Summary: How to pray, and expect an answer.
Rev. John W. Gerald
One of the greatest hindrances to answered prayer is lack of faith, and since faith is difficult to fully understand, and its laws so complex, few people really know how to pray in faith. Ones own ethnic background may produce tremendous obstacles to praying in faith. 1.) One of the reasons that I am interested in this subject is that I have observed that we have been conditioned by inference from our normal and traditional habits of worship and living to doubt that God will do certain things in answer to prayer. We have not been generally taught by precept or example to expect great things in answer to prayer. We tend to pass on the same mental attitudes to succeeding generations. I want to change this in my case, and to influence all that I can to seek and to find the proper basis for praying expectantly.
2.) Besides the uncertainty about God’s will in a matter, there can also be the uncertainty about whether God will, or does, answer a particular prayer. One may believe that God is able, but may not know whether God is concerned enough about such a matter, or will bother himself to answer such a request. Many prayers for health and healing are offered half heartedly in practical unbelief because we are not convinced of God’s concern for such matters, since knowing God’s will for each case seems to be required, and determining His will may seem difficult, if not impossible. To pray expectantly, one must be convinced not only of God’s ability, but also of His willingness to answer his prayers, no matter how large or how small the requests may be. "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him"? Matt. 7:11.
"Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean! ... I will, be thou clean". Matt. 8:2-3.
3.) One of Satan’s devices for hindering expectant prayer is to whisper in our ears that it is foolish to claim something we can neither see nor feel, and of which there is no physical evidence. He says that we are claiming a lie because the answer has not materialized. But God said that "What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that receive them, and ye shall have them". Mark 11:24.
Our faith so often depends upon immediate responses, so that, whatever is long in coming, we tend to cease to expect. Our minds are so conditioned to physical evidences, that the validity of the long-awaited promise is questioned. We tend to have great difficulty believing that we have something that we cannot see, or otherwise is not physically evident. It is too easy to fall prey to Satan’s temptations to rely upon the physical senses. We accept the fact that we have citizenship without any physical evidence, or that we are forgiven when we ask a friend and he says that he forgives, but we seem to have difficulty transferring the same confidence to the promises of God when physical evidence is lacking.
4.) A fourth problem in praying expectantly is that one may not be sure that he can really pray in Jesus’ name. The concept is not fully understood, or, if it is, there could be other problems, such as sin unconfessed or unforgiven. When one’s relationship to God is beclouded with doubtful things which he allows, or uncharitable attitudes, or neglect of certain Christian duties, such as tithing, praying and reading God’s word, and faithfully worshipping and serving God as He has commanded, then effective prayer is hindered. One may not come to God in Jesus’ name with consciousness of sin unconfessed and unforgiven. He may not really come to God in Jesus’ name improperly motivated either. Praying for some selfish or carnal motive cannot be done in Jesus’ name, for all of his prayers were completely unselfish. When Jesus prayed for himself, it was always contingent upon God’s will in the matter. If we pray properly in Jesus’ name, our prayers should have the same spirit and motive that his had, which was to bring honor and glory to the Father through the Son. Improper motive hinders effective expectant prayer. Satan is adept in deception. He will suggest to us that we do not really have the authority to speak to God in Jesus’ name, or if we do it, it is simply a form which has no meaning, it is glibly done without comprehending its vale and power. We must sense our position in Christ to be effective in prayer. "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you". John 15:7