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How can I get my prayers answered?


Through the Book of James the Bible gives us insight as to how we can receive an answer to our prayers. The writer lines out this teaching for the purpose of correcting believers who were fighting with each other having trouble receiving an answer from God when they prayed. Because Christians often quote only bits and pieces of this passage it has prevented many people from seeing the principle that James puts forth regarding how to get your prayers answered.  The text we will be primarily dealing with in this article is James 4:1-7.

v. 1-3 "What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures."

The first three things mentioned in the passage are:

1.) Fights and quarrels were happening among the believers.
2.) The strife was being caused by their selfish desires that battled within them.
3.) The selfish mentality was ultimately amounting to unanswered prayers and much frustration.

So God points out a crucial problem that was happening among them and then goes on to show it's direct connection to their failed prayers. In other words, the fact that these believers were allowing themselves to be guided by selfish desires was actually causing God not to answer their prayers. Hence he says, "when you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures."  Let's continue... 

v.4-6- "4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? 6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture say “God opposes the proud, but shows favor to the humble.”

A couple of key points in the part of the passage are:

1.) These believers were considered "adulterous" because they were exhibiting loyalty (friendship) to these value system of the world rather than to God. 
2.) Their loyalty to the value system of the world was leading to all of the ungodly behavior that God was pointing out.
3.) Because the world's value system is centered around pride, God was opposing them as they continued to act out of their selfish desires which is the pattern that the world follows. One indicator of God's opposition was unanswered prayer.

So here we find James beginning to put all of the pieces together for us. Loyalty to the value system of this world leads to ungodly behavior, ungodly behavior leads to prayers being prayed with the wrong motive, and prayers being prayed with the wrong motive leads to no answer from God. So what do we do?

v.7- "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."

The prescription that James gives to the believers is for them to stop submitting to the things of the world and submit to God instead. This involves a change of focus from your selfish desires to a relationship with Christ. It ultimately leads to a renewing of the mind.

Romans 12:1-2-"Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Paul reiterates in Romans 12 the process that James alluded to in James 4:

1.) Submit to God -- Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice
2.) Do not be loyal to the world -- Do not conform to the pattern of this world
3.) Pray with right motives according to God's will -- renew your mind and you will know what God's will is.

So ultimately through submitting to God and letting Him change our hearts and minds through His Word we are able to pray according to His will and see an answer to our prayers. Let me leave you with this beautiful scripture:

1 John 5:14-15- "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--whatever we ask--we know that we have what we asked of him."

To view my detailed video teaching of this topic click here: How to Get Your Prayers Answered

Written by: Kyle Bailey, M.Th.

For more inspirational content SUBSCRIBE to my YouTube channel.

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