The Most Important Key to Answered Prayer
Jesus Christ taught that His followers would pray. Are your prayers heard by God? If you’re not sure if God hears your prayers, read this blog post!
Jesus Christ often linked together these words: when and pray.
The significance of these two words being used together shouldn’t be lost on us. Jesus’ point was that His followers would pray. That a Christian should and would pray was a given for Christ.
In religious circles, prayer is often thought of as something semimystical. Some think of prayer only occurring in a cathedral or as a memorized recitation. Others may think of it as just a trite word they use in a phrase like: “You’re in my thoughts and prayers.”
But, when the Bible talks about prayer, it is none of these things. True biblical prayer is communication with the God who created the universe!
The Bible gives a lot of instruction on the hows of prayer. For instance, prayer should be addressed to God the Father through the name of Jesus Christ (John 14:13-14; John 15:16). Life, Hope & Truth publishes many resources on how to pray.
Do you pray? If so, do you feel like your connection to God is strong and that your prayers are answered? Or do you never pray? Or are you just learning about true Christianity and seeking to start a relationship with God based on prayer?
Whatever situation you find yourself in, there is one key you must understand in order to have your prayers heard by God.
The key to answered prayer is revealed in a very straightforward statement by a man Jesus Christ had healed: “Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him” (John 9:31).
If we are living a life of sin—breaking God’s law—and are not seeking forgiveness and change, God will not hear our prayers because we have disconnected ourselves from Him.This man who had been born blind was essentially echoing what is revealed in Isaiah 59:2: “Your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.”
The statement is rather direct and clear: God does not hear the prayers of sinners.
But is that all there is to it?
If I sin, will God hear me?
Some read a statement like this and think God was raising the bar so high that He will not hear any prayer unless it’s made by someone who never sins (read: perfect). But is that true?
The Bible says that all human beings commit sin—nobody other than Jesus Christ can claim to be sin-free (Romans 3:23; 2 Corinthians 5:21). In fact, the Bible also says that anyone who claims to be sinless is a “liar” (1 John 1:10).
So, if the statement above was talking about any sin, none of us could pray and have any expectation of being heard by God.
The answer to this paradox is found in the book of 1 John. Notice what John writes: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Instead of proclaiming our own righteousness, God wants us to humbly acknowledge our sins to Him in prayer. Every time we stumble, we must go to God, confess that sin and ask Him for forgiveness.
But that’s not the end of the story! We must also strive to not commit that sin again—in other words, we must overcome sin. When looking at the big picture, that means a life of continual growth, improvement and change. In biblical terms, it means we must “keep His commandments” (1 John 2:3), live by “His word” (verse 5) and seek to imitate Jesus Christ’s example of living (verse 6).
To learn more about God’s way of life, download our free booklet God’s 10 Commandments: Still Relevant Today.
A simple illustration
Let’s use an analogy to demonstrate this. Imagine you’re my neighbor. But my idea of being “neighborly” is not taking care of my lawn. I let it become overgrown with weeds and trash so it attracts vermin to the neighborhood. When my leaves fall, instead of bagging and disposing of them, I simply blow them over into your yard for you to deal with. I play my music at the maximum volume all night. And to top it off, I yell at your kids whenever they come near my yard.
Now, would behaving like this cause you to want to talk to me? Would you naturally want to help me out if I asked you a favor?
No, in fact you would probably want to stay as far away from me as possible!
In the same way, God doesn’t want to hear our prayers when we show total disregard to His commandments (1 John 3:4; Psalm 119:172). All relationships are based on cause and effect—what we put into them is what we get out. This includes our relationship with our Creator!
Putting it all together
God meant exactly what He said in Isaiah 59:2: “Your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.” If we are living a life of sin—breaking God’s law—and are not seeking forgiveness and change, God will not hear our prayers because we have disconnected ourselves from Him by our lifestyles.
The good news is God wants to hear our prayers and has given keys to help us clearly communicate with Him through prayer. The first step is applying this all-important key: humbly asking God for forgiveness and vigorously striving to obey His law. Once we take this step and apply the many other principles of prayer found throughout the Bible, God will hear our prayers.
For more instruction on how to pray, request our free resource “How to Pray.”