CALL UNTO ME, and I WILL ANSWER THEE, and SHOW THEE
great and mighty things, WHICH THOU KNOWEST NOT.
It is evident from this scripture and many others that God desires to answer our prayers, and reveal to us things when we pray. However, many of God's dear people are desperate to receive answers to prayer and are not receiving them. Well, the Bible has much to say concerning answered prayer. In this teaching, we are going to explore keys to answered prayer.
The first key to answered prayer I want to deal with is knowing the will of God. If you as a Christian do not know what the will of God is, you won't get very far in prayer at all. As a matter of fact, your prayers simply will not be answered. I can hear someone saying right now "Well, that sounds pretty judgmental!" I know it. That's because you don't know what the will of God has to say about that. So let's begin with a classic Scripture on this subject.
14 Now this is the CONFIDENCE that we have in Him, that if we ASK anything
ACCORDING TO HIS WILL, HE HEARS US.
15 And if we KNOW that He hears us, WHATEVER WE ASK, WE KNOW THAT
WE HAVE THE PETITIONS THAT WE HAVE ASKED OF HIM. - 1 John 5:14-15 (NKJV)
These two verses explain a major reason why folk in the Body of Christ are not getting their prayers answered. It's because they are not praying according to the will of God. And the reason they are not praying according to the will of God is because they don't know what the will of God is. There are many Christians, including preachers, that think you cannot fully know the will of God. Unfortunately, that's wrong thinking which comes from something unscriptural that they heard. The truth is God does not want you to be ignorant of any of His will!
How does one come to know the will of God? Knowing the will of God comes by knowing His Word. In other words, if a Father tells his son to throw out the garbage, he has just released his will to that child with his words. Well, God releases His will in the same manner - through His words. Therefore, where are we going to find His words? Exactly! In the Bible. The Bible is God's Word and everything you ever wanted to know about the will of God is in His Word (John 17:17 / John 7:17).
In 1 John 5:14 it says "...this is the CONFIDENCE that we have in him...if we ASK anything ACCORDING TO HIS WILL, HE HEARETH US..." If you don't know it by now, the word "ask" is a reference to prayer. When you know what the will of God is about a situation, the Bible says you'll have the confidence you need to believe God will answer prayer regarding anything that you ask for. Why? Faith begins where the will of God is known. You can not pray in faith about something you don't know is the will of God. Christians that don't know it is the will of God for them to be healed of sickness and disease usually pray unscriptural things like "If it be thy will". Although that statement is in the Bible, it is usually taken out of context to mean something other what it is supposed to mean. The Bible is chock full of Scriptures regarding the Lord's will to heal us. How can a Christian even make a statement like that? Simply because they are ignorant of God's will concerning the fact that healing is a part of their inheritance (Matthew 15:22-28 / Luke 13:10-17).
The "cessasionists" will tell you that God doesn't heal anymore and that miracles were done away after all the apostles died. No, my friend, the Bible says in 1 Peter 1:4 that we have "...an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled...THAT FADETH NOT AWAY..." It's high time we put a garbage can lid on top of that religious junk! It's about as wore out as an old car tire. You know it, I know it, and the devil knows it! You might as well say amen, glory to God, it's all so any how!
The next key to answered prayer I want to look at is you must pray in faith. There are nine different kinds of prayer in the Bible, but all of them must be prayed in faith if they are to work. Remember: Faith is the Master Key. Notice what the Bible says in Mark's gospel:
Therefore I say unto you, What THINGS soever ye DESIRE, when ye
PRAY,BELIEVE that ye RECEIVE them, and YE SHALL HAVE THEM.
Notice that Jesus said whatever things you desire. It's critical that you understand Jesus was talking about asking according to God's will when he said whatever things you desire. As long as you are praying for things according to the will of God, you can ask for whatever you will and it will be done for you by the Father. Why? Simply because your will (desire) is lined up with His will (Matthew 6:33 / John 15:7). Therefore, whatever you desire is what He desires.
