God has recorded hundreds of promises in His Word that, under certain conditions, He will cause things to happen for you if you will ask Him. He promises to deliver you from trouble, to supply your needs, to fight your personal battles, to heal you when you are sick, and even to prosper you financially!
You have unfathomable power at your disposal! God has millions of angels waiting to do as He commands and limitless resources at hand to fulfill your requests.
But there are conditions. Many times God does not answer our prayers because these conditions are not being met. This is why the prayers of most people go unanswered.
The Bible reveals seven basic conditions you should fulfill to be certain your prayers will be answered. As you study these, think about why our failure to use these keys may cause God to withhold His answer to our prayers. This provides invaluable clues about God’s purpose in having us pray each day.
What would it be worth to you if I could tell you exactly how you could always pray to God for every need, for help and deliverance from every trouble and always get the answer? If I could show you a way to always know you are going to actually get what you ask of God?
I can tell you that. I have found the way, myself. … [T]here is not one thing I have had to rely upon God for and ask Him for in prayer, for myself and family or this wonderful Work of His, which He has committed to me, that has not been answered. …
I have had to ask God to deliver us and His Work, from enemies. I have asked Him for understanding of His will and His Word. I have had to ask for wisdom where I had none, and for guidance. I have been at my wit’s end in desperate trouble and cried out to God for deliverance. God has answered every time. Never once has there been a failure to get the answer. …
Before you ask God for anything, you must first know whether it is His will. He tells us His will in the Bible. He has made us hundreds of definite promises and He absolutely guarantees He will keep them! Among them He has promised to supply every need—not desire or want, but every need. He has promised to give us wisdom, to deliver us from every affliction, trouble or temptation, to fight our enemies for us and deliver us from their power, to guide and direct us in making right and wise decisions. He has promised to heal us when we are sick.
Those are a few of the things we know it is God’s will to do for us—things for which we may ask and be sure we shall get the answer! But there are conditions!
—Herbert W. Armstrong, Good News, October 1964
1. Know God’s Will
Note again this unwavering promise: “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that if we ask any thingaccording 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).
There it is in plain language: Receiving answers to our prayers requires that we ask according to God’s will. Clearly God would not fulfill even the most passionate, sincere petitions that were evil or that opposed His purposes.
Therefore, we must know God’s will, “understandingwhat the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:17). Then, understanding it, we are to strive to live by it, following the example of Christ, who said, “I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me” (John 5:30).
How can we get to know His will? The foundation of that understanding comes by studying it as revealed in the Bible (2 Timothy 2:15). The better you know God’s will, the more you will begin to think as He thinks. You will recognize that He is love and that His will is for our good.
A marvelous example of such prayer is recorded in Exodus 32. After being freed from Egypt, the Israelites rebelled against God and stirred His wrath. God told Moses that He was ready to destroy them (verses 9-10). Moses immediately began interceding on their behalf, saying, “Lord, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand? Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever” (verses 11-13).
Moses prayed by recalling God’s promises to Abraham, Isaac and Israel, which revealed God’s will to multiply and bless their descendants. Moses’s faith in those promises and assurance that God would keep them gave him boldness in talking to God. Yes, we are to approach God’s glorious throne with boldness! (Hebrews 4:16).
And how did God respond? “And the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people” (Exodus 32:14).
Moses could pray boldly and courageously because he knew God’s will. To pray with real faith and confidence, you too must know God’s will. You must come to know how He thinks and acts. You must understand the purpose He is working out on Earth and the promises He has made in His Word.
God wants us to understand His will and align our thinking with it. And He wants us prayingaccording to that will. Doing this will give us confidence that whatever we ask, we will have it!
2. Believe God
Here is a beautiful promise from Jesus Christ Himself: “Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them” (Mark 11:24).
It is essential to believe God before we can receive what we ask of Him. Disbelief that God will keep His promises or back up His Word is a lack of faith. God wants us to build faith and trust in Him.
“[W]ithout faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). Faith is essential to breaking through to God. Lack of real faith is a prime reason millions of prayers go unheard and unanswered.
Christ taught this vital truth. Of two blind men seeking healing, He asked, “Believe ye that I am able to do this?” When they replied yes, He said, “According to your faith be it unto you,” and then healed them (Matthew 9:27-30).
