Communication is vital for any successful relationship. Prayer acts as our avenue to communicate with our Heavenly Father. As in any forum, communication through prayer follows a specific process.
Check out this communication flow chart. The petitioner is the sender and the Lord is the receiver. Encoding involves us speaking the words (or thinking them) and then the decoding on the other side of the message is done by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:26-27).
Breakdown in communication happens in the middle. Noise from outside sources interrupts the ability of the sender or receiver to effectively communicate the intended message.
In prayer, the noise only affects us. Our unchanging God waits patiently to hear all of our messages. Many things can interfere with our prayer life and since God wants to enjoy a relationship with us above all else, He specifies in His Word the sources of “noise.”
- Unbelief: In Mark 11:24, Jesus promises that when we pray we must believe we will receive and then we “shall have them.” On the flipside of this logic, if we aren’t having our prayers answers, we might lack faith in God. Believe he hears and believe he will answer.
- No authority: I’m one of those who always ends my prayer with “In Jesus’ name,” but that’s not what John 14:13 is talking about. “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do.” It refers to the authority of Jesus. We must come in prayer through the authority of our mediator, Jesus Christ.
- Selfishness: The second part of John 14:13 says: “that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” Only things that glorify God can be requested by the authority of Jesus’ name. A request for healing can glorify God. A request for a new Lexus? Not so much.
- Disobedience: “Whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight” (1 John 3:22).
- Willfulness: In the garden, Jesus prayed for His Father’s will to be done. That is our template. If we want God to hear us, our requests must be “according to his will” (1John 5:13).
The responsibility to keep the noise from interfering with our prayer life rests on our shoulders. Freewill guarantees us the right to ask selfishly, willfully and without proper authority. God, however, makes no promise to even hear such prayers.
When we pray in faith with a clean heart, our prayer pleases our Savior and he answers our petitions.
Next week: Prayer: Promise of an Answer