Four Secrets to Answered Prayer
By Rick Warren
— November 13, 2009
“Then [Nehemiah] said, ‘O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesomeGod who keeps his covenant of unfailing love with those who love himand obey his commands, listen to my prayer! . . . I confess that wehave sinned against you . . . Please remember what you told yourservant Moses: If you are unfaithful to me, I will scatter you amongthe nations. But if you return to me and obey my commands and live bythem, then even if you are exiled to the ends of the earth, I willbring you back to the place I have chosen for my name to be honored . .. Please grant me success today by making the king favorable to me. Putit into his heart to be kind to me’” (Nehemiah 1:5-11 NLT).
Here are four secrets to answered prayer from the life of Nehemiah:
Baseyour request on God’s character--Pray like you know God will answeryou: "I’m expecting You to answer this prayer because of Who You are.You are a faithful God. You are a great God. You are a loving God. Youare a wonderful God. You can handle this problem, God!"
Confessthe sins of which you’re aware--After Nehemiah based his prayer on whoGod is, he confessed his sins. He says, "We’ve sinned." He says "Iconfess . . . myself . . . my father’s house . . . we have actedwickedly . . . we have not obeyed." It wasn’t Nehemiah’s fault thatIsrael went into captivity. He wasn’t even born when it happened and hewas most likely born in captivity. Yet, he’s including himself in thenational sins. He says, "I’ve been a part of the problem.”
Claimthe promises of God--Nehemiah prays to the Lord, saying, "I want You toremember what You told your servant Moses." Can you imagine saying"remember" to God? Nehemiah reminds God of a promise He made to thenation of Israel. In effect, he prays, “God, you warned through Mosesthat if we were unfaithful, we would lose the land of Israel. But youalso promised that if we repent, You’d give it back to us.
DoesGod have to be reminded? No. Does He forget what He’s promised? No.Then why do we do this? Because it helps us remember what God haspromised.
Be very specific in what you ask for--If you wantspecific answers to prayer, then make specific requests. If yourprayers consist of general requests, how will you know if they’reanswered?
Nehemiah is not hesitant to pray for success. He’svery bold in his praying. Have you ever prayed, "Lord, make mesuccessful?” If you haven’t, why haven’t you? What is the alternative?A failure?
Is it OK to ask God to make you successful? It alldepends on your definition of success! I believe a good definition ofsuccess is--"Fulfilling God’s purpose for my life in faith, love, andthe power of the Holy Spirit, and expecting the results from God.” Thatis a worthy life objective that you should be able to pray for withconfidence.
Consider this--If you can’t ask God to make you asuccess at what you’re doing, you should be doing something else. Goddoesn’t want you to waste your life.