“This, then, is how you should pray.” Mt 6:9 NIV
If prayer came naturally, God wouldn’t have to remind us so often to do it. A consistent prayer life requires crucifying our selfish nature. But when prayer doesn’t seem rewarding, we’re apt to abandon it. So how can you pray and get results? (1) Before you ask, adore! Any prayer that begins with asking can become self-centered and shallow. “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name” (Ps 100:4 NIV). When God’s love, goodness and faithfulness are your starting point, you’re lifted out of yourself, your spirit is prepared to “connect” with God, the content of your prayer becomes more scriptural, and you get results. In the Lord’s Prayer Jesus directs our attention first to God’s name, then His kingdom, then His will. After that, we ask for “our daily bread.” Thanksgiving doesn’t condition God to bless you—it conditions you to receive His blessing. (2) When you pray, persist! God’s not an automated teller. You are supposed to stay engaged with Him until He decides to answer you. This involves an attitude of faith, persistence and patience. Jesus gave us a parable about a woman who kept pleading with a hardhearted judge to grant her petition. When she finally wore him down, he gave her what she asked. Jesus had only one purpose for the parable: “To show them that they should always pray and not give up” (Lk 18:1 NIV). The point is not that persistence forces God’s cooperation, it’s that God wants you to pray and not quit. When you persist God will answer, “and quickly!” (v. 8 NIV).