(Note: These principles were adapted from a class I taught at church a few years ago.)
When it comes to prayer, it’s all about the “heart.” Here are three ways you can connect your heart to His when you pray…
1–SHARE your heart.
A common question when approaching prayer is: “What do I pray for?”
The amazing answer is: “Anything and Everything!”
But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! (John 15:7, NLT)
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, NLT)
He cares about it all! Come to Him as a little child, running to a strong and loving father. Just like that child, you can talk to your Father about whatever is on your heart…
O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge. (Psalm 62:8, NLT)
2–REFLECT His heart.
But as you spend time with your Heavenly Father in prayer, a funny thing happens. He begins to change your heart. You will start to want what He wants and care about the things He cares about. Here are some great questions, right out of God’s Word, to help you align your heart with His as you pray:
1) Am I in a right relationship with Him? Is this request consistent with His Word?
If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (John 15:7, NAS)
God is not a “vending machine,” where you insert a prayer and out pops your selection. In this verse we see two conditions to answered prayer: abiding in Him and allowing His words to abide in us. “Abiding” implies connection, relationship. This should be your first priority in prayer.
2) Will it bring glory to God?
You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it! (John 14:13-14, NLT)
It’s not about me! It’s all about Him, His fame, His glory. Keep this in mind as you pray.
3) Will it help further His purposes?
You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. (John 15:16, NLT)
We are here on this earth to have an eternal influence. Surrendering to God’s purposes for your life is essential to experiencing answered prayer.
4) Is my faith in God or in a certain outcome?
But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. (James 1:6a, NLT)
Look to the Giver, not to the gifts you desire from Him. Mature faith focuses on WHO God is rather than on WHAT we want.
5) Are my motives pure?
Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure. (James 4:2b-3, NLT)
If you’re not seeing answers to your prayers, perhaps you need to pause and ask God to purify your motives and cleanse your heart. Then your prayers will more clearly reflect His heart.
3–TRUST His heart.
Prayer is always answered. But a good father doesn’t say “Yes” to everything.
A parent will not always confer the “very thing” which a child asks, but he will seek the welfare of the child, and give what he thinks will be most for its good.”*
God answers prayer in one of three ways:
- No, I love you too much.
- I love you, but you’ll have to wait.
- Yes! I thought you’d never ask! (And I love you!)**
LOVE is ALWAYS the reason behind His answers! You can trust His heart, even when He says “No.” Remember that He loves you, even in the disappointment, even in the waiting.
Come to Him in prayer. As a dearly loved child. Welcomed by a good and perfect Father.
Pour out your heart to Him. Then ask Him to change your heart. Above all, trust His heart of love.
He will answer you.
And you will learn to love Him all the more.
*Barnes’ Notes on the Bible
**Ron Rimby, from “There’s an App for That!” (Italics mine.)