Jesus goes on to say "...when ye pray, BELIEVE that ye RECEIVE them, and YE SHALL HAVE THEM." We must believe we receive when we ask! In Luke chapter eleven, the disciples had come to Jesus asking Him to teach them how to pray. Jesus then begins to share with them principles of prayer, followed by a parable of prayer. After He finishes giving them the principles and the parable, he begins to expound on the parable by emphasizing the need to pray in faith. In verses nine and ten Jesus says:
9 And I say unto you, Ask, AND IT SHALL BE GIVEN YOU; seek,
AND YE SHALL FIND; knock, and IT SHALL BE OPENED UNTO YOU.
10 FOR EVERY ONE THAT ASKETH RECEIVETH... - Luke 11:9-10
Jesus said in verse nine when you ask it shall be given to you, when you seek you will find, and when you knock the door will be opened for you. Then He says in verse ten that EVERYONE THAT ASKS RECEIVES! Now this is Jesus Himself that said this, therefore, it must be true right? Well, why is it that we know a lot of people who are asking and not receiving? There's a condition that must be met in order for that to happen. Notice:
5 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.
6 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.
7 FOR LET NOT THAT MAN THINK THAT HE SHALL RECEIVE ANYTHING
OF THE LORD. - James 1:5-7
Interestingly enough, verse five sounds just like Luke 11:10. However, verse six gives us the condition that must be met in order for that to happen - BUT LET HIM ASK IN FAITH! The Bible tells us why in verse seven. It says "For let not THAT MAN think that he shall receive ANYTHING OF THE LORD." If God were to bless you with anything apart from using your faith for it, He would be violating His Word. He designed His kingdom to operate that way. Hebrews 11:1 says "Faith is the substance of things hoped for..." In this verse, faith represents reality, and hope represents your desire. Therefore, the reason you need faith to receive answers to prayer is because "hope is the desire of your reality".
The third key to receiving answered prayer is understanding and walking in your righteousness. Notice what the Bible says in 1 Corinthians 15:34 "AWAKE TO RIGHTEOUSNESS, and sin not; for some have not THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD: I speak this to YOUR SHAME." It's really sad how many Christians are not prospering in their prayer life, much less their relationship with God because of sin consciousness. Satan is constantly bombarding their minds with thoughts of guilt and condemnation (as he does with all of us), so they never really feel like they measure up to God's standard. There are two Scriptures in the Bible that are vitally important to know. They are:
My people are DESTROYED for a LACK OF KNOWLEDGE...
seeing thou hast forgotten THE LAW OF THY GOD...
Lest Satan should get an ADVANTAGE OF US:
for we are not IGNORANT OF HIS DEVICES.
We see in these two verses of Scripture that you can be destroyed by a lack of knowledge of God's Word, and a lack of knowledge of Satan's devices. If you lack knowledge of God's Word concerning your righteousness in Christ Jesus, you're always going to be walking in condemnation and guilt. The end result of that is that you will be immobilized from serving God faithfully. The devil will see to it. On the other hand, if you are ignorant of Satan's devices (schemes, tactics, modus operandi), you will lack knowledge of how he operates and he will take advantage of you.
One of Satan's most deceptive tricks is to keep you ignorant of your righteousness as a child of God. This way, he is able to attack your heart with condemnation and guilt without you defending yourself. However, if you know that Satan is the accuser of the brethren day and night (Revelation 12:10), you won't allow yourself to be bullied by him. You will know that you can overcome him by the blood of the Lamb and the Word of your testimony (Revelation 12:11). How do you overcome Satan by the blood of the Lamb? It's the blood of the Lamb (Jesus) that has cleansed you of all your sin and unrighteousness. Therefore, you are forgiven and stand before God as though you've never sinned! When you know that you can confess that you are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, that's the word of your testimony! This is how God wants you to approach His throne every time you pray - without shame! (Hebrews 4:14-16)
You have to make sure that you put on the whole armor of God before you pray; that includes the breastplate of righteousness! (Ephesians 6:10-18) You see, my friend, the breastplate of righteousness is suppose to guard your heart from guilt and condemnation of the devil. You may ask "Well, how do I put on something I cannot see?" By faith! Remember, we release our faith by our confession (Romans 10:10). Why is the confession of our faith so critically important? Because faith comes by hearing the Word of God. Every time you speak the Word of God, you are receiving faith to believe whatever it is you are confessing. For years, the Church has majored on confessing sin. It's time to turn that around and focus on confessing your righteousness so that you can walk in the light of it! Glory be to God, forevermore!
