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Three Keys To Answered Prayer

And I say to you ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you (Luke 11:9).

Prayer is an essential part of our relationship with God. Yet, too often we neglect this vital bridge of communication with heaven. In many cases, we don't pray because we don't know exactly how to pray -- or how often.

Jesus' disciples clearly saw the effect that prayer had in His life. He spent large amounts of time in prayer, often by Himself. The disciples soon realized that the demonstration of God's power and wisdom flowing from Jesus' life directly resulted from the intimate fellowship He enjoyed with His Father.

When they asked Him to explain more to them about prayer, Jesus told them this story:

"Suppose one of you shall have a friend, and shall go to him at midnight, and say to him, 'Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him;' and from inside he shall answer and say, 'Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.' "I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs. "And I say to you ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it shall be opened." (Luke 11:5-10)

The three keys Jesus gives for seeing answers to prayer can be summed up as: Be persistent, be purposeful, and be personal.

Be Persistent

The first key to answered prayer is persistence -- which means "to hold fast to," or hold onto tightly. God wants us to hold on tightly to His promises in prayer. Don't let disappointment cause you to let go of your faith.

The man in the parable didn't give up when his neighbor turned down his initial request. Jesus pointed out that the neighbor wouldn't get up and give him anything just because he was the man's friend. But because of his persistence, he would eventually get up and give him what he needed.

The Greek language in Luke 11:10 can be translated, "ask and keep on asking and it shall be given you; seek and keep on seeking and you shall find; knock and keep on knocking and the door shall be opened to you."

If we call on God, He promises to answer! But we must wait on the Lord and let Him answer our prayers in His perfect timing. Many times the greatest trial comes just before the answer arrives; it often seems darkest just before dawn.

Be Purposeful

The Bible says one of the reasons we haven't received God's best is that we haven't asked Him (see James 4:2). But God wants us to share our hearts with Him. He wants children who are willing to dream His dreams.

The man in this story knew what he wanted and asked with a definite purpose.

Take your needs and concerns to the Lord in prayer. Dare to ask God for your desires. Psalm 37:4 says, "Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart." Allow God to expand your vision, and spend time in prayer so you'll be prepared to receive the good things He has in store for you.

Maybe you are dealing with a broken relationship, overwhelming financial burdens, the frustration of ill health, or the salvation of a loved one. The Lord wants you to come to Him in faith about whatever is on your heart. And don't just stop with your own needs. Ask God for a vision for your community, this nation and the world. Then, begin praying about the situations He impresses on your mind. Remember, the more you pray for the concerns on God's heart, the more you will find your own needs being met.

Be Personal

The most important key to effective prayer is a personal relationship with our Heavenly Father. The man in the parable went to his friend when he needed help.

Two men in the Bible who are known for their great faith are Abraham and Moses. Both men enjoyed an intimate friendship with God. James 2:23 says of Abraham, "...he was called the friend of God," and Exodus 33:11 says, "...the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend." Both men saw God do great miracles in their lives.

But remember, it takes time to develop a close friendship. You can start by involving God in the details of your life and learning to recognize His faithfulness even in little everyday challenges and events. Develop a plan of Bible reading and prayer that works for you. Pray for family and friends who may not know Jesus.

And be sure to thank Him when the answers come!

What a comfort to know that God loves us so deeply that He has given each of us an "open line" directly to Him whenever we need direction, comfort or strength. And His continuing promise to us is that He will answer our prayers!

Do you want Peace with God?

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