What are the keys to receiving what I pray for?
The Word of God instructs us to pray for something according to God’s will until we get it. Matthew 7:7 says “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (NASB). In the Greek text, the verbs “ask,” “seek,” and “knock” are in the present tense, thus describe an ongoing action. “Keep asking, keep searching, keep knocking.” We are exhorted to practice persistent repetition of our requests, not a formulaic repetition of words, which Jesus condemned (Matthew 6:7–8).
Here are four major keys to receiving answers to prayer.
1. Abide in the Lord and His Word. John 15:7 records Jesus saying, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” And 1 John 3:22 states, “…we will receive from him whatever we ask because we obey him and do the things that please him.”
Jesus promised that if we live in close fellowship with Him and allow His Word to live in us and we obey it, we will see answered prayer. But if our hearts are distant or there is sin in our lives we cannot expect answers to prayer. Jesus also said “…apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Abiding in Him means knowing we are utterly dependent and must look to Him for every need.
2. Pray according to God’s Will. “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” (1 John 5:14).
How can we be sure we know the will of God?
God has revealed His will through His Word. Praying according to God’s will means knowing what truths or promises in Scripture apply to our situation and praying to receive the benefit of them. It’s His will to do what He’s promised or said He desires.
Additionally, although Jesus knew the will of God regarding His death, He prayed outside the will of God asking “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42). From this we learn we can humbly ask for things when we don’t know God’s will in a matter.
3. Believe, don’t doubt. “But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord” (James 1:6–7).
When we know God’s will as revealed in Scripture and believe what He has said and promised, we will receive our request.
Solid faith is not based on unstable and fluctuating feelings, emotions, or circumstances. It comes and grows as we grow in our knowledge of God and His Word and put our faith in Him (Romans 10:17).
True faith always believes God will do what He says. It does not claim that the Lord will give what He has not promised. Instead it trusts God has our best interests at heart when we ask for things that are lawful but not promised to us. In such cases, faith trusts that the Lord is good whether His answer is yes or no.
4. Persevere. Prayers may go unanswered because we give up praying before we receive an answer. Jesus taught us to “always pray and not give up” (Luke 18:1 NIV). As long as we have the promises in Scripture, we ought to be persistent, patient, and believing, no matter how long an answer takes. God has a “due season” (Galatians 6:9 KJV) when He will bring the answer to pass.
One could thoughtfully ask, “If God has a timetable, and will only answer my prayer when it’s His time, then why keep praying?” The answer is because God said persistent prayer is the means by which He will bring things to pass. This means our prayer is an important part of fulfilling God’s plans.
I hope this helps.