When you get on your knees, how sincerely do you believe God will answer you? As we saw in the last chapter, the Apostle James, the brother of Jesus, confirmed that faith is a prerequisite to receiving answers. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth [or doubts] 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 1:5-7).
Pray in faith! Realize as you pray that you have the undivided attention of this magnificently brilliant, all-powerful, divine Being. Do not waver, being tossed with the wind. God will not answer such requests. Unless you do sense and feel that you are getting through to God, your prayers won’t be effective.
We should be positive in prayer, confident that God is hearing us and will answer (Matthew 21:22). Believing prayer fulfills the purpose for prayer: It draws us closer to our heavenly Father as we demonstrate and grow in the childlike trust He wants to build in us.
You can’t perform miracles. But God can … and will …. I know that what you can do by sacrificing other things and sending in money is limited—but what can be done by your urgent prayers is unlimited. … We … need miracles …. Please go to your knees and ask for it. Ask believingly!
—Herbert W. Armstrong, member letter, May 16, 1977
How can you obtain such faith? Think on this statement in Romans 10:17 about where faith comes from: “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” If you have not studied God’s Word for His promises, how could you believe those promises? How well could you even know the God who answers prayer?
Learning God’s promises through daily Bible study will make us stronger in faith. By studying and meditating on God’s Word, we learn intimately how God’s many promises in the Bible apply to us.
Faith is not an emotion you work up. It is not something you attain by agonizing struggle. It is God’s gift (Ephesians 2:8). Faith is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22). When a person turns from sin and surrenders to God and His government through baptism, God will give that person the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, which imparts faith (Acts 2:38).
If you desire more of God’s Holy Spirit—and more faith—then go before God in humble supplication on your knees and ask for it! (Galatians 2:16, 20; Luke 11:9).
A stunning example of answered prayer is recorded in 1 Kings 18:20-39, where the Prophet Elijah confronts the false prophets of Baal. Elijah was confident, knowing God would perform a miracle. And he got the results he prayed for! Like Moses, Elijah knew God’s will and gave it as a reason for God to intervene (verse 36)—never doubting He would. Of course, Elijah had done ample prayer and fasting in preparation for this dramatic conflict.
So here is the lesson you must learn—the lesson of faith—if you would get answers to your prayers. First, search the Bible to see whether God has promised to do what you ask but remember, God nowhere promises when or how He will do it!
That’s the thing to remember! Never forget it! God has not promised He will do it instantly, or when you expect or how you expect. All He has promised is to do it! He does things in His own time. And sometimes I have found God is not in so great a hurry as we. And God works in mysterious ways to perform His wonders—not in the ways nor at the time we expect.
It is sufficient for you that God has promised! Take it to Him, claim His promise, ask Him to do what He has promised and then leave it in His hands—rely on Him—trust Him, serene and unshaken in the definite assurance it is now in God’s hands, and He has promised and He will attend to it without fail.
He may perform what He has promised instantaneously. Or He may not. He may test your faith and permit Satan to tempt you with his physical, sensual evidence to see if you will doubt God’s Word.
—Herbert W. Armstrong, Good News, April 1980
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. Another key to answered prayer is obedience.
Possibly the most obvious reason so many prayers go unanswered is that man refuses to obey God. Sin is the breaking of God’s law (1 John 3:4). The Bible plainly states that God does not hear unrepentant sinners (e.g., Proverbs 15:29; 28:9; Isaiah 1:15; 59:1-2; Micah 3:4). Most of man’s prayers go unanswered—or aren’t even heard—because of sin! Hypocritical prayers are an abomination to God (Proverbs 28:9). He wants us to live by every word. Unless we do, even our prayers can become sin (Psalm 109:7).
Those who persistently refuse to keep God’s commandments should not expect Him to answer their prayers. “For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil” (1 Peter 3:12). God hears the prayer of the righteous. What good would it do for God to answer if we were rebelling against Him?
If you have not yet accepted God’s Word as the authority in your life, then you cannot really get to know God through prayer. In fact, God labels the person who says he “knows God,” yet does not keep His commandments, a liar (1 John 2:4).
Sin cuts you off from God! The Prophet Isaiah wrote, “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear” (Isaiah 59:2). This is a major reason so many prayers are not answered. God will not listen to a person who rebels and persistently disobeys His Word.
