The Bible says, “...yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts,” (James 4:2c-3).
Prayer is a vital part of the Christian’s life. It’s being conversant with God and communicating with Him. Prayer is a way for the Christian to voice their concerns, burdens, needs, desires, seek guidance, seek forgiveness, and ask for grace in times of need.
God reveals Himself as a Person with personality so that we can know Him personally and have a personal relationship with Him through His Son Jesus Christ.
Through hearing and doing God’s will as revealed and communicated to us in the Bible (KJV), and prayer, through which we communicate our will to God the Father we maintain an open, honest, and personal relationship with Him.
Our prayer can be in the form of petition, intercession, confession, supplication, thanksgiving, or adoration. In order to have a successful, and effective prayer life (James 5:16) we must meet the conditions for such as given to us in Scripture.
One of the conditions for answered prayer is, obedience to God’s Word (KJV). “He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination,” (Proverbs 28:9) (cf. Proverbs 15:8). Hearkening to and obeying God is one way we show we trust Him and are acknowledging His Lordship in our life. But if we will not hear and do His Word He will not hear us when we pray (Proverbs 1:24-28).
Another condition for answered prayer is having a conscience that is clear and doesn’t condemn us of sin. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me,” (Psalms 66:18). Known, unconfessed sin robs us of faith when we make our petitions to God. Faith must first be exercised to ask God for forgiveness then we’ll have faith to pray about other things (cf. Proverbs 28:13).
Another condition is that our prayers must not be prayers in which satisfying our selfish lust is our motive for praying. “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts,” (James 4:3). When a Christian asks God for things to satisfy their sinful nature, their lusts and covetousness, then they have an unbiblical perception of God. God said He would supply our needs, not our wants. Especially when giving us those things we ask for would make us more backslidden.
Faith is what we need as another condition for answered prayer. “And all things, whatsoever ye ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive,” (Matthew 21:22). James tells us when asking for wisdom we should exercise faith and not waver in our faith. For if we do waver, then we should not even so much as “think that he (we) shall receive anything of the Lord,” (James 1:5-7).
Faith is the key to living for God and having an effective prayer life (Romans 1:17, 14:23; Hebrews 11:1, 6). But our faith is replaced with doubt and we cannot have an effective prayer life, when we do not meet the conditions and follow the guide lines God has put in place for us to follow.
James H. Cagle lives in Ray City, Ga., and is a former Hamilton County resident.