In prayer we show our total dependence on God who created all things and us and by Whom all things continue to exist. In prayer we give praise, honor, glory and reverence to His name for His greatness and goodness. We recognize Him as the source of all blessings. It is also the outpouring of our hearts desire. In Romans 10:1 the apostle Paul says, "Brethern, my hearts desire and prayer to God for Israel, is that they might be saved." Our prayer must come from our heart.
Prayer to God is only reserved for those who are obedient children of God. We are told in 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." There are people whose prayer God will not hear. Isaiah 59:2 says, "But you iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear." To allow anything to separate us from the fellowship of God, so that He will not hear our prayers is a very serious matter. It is a sad situation for those who try to pray to God if God will not hear them. But it is their own fault, because they are not obedient to God. They could be obedient if they wanted to be.
Then we read Proverbs 28:9; "One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination." God looks with disgust at the prayer of one who is not faithfully following His will. What a pitiful situation it is for us when our prayers become disgusting to God. Could anything be more hopeless? We also read in 1 Peter 3:12, "For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil." The Lord desires to hear the prayers of His faithful children and His eyes are watching out for them. What a great and wonderful blessing this is.
When we pray to God, we must be humble and not self-righteous. Our Lord gave a parable which illustrates this requirement very well. In Luke 18:9-14 we read, "Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank you that I am not like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess. And the tax collector, standing affar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." The attitude we have when we approach God in prayer and other worship is very important.
If we approach God with an attitude of showing great pride and arrogance in ourselves, but contempt and scorn for others, then God will despise this kind of prayer. Our prayers must be like the attitude of the tax collector. From what our Lord is trying to teach us here, when we approach our Creator in prayer we must be humble, not proud or self-assertive, but modest, unpretentious and our prayer must be from the heart. We are told in 1 Corinthians 14:15, "I will pray with the spirit and I will also pray with the understanding."
Our prayers should not be flowery and to impress other people, because God will not be impressed with such. Jesus says in Matthew 6:5, 7, "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 of men. Assuredly, I say they have their reward. 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." The only reward someone who prays a prayer like this receives is the recognition he receives from men because God will not heed his prayer. We are also warned not to use vain repetitions, such as repeating something over and over. This type of prayer makes us a hypocrite because it is pretentious.
Our prayers must be asked in faith. Concerning our prayers James 1:6-7 says, "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. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord." We must have faith in God and if we are faithful and obedient to Him then He will hear and answer our prayers, otherwise we will receive nothing. Jesus says in Mark 11:24, "Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them." So we must have faith if we expect God to answer our prayers.
Since Jesus is our advocate or go between with God, Jesus says in John 14:13, "And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son." Our requests to God must be in the name of or by the authority of Christ.
Another requirement of God answering our prayers is we must be forgiving of others. Jesus says in Mark 11:25-26, "And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses." How important it is to be forgiving of others? Could the Lord be any clearer as to what will happen to us if we are not forgiving? The Lord will not forgive us. We will be eternally lost. According to Isaiah 59:2, it is our sins that "separate us" from God so we cannot go to heaven. We must develop a forgiving attitude toward all people so that God will be forgiving of us so we can go to Heaven.
How we treat others can also affect the way God hears our prayers. In 1 Peter 3:7 we read, "Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered." Our prayers can be hindered by the way we treat our wife, husband, children, relatives, friends, acquaintances, or strangers.
We must pray regularly and not just when we are in trouble and need God. As 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, "Pray without ceasing." Also we are instructed in James 5:16, "The fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much." If we expect our prayer to be effective, it must be fervent and we must be righteous. In our prayers we must, with all earnest, show great feeling and intense devotion to God.
The things we ask must be in accordance with God’s will. 1 John 5:14 says, "If we ask anything according to His will, He hears us." Our requests to God must not contradict His will but must be in agreement with it. We should not ask for anything contrary to His will or for selfish things on our part. Our prayers must be "in spirit and in truth" if they are to be heard by God.