Of course, we are all sinners and as such cut off from God (Romans 5:12; 3:23). How then will God ever hear us?
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 did not 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.
But if we want our prayers consistently answered, we must first confront any sin that separates us from God and ask Him to grant us repentance (Romans 2:4). 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. God will never hear sinners who want to remain in their sin—but He is quick to respond to those who want to change, even while they are yet sinners.
Remember, God says of us—of this Church: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14). We may think, because we keep His Sabbath, that we have no wicked ways or sins to turn from. But laxity or neglect of prayer can be sin. Getting our hearts and interests more in worldly ways and interests and pleasures can be sin.
—Herbert W. Armstrong, member letter, November 2, 1972
Look at the example of the Prophet Daniel. After deeply humbling himself in repentant prayer, an angel came to him, and said: “Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words” (Daniel 10:12).
If a person departs from sin and cries out to God from his heart, his prayer will be heard! God is extremely merciful and will hear us from the moment that we begin to want to communicate with Him.
God has such love for us that He wants all of us to turn from sin (2 Peter 3:9). We should never let our weakness in dealing with sin keep us from communicating with God. Instead, we should ask Him for greater desire to vanquish sin—for help to conquer and squash anything that keeps us from earnest communication with Him.
For your prayers to be heard, strive to serve God with a sincere, faithful and devoted heart. Obedience and a desire to obey in your thoughts, words and actions is key!
“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). If we are pleasing God, He will set those spiritual forces in motion: Give that son of mine what he is asking for!
If your prayers have not been answered, it is your fault, not God’s. Fast … to learn where you have been wrong. Perhaps you asked for something you should not have asked. Perhaps you were too far apart from God and close to this world and material problems or pleasures. When you pray while fasting, examine yourself! Discern whether your attitude has been right. Seek to draw closer to God and to His will. Seek for faith (which He will give you). Then, when you have undergone this self-cleansing, and know you are in God’s will, believe His promises and expect your prayers to be answered.
—Herbert W. Armstrong, Good News, January 1980
4. Have Proper Fear and Humility
God says He dwells “in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit” (Isaiah 57:15). Do you want to dwell with God? This is the key!
Think on this when you bow yourself down in prayer, when you humble yourself before your Maker. Prayer is a wonderful tool to help us understand and think like God.
The word “contrite,” according to Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon, means: “1) to break in pieces, to crush, 2) to be crushed, humbled, broken in spirit, 3) broken very small.” God says this is what must happen to man—if we are to dwell with Him in His “high and holy place.” Today, man is filled with pride, vanity and rebellion toward God. That rebellious spirit must be crushed and broken before we can dwell with God! … It’s not easy to have that self-willed spirit crushed. In fact, it’s the hardest thing we have ever had to do! But it can be done, with joy, through the power of God’s Holy Spirit.
The first prerequisite to be able to understand God and His ways is godly fear. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments …” (Psalm 111:10). This fear is not dread or terror; rather, it springs from love. To “fear” God means to revere Him, His law, His government and His will for us. It means we are afraid to disobey Him. When we approach our Creator with deep respect for His power and authority over our lives, He will hear our prayers.
God says, “[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). The word poor refers not to poverty, but humility. God regards those who are truly humble—void of pride, arrogance and self-righteousness. He esteems those of a contrite spirit, deeply affected by and repentant of disobeying His instructions and commandments; and those who tremble at, or carefully observe, His words. When we fear God and respect His authority, He responds to our petitions.
On the other hand, God resists the proud (James 4:6). 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, why would God respond? He will not walk with the proud and high-minded. He will not hear the prayers of the proud or the self-righteous (Luke 18:9-14).
Prayer, more than anything else, is an act of submission to God the Father and His will. God knows what we need, but He wants to make sure that He has first priority in our lives.
One reason we sometimes struggle with prayer is because we simply will not submit to God and continually put Him first in our lives.
The attitude of godly fear and humility is vital in prayer and at all other times.
An aspect of humility is to approach God with an attitude of thanksgiving (Psalm 100:4). As you come before God in prayer, be fully conscious and aware of the power, majesty and holiness of the eternal Creator God to whom you are praying. Don’t approach Him sleepily, carelessly or casually and fail to have a deeply respectful, humble attitude. Realize that you are coming before the very throne of the Ruler of the universe!
