Perhaps the most asked question regarding God among believers is: “Why don’t my prayers get answered, and what can I do about it?” And perhaps the reason for most unanswered prayers is found in James 4:3-6.
“You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your own pleasures. You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world is an enemy of God.”
“Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: ‘He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us?’ But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, ‘God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.'” (NASB)
Why don’t my prayers get answered? It could be due to wrong motives. Or selfishness. Or worldliness. Or hostility toward God. But, according to James 4:7-10, I can change that.
“Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hand, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”
“Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” (NASB)
So then, how do I change things? Submit to God. Resist the devil. Turn toward God. Stop dabbling in sin. Clean up my heart. Develop a one-track mind. Fall on my face before God and grieve over my sins.
And there is one more step. Pray according to God’s will.
“This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.” 1 John 5:14-15 (NASB)
Since God’s will is found first in His Word, then reading the Bible to find it will also help me to know for what I should pray.