijah confronting the false prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. Was there any doubt in Elijah’s mind that God would perform a miraculous feat? 1 Kings 18:36-37. Did Elijah get the results he prayed for? Verses 38-39.

Comment: Notice that Elijah, like Moses, knew God’s will and gave it as a reason for God to intervene (verse 36)—never doubting that He would!

3. Obey God

To get results from your prayers, you must not only know God’s will and believe Him, you must also be willing to act on His Word.

1. What does God label the person who says he “knows God,” and yet does not keep His commandments? 1 John 2:4.

Comment: If you haven’t yet learned to accept God’s Word as the authority in your life, then you can’t really get to know God through prayer.

2. Can those who persistently refuse to keep God’s commandments really expect Him to answer their prayers? 1 Peter 3:12. What is “doing evil”—what is sin? 1 John 3:4. Does sin cut you off from God? Isaiah 59:1-2.

Comment: Here is one of the major reasons why so many prayers are not answered. God will not listen to a person who rebels and persistently disobeys His Word.

However, in certain instances, God does sometimes hear and answer the prayers of those who, in ignorance of the full intent of His law, are not conscious of their sins, but obey Him as far as they know. The lepers and cripples who came to Jesus to be healed didn’t know all of God’s truth, but they did realize that Jesus was sent from God and could heal; and they acted on what they knew.

So it is a matter of your heart or attitude. If you come to God in a humble, repentant spirit and are determined to obey Him to the best of your knowledge and ability, He will hear your prayers. But for anyone who knows the truth, there is no excuse to disobey God.

3. Can true Christians have a special confidence that God will answer their prayers if they are obedient? 1 John 3:22.

4. Fear and Humility

Too many have a self-sufficient attitude and think they can get along fine without God. They neither fear God, nor respect His Word as the authority in their lives. If people with that mindset pray, does God respond? Let’s understand.

1. What is the first prerequisite to be able to understand God and His ways? Psalms 111:10; 112:1.

Comment: To “fear” God means to revere Him—to stand in awe of Him, His law, His government and His will for us. It means we are apprehensive to disobey Him. The fear of God is not dread or terror. Rather, it springs from love. When we approach our Creator in that attitude—deeply respecting His power and authority over our lives—He will hear our prayers.

2. What kind of person does God relate to? Isaiah 66:2.

Comment: The word poor refers to humility, not poverty. God regards those who are truly humble—void of pride, arrogance and self-righteousness. He esteems those who tremble at, or very carefully observe, His words; and those who are of a contrite spirit—deeply affected by and repentant of disobeying His instructions and commandments.

On the other hand, God resists the proud (James 4:6).

The attitude of godly fear and humility is vital in prayer and at all other times.

5. Be Fervent

1. How is fervent prayer described in the Bible? 2 Chronicles 32:20; Psalm 62:8.

Comment: Notice the words “prayed and cried” (figuratively crying out, and at times literally crying) and “pour out your heart.”

It is common today among many to recite brief, memorized prayers, word for word. God is not moved by prayers of rote because they are not from the heart.

2. How fervent was Jesus in His prayers? Hebrews 5:7.

Comment: When Jesus prayed to the Father, He meant it. His prayers had deep meaning. He felt them. He was deeply moved on many occasions when He communed with God.

3. What can you expect if you pray fervently? James 5:16.

Comment: This kind of prayer “avails much”—it achieves great results! Energetic, heartfelt prayers are well-pleasing to God. When you wholeheartedly call upon God, you can expect real answers to your prayers.

6. Be Persistent

Some people, if God doesn’t answer right away, begin to lose faith and give up praying. They forget that although God promises to answer when we ask according to His will, He nowhere promises to answer right away. God does not tell us exactly how or precisely when the answer will come.

1. Is this why Jesus gave the parable of the persistent widow? Luke 18:1-8.

Comment: The New International Version correctly renders the words “not to faint” as “not give up”! Jesus gave this parable to show that even an unrighteous judge would finally hear the pleas of a widow who kept coming to him. So we should keep praying to God, even though He sometimes doesn’t answer right away.

2. Is God building patient faith into our character if we have to wait on Him to answer a prayer? James 1:3-4.

Comment: We must be persistent in prayer until God answers. If He doesn’t answer your prayers immediately, exercise patience and keep praying until He does answer.

However, don’t nag at God! He has supreme wisdom to know when and how to best answer your prayers. Occasionally remind God about your problems or afflictions; don’t cease praying about them.

God always keeps His promises—He cannot lie (Titus 1:2)—so He is bound to perform His part in His own time.

7. Use Christ’s Name

The seventh condition of answered prayer is the correct use of Christ’s name. This is a greatly misunderstood subject, and Christ’s name is often abused.

1. Is it possible to have access to the Father apart from Jesus Christ? Ephesians 2:13, 18.

2. After Jesus had been with His disciples for over three years and had taught them God’s will and how to obey it, how did He say they could petition the Father directly, for His help? John 14:13-14; 16:23-24.

Comment: These verses give us the privilege of employing Christ’s name—asking by His authority—when we pray to God the Father.

Most people misunderstand how we can ask “in Jesus’s name.” When a government sends an ambassador—its chosen representative—to another country, he is given authority to carry out certain business in the name of, or on behalf of, that government. His authority is limited to do only what the government has specifically authorized him to do. Likewise, God’s children can rightfully ask the Father for things “in Jesus’s name” when they know it is His will—that His authority stands behind it. Just rattling off the words “in Jesus’s name” to a prayer that is contrary to His will is of no avail! You need to study the Bible to know more about the principles of Christ’s will, in order that you may ask by His authority.

God wants to hear from you, but He will not force you to do anything. You must choose to rely on Him—to humble yourself, recognize your weaknesses, and depend on Him. When you do, your prayers will accomplish a miraculous change in your life. So pray to God every day—continually, regularly, fervently—and expect God to answer!