God commands throughout His Word that we be thankful for what we are given. Philippians 4:6 makes the point that even when making requests of God in prayer, we should do so with a grateful attitude: “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” Our prayers should be filled with thanksgiving.
In our materialistic society, many people try to get more based on ungratefulness—never being satisfied with what they have. If our prayers have that spirit—if we ask for things out of lust—they will yield no results (James 4:3). But grateful prayers can produce amazing results!
When King Jehoshaphat heard reports that the Ammonite and Moabite armies would attack Judah, he proclaimed a fast among the people. His effectual prayer is recorded in 2 Chronicles 20. First he began to praise God’s greatness (verses 6-9). Then he brought up the problem of converging enemies. You can read how dramatically God answered Jehoshaphat’s prayer in verse 22, when God Himself caused the enemy armies to destroy each other!
Don’t neglect to sincerely and wholeheartedly thank God for the many blessings you have received. Use this powerful tool in your prayers: Preface your requests with profuse thanksgiving—gratefulness directly associated with what you are asking for. This is an important way to be positive as you pray, focusing your attention on positive aspects of your calling and your life. Teach this lesson to your children—to be thankful to you as a parent, and ultimately to the great, generous God.
5. Be Fervent
It is common today among many to recite brief, memorized prayers, word for word. Routine, rote prayers do not move God because they are not from the heart.
Imagine you receive an invitation for a private audience with the Queen of England. Would you go with a ho-hum attitude, droopy-eyed and drowsy, mumbling some words before falling asleep? How much more disrespectful is it to come before our heavenly Father in such a manner—entering His glorious and awe-inspiring throne room to mumble a few words when we are half asleep?
God desires our fervent prayers. Fervency is an essential element to powerful prayer.
Do you realize that the right kind of prayer energizes you? If you are out of energy, ask God for it, and He will energize you!
“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16). In this verse, “effectual fervent” comes from a single Greek word: energeo! This prayer gets results because of the energy, effort and labor poured into it.
Fervency means more than persistence. It includes feeling and expression, extreme vigor and ardor, being in a state of intense mental or physical strain, emotion or activity. When you pray, really pour out your heart before the throne of grace! Be filled with zeal, motivated with spiritual energy and alertness.
Energetic, heartfelt prayers are well-pleasing to God. When you wholeheartedly call on God, you can expect real answers to your prayers. Why? Because God is wholehearted, and that type of prayer is helping you to become more like Him!
The Amplified Bible renders James 5:16: “The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available—dynamic in its working.” The Living Bible describes it: “The earnest prayer of a righteous man has great power and wonderful results.” God will answer!
God inspired Joel to instruct us how to escape and find protection. Does He say we should go through some routine motions, repeat by rote some prayer already written for us, which we recite without feeling or emotion? No, never! Here is what He says: “Therefore also now, saith the Lord, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness …. Yea, the Lord will answer …” (Joel 2:12-19).
God says we should turn to Him in dead earnest—fasting, rending our hearts—in deepest real feeling. This is no thoughtless giving way to uncontrolled emotion. This is full mental realization of purpose—of need—and, with deepest intense feeling, seeking God with all our strength and might.
In correcting Israel for their manner of indifferent prayers, God says of Israel: “They never put their heart into their prayers” (Hosea 7:14; Moffatt translation).
Look at some of the sample prayers quoted for us as examples in the Bible. Notice David’s prayer of repentance, when he came to himself after his sin of adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband. It is in the 51st Psalm. Notice how David, in dead earnest, put his whole heart into this prayer—with deep feeling of remorse and repentance. … Notice Daniel’s prayers. He was in intense, dead earnest. His was no light, casual, routine prayer. He put his whole heart into it. … (Daniel 9:3-19).
Can you imagine these men of God praying in this manner dry eyed? I can’t. Surely tears were streaming down their faces. These were intense prayers—prayers of surrendered, yielded men to the great God!
God has graciously granted, by astonishing miracles, many answers to my prayers. But never have I received an answer from God except when I prayed earnestly from the heart. I have never known of a real answer coming from God of a casual, routine prayer. Yet do not most people pray casually, perhaps as a matter of duty, and without feeling or emotion? Perhaps this makes plain the reason most people have never received an answer to their prayers.
