"You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it." -Matthew 21:22
Prayer can be a really tricky thing if we aren't careful to have the right mindset and spirit when we pray. Someone recently asked me what to do when they feel like their prayers aren't being answered, and while I am no expert, I do have a little bit of knowledge in this area as I've spent some time reading up on trusting and hearing from God for myself. I struggle in this area every now and then, but the devotionals really help put things into perspective for me.
I made a list of the top 9 things that come up often in my studies, or better yet the top 9 things I retained and actually tried. For some prayers, I'm still waiting on the answers, but for others, I can honestly say I've seen them manifested because I followed these guidelines:
1. Make sure your conscience is clear. Forgive anyone who has wronged you.
Is there anyone that comes to mind who has disappointed or hurt you that you have yet to forgive? Well, now's the time. Let it GO. Right now. For your sake. It won't mean you have lost. You will gain so much peace when you do this. If you want God to answer your prayers...FORGIVE THEM. Once you forgive them, God will be sure to forgive you when you repent of your own sins, and He is always happy to hear your requests.
"But what if they have done the inexcusable to me?" I'm glad you asked. Forgive them anyway, because God has already forgiven the inexcusable in you. This doesn't mean you have to remain connected to them, but it does mean you no longer hold that grudge or hold their wrongdoing against them. Don't forget to forgive yourself, too.
"And when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too." -Mark 11:25
2. Redirect your focus to yourself, and ask God what He is trying change in YOU.
Take a moment to really think about what you're praying about. Is it for a situation to change? Is it for someone else to change? Are you hoping God will move mountains in everything or everyone BUT yourself? Can I let you in on a little secret? If you redirect your focus and prayers to YOURSELF and ways in which YOU can be changed or moved by God for His greater purpose, I guarantee you will see results. Many times God allows us to go through certain things because He is trying to change something in us. It's absolutely okay to pray for others' and their hearts, but don't forget about your own. Is there anything you've been putting off that you know you've needed to handle for a while? How is your lifestyle? Is there anything you can do differently that will change the entire trajectory of your situation? Is there anyone you need to apologize to and repent of a sin committed against them? Is God pleased with what you're doing with the time, talents, blessings, gifts, and temple that He gave you?? Get the training (read the Word), take the test (life experiences), and pass the test (shift your perspective and response)! Look INWARD and UPWARD.
Worry bout yo'self.
3. Accept His response. Trust His response.
Maybe the answer is yes. Maybe the answer is no. Maybe the answer is not right now. Maybe the answer is that you're "asking for the wrong thing or for the wrong reason or at the wrong time." Either way, accepting His response puts you in the best position because you know that His response will be one that has your absolute best interest at heart. TRUST GOD.
4. Release the very thing you are praying for to God.
You know the saying: "If you love something, set it free. If it is meant for you, it will be back. If it doesn't come back, it was never meant for you." This means releasing the urge to try to control or force the outcome of something on your own. If you are going to say you trust God and His will for your life, you should be willing to let it go to give God the reigns. What if it's NOT in His will? What if He doesn't want you to have it? Do you trust that He will provide everything you need, and sometimes even better than you hope for? Relax. He got this. He'll handle it.
"Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done." -Philippians 4:6