7 Keys to Answered Prayer

One of the most asked questions is “If there is a God, why doesn’t He answer my prayers?”

You may be surprised to find out that there are conditions to having a prayer heard by God – ALL of which must be followed

1. Ask

The most basic of components and yet a necessity

Matthew 7:7 Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
Matthew 7:8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

This is a prerequisite. It is the beginning of the process.  It won’t go any further if we do not start off with this first step.

James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

Ephesians 3:20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,

We can even do it on behalf of others

Intercessory Prayer

1 John 5:16 If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that.

1 John 5:15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

2. According to His Will

1 John 5:14 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.
1 John 5:15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

We can be sure that our prayers have already been answered.

Now what we have to also keep in mind is that the answer may by “no” or “not yet”.

But, IF we ask in accordance with His will, He will hear and answer us..  This only makes sense. We cannot ask against the perfect will of God.  He has a plan and a way that He is going about it.  We must ask in alignment with it.

James 4:2 You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask.
James 4:3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.

We don’t receive what we ask if:

  • our motivation is wrong
  • it is not what we really need
  • it is not what is most important to God

God thinks long term!

James 4:8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
James 4:7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

We are to move towards God: being like Him and thinking like Him.

With that in mind let’s read:

Matthew 6:5 “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.
Matthew 6:6 But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
Matthew 6:7 And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.
Matthew 6:8 “Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.

So why ask, if God already knows…what’s the point? Why is God telling us to ask…to talk to Him? What can we learn from this if what we are about to ask is not a revelation to God?

He wants us to realize this. God already knows what you want and need.  He wants us to practice lining up our thoughts with His. Our job is not to force God to see things our way…it’s the opposite!

We are to learn to see things God’s way and ask in accordance with His will. We learn to view things the way that He does. Through this process we learn to be more like Him.

We have to Know God’s Will

This was Jesus’ approach

John 5:30 I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.

He is, was and will be in perfect harmony with the will of God the Father.

We are to follow Christ’s example in this:

Ephesians 5:15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise,
Ephesians 5:16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
Ephesians 5:17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

How do we do this? The simple straightforward answer can be found:

2 Timothy 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Study the word of God so that we can get in line with His will

3. Ask in Faith (without doubting)

James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
James 1:6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.
James 1:7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;

With no doubting!

Matthew 21:18 Now in the morning, as He returned to the city, He was hungry.
Matthew 21:19 And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, “Let no fruit grow on you ever again.” Immediately [forthwith; presently] the fig tree withered away.
Matthew 21:20 And when the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither away so soon?”
Matthew 21:21 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done.
Matthew 21:22 And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing [not doubting], you will receive.”

In the parallel verses in Mark we see that the effects of Christ’s prayer did not actually happen right away.

Mark 11:19 When evening had come, He went out of the city.
Mark 11:20 Now in the morning
[another day had passed], as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots.
Mark 11:21 And Peter, remembering, said to Him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree which You cursed has withered away.”
Mark 11:22 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God.
Mark 11:23 For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.
Mar 11:24 Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.

When we realize that this was Jesus doing this and the effect of it was not “immediately” in the sense that we use it, we see that even though it did not happen right away, there was no doubt.

The point is: we can not become doubtful about what we ask in prayer.  Do we think Jesus was ever doubtful about the outcome of any of His prayers.

Are we doubtful? or do we truly believe in God and His word and His promises?

Are we stalwart and firmly convicted like Abraham was?

Romans 4:20 He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God,
Romans 4:21 and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.

There is help for unbelief

There is something that we can do if we feel that we are coming up short in this area

Mark 9:23 Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”
Mark 9:24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

When we see the word believe like this, we should think faith as well. This word is a root of the word faithBelief is translated from the same word as faith.  The issue is that we do not have a good derivation of faith that we can use as a verb. So we say believe for the verb form of the noun faith

We can ask for MORE faith

We can pray for more belief than we already have.

Luke 17:5 And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.”
Luke 17:6 So the Lord said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

This was a symbol that they were quite familiar with and one that Jesus had used in the past. They realized, as we need to as well, that our faith has a lot of room to grow.

Which one of us can:

  • curse a tree
  • heal the demon-possessed
  • walk on water
  • move a mountain into the sea…by simply saying the words

Faith is an integral part of our walk as a Christian … and specifically as a necessary aspect of prayer!

Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God [in prayer for example] must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Asking in faith is crucial and necessary component of God answering our prayers.

4. We Must Keep God’s Commandments – What?!?

We must obey Him

1 John 3:21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God.
1 John 3:22 And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.

Proverbs 15:29 The LORD is far from the wicked, But He hears the prayer of the righteous.

Psalm 119:172 My tongue shall speak of Your word, For all Your commandments are righteousness.

James 5:16 Confess your trespasses [be reconciled] to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

So not only does God hear the righteous — it counts for a lot.

Naturally, Jesus used this formula

John 11:41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me.
John 11:42 And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.”

How did Jesus Christ know this to be the case…because:

John 8:29 And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.”

The love of God was in Him as defined by keeping the commandments

John 15:10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.

John 15:7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.


5. Confess, Repent and Be Forgiven

This goes hand in hand with the previous point….all the points go hand in hand.

Isaiah 59:1 Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear.
Isaiah 59:2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.

Sin is defined in 1 John 3:4 as breaking the law of God…which we just showed was necessary.  When we transgress we become a sinner.

John 9:31 Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him.

How then do we ever get God’s attention if we are sinners?

One of the ways is by obtaining forgiveness through confessing our our sins to God and repenting so that our sins will no longer stand in the way.

Matthew 6:12 And forgive us our debts, 

This removes our sin and the penalty for it so that we can go before God with a clean slate…not as sinners.

Forgive others

Matthew 6:12 As we forgive our debtors.

Prerequisite to being forgiven…we must be forgiving of others

Matthew 6:14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
Matthew 6:15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Matthew 5:21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘YOU SHALL NOT MURDER, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’
Matthew 5:22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.
Matthew 5:23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you,
Matthew 5:24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

6. Bear Fruit

How do we/God know that we are keeping the law of God? This is how!

John 15:16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.

What fruit?

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit [not fruits-we should have all these if we have the Holy Spirit] of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
Galatians 5:23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

God wants us to not only know and keep His laws but He wants to continue to grow in them by showing fruit and increasing the talents that He has given us

7. Ask in Christ’s Name

John 15:16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.

John 16:23 “And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.
John 16:24 Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

In the name of means: in the power and authority of…

Acts 3:1 Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour.
Acts 3:2 And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple;
Acts 3:3 who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms.
Acts 3:4 And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, “Look at us.”
Acts 3:5 So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them.
Acts 3:6 Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”
Acts 3:7 And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.
Acts 3:8 So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God.

Acts 3:12 So when Peter saw it, he responded to the people: “Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?

Acts 3:16 And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.

Acts 4:7 And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, “By what power or by what name have you done this?”
Acts 4:8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel:
Acts 4:9 If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well,
Acts 4:10 let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him [literally this is what we are asking by His name] this man stands here before you whole.

EXAMPLE: As an Ambassador goes to a foreign country, he goes in the name of the country he is from. As a representative he only has the power and authority that has been given to him and nothing more.

John 14:13 And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
John 14:14 If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.
John 14:15 “If you love Me, keep My commandments.
John 14:16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—
John 14:17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.

John 14:26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, which the Father will send in My name, it will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.

We see that “in the name of Christ” is not a magical formula but represents the power and authority by which we can come before the Father.