—Herbert W. Armstrong, Plain Truth, August 1978
The Bible records excellent examples of fervent prayer. Hezekiah “prayed and cried”—figuratively crying out, and at times literallycrying (2 Chronicles 32:20). “[Y]e people, pour out your heart before him,” says Psalm 62:8.
Follow Christ’s example, who prayed “with strong crying and tears” to His Father, upon whom He depended for His very life! (Hebrews 5:7). When Jesus prayed to the Father, He meant it. He was deeply moved on many occasions when He communed with God. His prayers had deep meaning. He felt them.
Before His crucifixion, Jesus was in agony when He prayed (Luke 22:44). He wrestled in prayer—determined to know He was both heard of and empowered by His Father. Pondering the tremendous responsibility that was placed on His shoulders, He threw His whole being into this prayer. What a powerful miracle that most fervent of prayers accomplished! Thanks in part to the fervency of Christ, mankind can now enter the God Family!
6. Be Persistent
Some people, if God does not 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 does not promise to answer right away. God does not tell us exactly how or precisely when the answer will come.
This is why Jesus gave the parable of the persistent widow in Luke 18:1-8: “to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint.” The New International Version correctly renders the final phrase as “not give up”! In this parable, an unrighteous judge finally heard the pleas of a widow who kept coming to him. God is far more attentive and responsive than this judge. The parable concludes: “And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily” (verses 7-8). We should keep praying to God, even though He sometimes doesn’t answer right away.
That raises the question, though: Why would God make us wait for an answer to our prayer? James gives us this answer: “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; see also Hebrews 10:36). God wants us to learn to persevere in prayer and to wait on Him. By praying faithfully and steadfastly about problems or needs until God definitely answers one way or another, we build perseverance and faith (1 Corinthians 15:58).
If you don’t receive an answer right away, do not give up. Don’t lose faith. 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 God. He has supreme wisdom to know when and how to best answer your prayers. Occasionally remind God about your problems or afflictions; don’tcease 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. But sometimes He does make us wait in order to build our patience and to test our faith. Persistence shows and builds your trust in God.
7. Use Christ’s Name
The last condition of answered prayer is the correct use of Christ’s name.
Remember, Christ instructed us to pray to God the Father in His name (John 16:23). The Father placed Jesus Christ in the role of our High Priest (Hebrews 5:5). With Christ thus interceding for us, the Father accepts our sincere offerings in the name of His holy Son. The Father accepts us by His merits. As the Apostle Peter wrote, our spiritual sacrifices are “acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5).
These verses give us the privilege of employing Christ’s name—asking by His authority—when we pray to the Father. God wants us to understand that there is a government structure in this Family: Father, Son, Husband, wife. This is reinforced every time we pray: Our prayers go through our spiritual Husband, Christ.
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. We must study the Bible to know more about the principles of Christ’s will, so we may ask by His authority.
Realize too that Christ’s labors are not complete once He intercedes. He then answers those prayers! Yes, Christ did say that the Father answers, but He also said He does so Himself: “If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it” (John 14:14). There is no contradiction between these verses: Christ is the channel through whom the Father works. Christ performs the will of the Father in answering our prayers. God answers them through Christ.
Keys to Receiving Answers!
Think about these keys in terms of your Father trying to use your prayers to build His relationship with you and prepare you for life in His eternal Family. As you pray each day, He is making fine-tuned decisions about how much power to deploy in fulfilling your requests—based on whether your prayers are really fulfilling that purpose. Before He answers you, do you need to learn to trust Him more? Is He looking for more passion, emotion, fervor—for you to put more heart into your communication with Him?
Though God uses this as a tool to develop various aspects of your character, He does not force you to do anything. You must choose to rely on Him—to learn His will, obey Him, walk by faith, humble yourself, recognize your weaknesses, and depend on Him. As you do, your prayers will accomplish miraculous changes in your life.
Realize: There is not a preset, established level of faith or obedience or fervor required to receive answers. In fact, God always wants more of all these things from you! What He expects of you before He answers today may be more than He required of you last year, last month, last week. This is because the true standard is perfection. Whatever level you are at in these areas is a step toward perfection, which is ultimately where God wants you.
What a marvelous tool your prayers are for God to draw you closer to Him and to prepare you for life in His eternal Family! So pray to God every day—continually, regularly, fervently—and expect God to answer!