Prayer: Asking and receiving

Published 9:46 pm Friday, March 20, 2009

Prayer is much more than asking and receiving. It should include thanking God; praising God; and searching our thoughts, words, desires and actions as we confess our sins. It should be a time of renewed commitment to God. Prayer should be a time of waiting before God for him to speak to our hearts and minds and impress upon us about what He desires to do with us, for us and through us.

Yet, it is absolutely true that a great part of the teachings about prayer by our Lord Jesus and in the New Testament Letters focus on the “asking and receiving” part of prayer. We are taught that our God is the good Heavenly Father who desires to give good gifts to his children.

If we are in earnest about personally exploring further into the frontier of prayer, it will be practical for us to review the Bible requirements for answered prayer. So, the purpose of this article is to simply list the major requirements, with some Scripture references and a comment here and there. The requirements are not necessarily listed in order of importance.

First, we must ask. “You do not have because you do not ask” (James 4:2). Not asking is the most obvious reason for not experiencing answered prayer. God has gifts He desires to give us, for which we have never taken time to ask.

Second, we must ask with unselfish motives. “You ask but you do not receive because you ask with wrong motives, wanting what serves your own pleasures, passions and desires” (James 4:3).

Third, we must personally meditate in God’s Word for the purpose of obeying God. Jesus said, “If you abide in me and my words abide in you, (out of that relationship) ask whatever becomes your desire and it will be given you” (John 15:7). To “abide” means to remain, to continue or to live in. We abide in Christ by obedience to and dependence upon Jesus Christ and his Word.

Fourth, we must ask according to God’s will. “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have what we asked of him” (1 John 5:14-15). Sometimes we may ask for something that is not God’s will. For instance, Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane first asked the Father, “Take this cup from me.” It was only after asking for that which was not the will of God that Jesus could ask for the Cross which was the will of God for him.

Fifth, we must ask with diligent persistence, without giving up. “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up” (Luke 18:1). I list other references supporting this teaching along with an example: Luke18:1-7; Matthew 7:7; Luke 11:1-9 and Matthew 15:21-28 (example). Often a person may ask for a specific thing once or so and that is the extent of the petition. The Lord has a way of “pushing us away” as if he is not listening, testing us to see if we really are going to meet this requirement.

Sixth, we must ask with a clean and obedient heart. This means that we must confess all known sins (1 John 1:9) and present ourselves to do God’s will (Romans 12:1-2). Now, the assurance of God answering such a person or group is in the following references: 1 John 3:22; 1 Peter 3:12; James 5:16; 1 Timothy 2:8; 2 Chronicles 7:14 and Isaiah 59:1-2.

Seventh, we must ask in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “And I will do whatever you ask in My Name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in My Name, and I will do it” (John 14:13-14).

This means we come to the Father in unworthiness, but in Jesus’ name. God is not in debt to us and we deserve nothing: but, we come in Jesus Name, not our name. We come boldly. We come asking according to the character of Jesus and with such requests that the Father might be glorified and exalted in the Lord Jesus and in our lives. In His name we come humbly but boldly. It is a throne of grace to which we come asking. Other references: John 15:15-16 and 16:23-24.

Eighth, we must ask in faith (believing that God is able, we are trusting upon Him). Jesus said, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer” (Matthew 21:22). Also see Matthew 9:28, James1:5-6 and Hebrews 11:6.

Ninth, we may need to ask in an experience of fasting. “But this kind goes not out except by prayer and fasting” (Matthew 17:21). See Matthew 17:14-21 KJV; Acts 13:1-3; Matthew 4:2-4 and Luke 6:12.

Tenth, be willing to change your request when God’s answer is “No!” See 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 and Mark 14:35-36.

I suggest you cut this article out of the paper and join me in taking these 10 requirements on our knees before God in prayer over and over and experience answered prayer. Let’s go further in the frontier of prayer than we’ve gone before.

— Charles Christmas is a religion columnist for The Clanton Advertiser. His column appears each Saturday.