What Must I Say or Do for God to Hear My Prayers?

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What Must I Say or Do for God to Hear My Prayers?

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What Must I Say or Do for God to Hear My Prayers?

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God has the ability to hear all prayers but obviously does not grant all requests made in prayer. What if two people entered into a contest and both prayed for victory—they both can’t be given what they want. So God must decide when to act and when not to act.

Let’s ask the question a slightly different way

Is there anything I can do, or must do to get God to grant my requests? For Him to rescue or assist me in times of distress, or get Him to use His awesome power to help me accomplish my goals?

We are instructed to pray constantly, to keep hanging in there, and to expect an answer.

There is no set formula for prayer that would obligate God to grant a request. If that were true then God would be more like a magic genie in a lamp. We cannot control or manipulate God through any words, actions or rituals. He chooses to answer, or not, as He pleases. We are specifically told not to pray like this (Matthew 6:7-8 Matthew 6:7-8 7 But when you pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. 8 Be not you therefore like to them: for your Father knows what things you have need of, before you ask him.
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).

How do our actions and attitudes influence God’s decision to grant a request made through prayer?

On the negative side, indifference or disobedience to His commands, violence, dishonesty, pride, and injustice create a separation between us and our Creator. God does not give attention to the prayers of people who act and think like that. He may act in mercy towards them to get their attention and lead them towards meaningful change, but He acts as He pleases (Isaiah 59:1-2 Isaiah 59:1-2 1 Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: 2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.
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On the positive side, taking His commands seriously and trying to live by them, seeking peace, and having honesty, humility, personal integrity, generosity and fairness—these please our Creator and draw us closer to Him. God will give careful attention to the prayers and requests of such people. He will consider our requests and choose to act, or not act, according to what is good for us (1 Peter 3:12 1 Peter 3:12For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.
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).

Our Father knows what is best for us

The good that God desires for us is to learn to think and act like Jesus Christ and receive the gift of everlasting life. The path to that good involves suffering and perseverance, just as it did for Jesus Christ.

Consider how Jesus prayed the night before His execution. He prayed that God the Father not require Him to endure the painful suffering and death that lay only hours ahead of Him. The request was not granted. Jesus’ long session of prayer that last night ended with His submission to the will of the Father (Matthew 26:39-44 Matthew 26:39-44 39 And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as you will. 40 And he comes to the disciples, and finds them asleep, and said to Peter, What, could you not watch with me one hour? 41 Watch and pray, that you enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. 42 He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, your will be done. 43 And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy. 44 And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.
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). Jesus’ suffering was the only path to the greater goal: God’s desire that many children receive eternal life.

In the same manner, our sessions of prayer and our requests are often the way in which we get our thoughts, attitudes and goals in sync with the thoughts, attitudes and priorities of our Creator.

How to pray

We might pray for release from pain, sickness or suffering, or we might pray for specific blessings, and our Father is happy to give us these good things. But if granting a certain request actually held us back from achieving our full potential as an eternal child of God, would it be good for us? We must have confidence that God knows the difference between the two and can make a better decision than we alone can.

We must not give up prayer thinking we are powerless to influence events. We are instructed to pray constantly, to keep hanging in there, and to expect an answer (1 John 5:14 1 John 5:14And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he hears us:
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).

We should pray completely convinced and confident that God hears our prayer and is fully capable of answering our every request (Hebrews 11:6 Hebrews 11:6But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
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). We should also pray with a humble attitude, understanding that what we think is best for us may not be the way to achieve the greater goal our Creator has in mind for us: growing in spiritual completeness after the pattern of Jesus Christ, and to receive the gift of everlasting life.