Ever feel like your prayers are just bouncing off the walls? Maybe you’ve been asking God for something – wisdom for a problem, resolution for a situation at work, or for a child to come back to the Lord – and it’s been several weeks or months and nothing’s changed.
You’ve even claimed the line in Mark 11:24 where it says, “Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” But still nothing.
Perhaps you’ve been thinking, this prayer approach isn’t working for me!
But these promises about “ask anything in His name,” “believe that you’ve received,” are given to a special classification of people. They’re not for everyone. They’re actually only for people who have met certain criteria.
God has certain conditions that need to be met in order for these promises to be true in your life.
So what are these conditions that God demands to be true in your heart and in mind?
There are three elements that are essential.
- Have a Clear Conscience. “This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.”(v. 19-20)
The context of this part of the passage is assurance. If you’re the kind of person who does nine things right and you’re down on yourself because there’s probably a tenth you missed, then this condition is for you.
The reason some of us struggle with praying is because we’re so down on ourselves. This feeling of guilt creates a wedge between us and our relationship with the Lord.
In response, the Apostle John, also known as the apostle of love, is saying, “This is how we can know that we belong to the truth: Look at the objective facts of your life. Look at the habitual practice of your life. And then, come to God with a clear conscience. Come to Him, knowing that you’re His child. Don’t be so down on yourself!”
- Lead an Obedient Lifestyle. “…and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him.”And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. (v. 22-23)
What does it mean to keep (obey) God’s commands and have an obedient lifestyle?
The first step is to ask Him to come into your life and forgive you.
The second step is to love one another. There ought to be a radical love for one another in the body of Christ. What does it mean to love? Love is seeing the needs of someone else and putting aside your wants and your desires. It’s extending your time, your energy, your resources, and even your life, if need be, to give to someone else.
- Have a Yearning Heart. “…we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him.” (v. 21-22)
This is a heart that longs to please God. God answers the prayers of those who do the things that are pleasing in His sight.
God wants us to have yearning hearts, not a rote, exterior, legalistic obedience. He doesn’t want us to do what’s right, and to say, “Okay, I don’t do this or that.” But instead, He wants us to have hearts that long to please Him. He wants our obedience to flow not out of duty and obligation, but out of a love relationship with Him.
To learn more about the precepts about prayer, and how to pray in an effective, powerful way, check out Chip’s series, The Power of Prayer.
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including "The Real God," "Culture Shock" and "The Real Heaven." Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip