We need wisdom in praying. “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” ( ). In asking for wisdom, we must also trust that God is gracious and willing to answer our prayers: “But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt” ( ; see also ). So, praying according to the will of God includes asking for wisdom (to know the will of God) and asking in faith (to trust the will of God). James 1:5 James 1:6 Mark 11:24
Here are seven biblical instructions that will guide the believer in praying according to God’s will:
1) Pray for the things for which the Bible commands prayer. We are told to
pray for our enemies (Matthew 5:44); for God to send missionaries (Luke
10:2); that we do not enter temptation (Matthew 26:41); for ministers of the
Word (Colossians 4:3; 2 Thessalonians 3:1); for government authorities (1
Timothy 2:1-3); for relief from affliction (James 5:13); and for the healing of
fellow believers (James 5:16). Where God commands prayer, we can pray
with confidence that we are praying according to His will.
2) Follow the example of godly characters in Scripture. Paul prayed for the
salvation of Israel (Romans 10:1). David prayed for mercy and forgiveness
when he sinned (Psalm 51:1-2). The early church prayed for boldness to
witness (Acts 4:29). These prayers were according to the will of God, and
similar prayers today can be as well. As with Paul and the early church, we
should always be praying for the salvation of others. For ourselves, we should
pray as David prayed, always aware of our sin and bringing it before God
before it hinders our relationship with Him and thwarts our prayers.
3) Pray with the right motivation. Selfish motives will not be blessed by God.
“When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that
you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (James 4:3). We should also
pray, not so our lofty words can be heard and we may be seen by others as
“spiritual,” but mostly in private and in secret, so that our heavenly Father
will hear in private and reward us openly (Matthew 6:5-6).
4) Pray with a spirit of forgiveness toward others (Mark 11:25). A spirit of
bitterness, anger, revenge or hatred toward others will prevent our hearts
from praying in total submission to God. Just as we are told not to give
offerings to God while there is conflict between ourselves and another
Christian (Matthew 5:23-24), in the same way God does not want the offering
of our prayers until we have reconciled with our brothers and sisters in
5) Pray with thanksgiving (Colossians 4:2; Philippians 4:6-7). We can always
find something to be thankful for, no matter how burdened we are by our
wants or needs. The greatest sufferer that lives in this world of redeeming
love, and who has the offer of heaven before him, has reason to be grateful to
6) Pray with persistence (Luke 18:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:17). We should
persevere in prayer and not quit or be dejected because we have not received
an immediate answer. Part of praying in God’s will is believing that, whether
His answer is “yes,” “no,” or “wait,” we accept His judgment, submit to His
will, and continue to pray.
7) Rely on the Spirit of God in prayer. This is a wonderful truth: “We do not
know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with
groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the
mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance
with God’s will” (Romans 8:26-27).
We have the Spirit’s help in praying. At the times of our deepest depression or
sorrow, those times when we feel that we “just cannot pray,” we have the
comfort of knowing that the Holy Spirit is actually praying for us! What an
amazing God we have!
Only as we follow and observe the above points are we able to pray according
to the will of God. Someone has said, “Something will go wrong in your life.
When you don’t pray.” So let us pray and keep on praying.