Question: Are you praying with confidence?
Most Christians believe that God can do great things, but they struggle with the notion that He will do great things for them. But without faith (complete trust and confidence that God will do what He says), we cannot access God's promises. Hebrews 4:16 encourages, "Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need" (New International Version). We can pray with boldness because Christ has given us authority to petition Heaven. Therefore, pray with certainty. Declare that God can deliver His promises, and He will do it for you.
Question: Have you forgiven those who have hurt or betrayed you?
Unforgiveness can hinder your prayers. In Mark 11:25, Jesus stated, "When you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in Heaven will forgive your sins, too" (New Living Translation). This Scripture suggests that there are conditions attached to our prayers. Although salvation is freely given to us because of Christ, we must sow seeds of forgiveness in order for our prayers to be effective. If you don't believe it, read John 9:31: "God doesn't listen to sinners, but He is ready to hear those who worship Him and do His will" (New Living Translation).
Question: Do your words line-up with your prayers?
Our prayers can be counterproductive, if our daily conversations don't support what we're praying for. For example, if you're praying for healing, don't talk about how sick you are. Instead, fill your mouth with Scriptures that proclaim God's healing power. If you're praying for a financial breakthrough, don't grumble about how much you're struggling. Rather, recite Scriptures that declare God's ability to supply your needs. Proverbs 18:21 warns, "Words kill, words give life; they're either poison or fruit – you choose" (The Message Bible).
Question: Are you doing your part?
Let's face it: People are lazy. And that includes Christians. We can fall into the trap of expecting God to do everything, but we must do our part. James 2:17 asserts, "Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead" (New International Version). In essence, our prayers must be backed by corresponding action. For example, if you're praying for a new job, it's likely that you'll have to apply for a job – and maybe several jobs. Similarly, if you're praying to get out of debt, you'll need to implement a new level of financial discipline. Also, if you're asking God to strengthen your marriage, you and your spouse will need to actively (and consistently) redirect destructive behaviors that hinder intimacy. Our job is to plant good decisions (seeds), and our prayers enable those decisions to grow into a fruitful harvest.