"And [we] receive from Him anything we ask, because we obey His commands and do what pleases Him."
- 1 John 3:22 NIV
This Scripture reveals an important Biblical principle--the power of our prayers is directly related to our obedience to God's Word, and to our desire to do what pleases Him. As we progress in our level of obedience to the Lord, the effectiveness of our prayers will increase. I have seen this principle at work in my own life, as well as in the lives of other believers who walk closely with the Lord. Proverbs 28:9 (NIV) says, "If anyone turns a deaf ear to the law, even his prayers are detestable." This is another verse which shows a connection between our obedience and our prayers. Even though we've made a decision to trust Christ as our Savior, we can't expect ready answers to our prayers when we ignore God's commands. Psalm 66:18-19 (NIV) says, "If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer." If we want God to honor our prayers, we can't wink at sin, or have unconfessed sin in our lives.
We also can't afford to harbor unforgiveness toward anyone. Jesus made that clear when He was teaching us how to have mountain-moving faith in Mark 11: "And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins." (v.25 NIV) The Bible reveals that the quality of our relationships can determine the effectiveness of our prayers. Peter says that husbands must "be considerate" of their wives and "treat them with respect" so that their "prayers may not be hindered." (1 Peter 3:7 NIV) This principle applies to our other relationships, as well.
Jesus said, "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you." (John 15:7 NASB) The Lord is promising us here that if we will live for Him and obey His Word, He will hear and answer our prayers. If you have unsaved or backslidden loved ones, your prayers can make all the difference in their lives. Job 22:30 (NIV) says, "[The Lord] will deliver even one who is not innocent, who will be delivered through the cleanness of your hands." Our prayers of intercession can be especially powerful when we are fully committed to the Lord. This is particularly important when we are unable to reach our loved ones with our conversation or example. Our prayers can be our best "secret weapon" in winning them to Christ.
Scripture admonishes us to, "Find out what pleases the Lord." (Ephesians 5:10 NIV) If we will do our part in committing ourselves to learning and doing God's will, the Lord will do His part in blessing us and honoring our prayers. God doesn't expect us to do it on our own. Philippians 2:13 (NLT) promises: "For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him." And we can pray like David did: "Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; may Your good Spirit lead me on level ground." (Psalm 143:10 NIV) I encourage you to start getting serious about obeying God, and start boosting your prayer power today!
Prayer: Lord, forgive me for the times I haven't taken my prayer responsibilities seriously. Remind me that my prayers can bring salvation to the lost, healing to the sick, and deliverance to those in trouble. Give me the grace and the desire to do Your will in everything. Thank You that as I sow seeds of obedience, I will reap an abundant harvest of answered prayer!
- J. M. Farro