Finally, the fourth key to receiving answered prayer is thanksgiving. There are two very important reasons for that. Number one, when you give God thanks for answering your prayers, you are expressing a heart of gratitude to Him. I can tell you right now, that's big on God's radar! Notice a very beautiful story in Luke chapter seventeen:
11 And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.
12 And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:
13 And THEY LIFTED UP THEIR VOICES, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.
14 And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, THEY WERE CLEANSED.
15 And one of them, when he saw that he was HEALED, turned back, and with a loud voice GLORIFIED GOD,
16 And fell down on his face at his feet, GIVING HIM THANKS: and he was a Samaritan.
17 And Jesus answering said, WERE THERE NOT TEN CLEANSED? BUT WHERE ARE THE NINE?
18 THERE ARE NOT FOUND THAT RETURNED TO GIVE GLORY TO GOD, SAVE THIS STRANGER.
19 And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole. - Luke 17:11-18
The Bible says in verse thirteen that these ten lepers prayed for Jesus to heal them. Jesus instructed them to go and show themselves to the High Priest, as was the custom of that day according to Levitical law. The Bible goes on to say "...as they went, THEY WERE CLEANSED." However, only one of the lepers turned back when he saw that he was healed and stopped to give God thanks. My friend, what has God done for you recently? As a matter of fact, what has he done for you today? If God hasn't done much for you lately, you might want to check up on your thanksgiving! No, I'm not talking about the "holiday", I'm talking about your everyday life. I'm thoroughly convinced that this is a major reason for unanswered prayer. We must be cautious not to become unthankful in our relationship with God. If you allow yourself to become unthankful in your attitude towards God, it can result in developing a calloused heart.
The second reason why it's important to give thanks for answered prayer is because thanksgiving is an act of faith. When we give God thanks in advance for answered prayer, that's showing the Father that we believe we've received whatever we prayed about and that He's already done it. Psalm 52:9 says "I will praise thee for ever, BECAUSE THOU HAST DONE IT..." Why did the psalmist offer up praise to his God? He was convinced God had already answered his prayer. We ought to have the same spirit of faith knowing that God's Word never changes, and that what He said He would do will surely come to pass. C'mon shout amen somebody!
The second part of Psalms 52:9 says "...and I will wait on THY NAME; for it is GOOD before thy saints." The psalmist said that he was going to wait on "...THY NAME..." On whose name? God's name! Why? My friend, this is a very essential truth for you to understand. God's "name" in this verse speaks of the integrity of God. We know this because the verse goes on to say "...for it is GOOD before thy saints." The word "good" here is not just referring to the fact that God is a good God. It is even more so a revelation of His integrity. In other words, if you had really a good credit standing and you went to the bank to loan a certain amount of money, you would have no problem signing your name on the proverbial dotted line because your name is good. You've established a good reputation with the bank because you pay your bills on time, all the time, and you've never defaulted on a loan anywhere. You are considered a person of good character. Are you following me?
The Bible says in Psalm 138:2 "...thou hast magnified THY WORD above all THY NAME." Beloved, the reason God's name is good is because HIS WORD is good! I confess these words to myself every time I pray: "Thank You, Father, that your Word is forever settled in heaven. It never changes. It is the same yesterday, today, and forever." I do that because it reminds me that God is a God of integrity and that He will always answer prayer, so as long as I am praying according to His will (which is His Word). Let's get to the place in our prayer life where we are fully persuaded that what God promised He is able also to perform!
CONFESSION OF FAITH:
Heavenly Father, thank you that Your Word is forever settled in heaven. It never changes. It's the same yesterday, today, and forever. I thank You that what You promised, You are able also to perform. I know that You hear me when I pray, because I pray according to Your will, therefore I know that I have the petitions that I desire of You. I thank You in advance that You are the God who answers prayer and I believe that I receive today what I pray, in Jesus' name, amen.