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What does the Bible say about prayer? Does God answer all prayers?

Christians often emphasize the importance of prayer. But what is prayer for? How do you pray correctly? And does God really answer all prayers? This article will debunk some misconceptions about prayer and explain how to approach God correctly and successfully according to Bible scripture.

What is a prayer according to the Bible?

First of all, let’s clarify what a prayer actually is. In most cases, a prayer is a request addressed to God. That’s why it’s called “praying” or “pleading”.

Hear the right, O Lord, attend unto my cry, give ear unto my prayer, that goeth not out of feigned lips. (Psalms 17:1)

However, praying is much more than just turning to God when you need or want something. God is much more pleased with gratitude or a contact made out of love for Him. It’s like calling someone only when you need something without contacting them otherwise. That’s not a way to build a relationship or even maintain one.

Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving. (Colossians 4:2)

Actions can also be prayers. In fact, the Bible calls sincere conduct a flawless prayer that God is much more pleased with than with words. The following Bible passages show that sincere conduct is not about our own will, but about what God wants from us.

Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men. (Isaiah 29:13)

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. (Romans 12:1)

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer. (Psalms 19:14)

Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10)

How should we pray according to the Bible?

Furthermore, we should be aware that God has no interest in empty words. In prayer, we should always be led by the Holy Spirit.

But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:23-24)

A prayer doesn’t always have to be put into words, as the following Bible verses clearly show. Praying without ceasing does not mean addressing God with words all day long. It can also be done with unspoken words in the spirit.

Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. (Romans 8:26)

Another important aspect of prayer is faith in what we ask for. Sincere prayer that pleases God is always done in faith. That means being certain of what we ask for and acting confidently and accordingly.

And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. (1 John 5:15)

Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. (Mark 11:24)

And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive. (Matthew 21:22)

Praying in the name of Jesus

The Bible repeatedly states that we should pray to God in the name of Jesus. Jesus himself instructed his disciples to approach the Father in his name.

Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. (John 15:16)

And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. (John 14:13)

However, Jesus also pointed out that he would not pray for them in the future, since they would receive the Spirit of God and become one with the Father themselves.

At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. (John 16:26-27)

In short, as long as we have not yet been reconciled with God and become one with him, Jesus is the mediator through whom we can approach God. However, this changes when we receive the Spirit of God and become close to Him ourselves.

The Lord’s Prayer – Prayer of example

In the following Bible verses, Jesus explains how we should approach God in prayer.

Therefore, you should pray like this:

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. (Matthew 6:9-13)

How you should not pray

In Christianity, there are many misconceptions about how to pray. Since the New Testament of the Bible says a lot about how you shouldn’t pray, here is a list of things that God does not like in a prayer.

One should not pray before people to be seen but seek God’s presence alone

And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. (Matthew 6:5-6)

One should not use many words in prayer but pray sincerely and straightforwardly

It is not about how many or extravagant words are used in prayer, but solely about what is in the heart. If God wants to answer a prayer, He will do so no matter how few words are used. A decorated poem will not persuade Him to answer a prayer that He does not want to answer.

But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. (Matthew 6:7-8)

A sincere prayer should come from the heart

Furthermore, it is important that a prayer comes from the heart and is sincere in nature. The common practice of reciting prayers from the Bible or church books without guidance from the Spirit or a profound reason is not biblical and does not find favor with God. This also applies to the “The Lord’s Prayer” mentioned above. If one does not mean it sincerely or even understand what is written there, it has no value for God.

Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. (Matthew 15:7-8)

The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (James 5:16)

Imagine trying to build a relationship with someone and constantly reciting words without meaning them. Do you think that person would be pleased? And yet we should treat God much more respectfully and sincerely than our fellow human beings.

Does God answer all prayers?

No question is asked more often than this one: Why doesn’t God answer my prayers? Most likely, everyone has heard this question before, if not even asked it themselves. The Bible gives some reasons why many prayers are not answered.

God only answers prayers that are in accordance with His will

The most common reason for unanswered prayers is very obvious. They do not correspond to God’s will. Unfortunately, this is the most overlooked aspect when it comes to walking in faith. It doesn’t matter how many times you ask for something, even if the churches tell you something else. If it does not correspond to God’s will, IT WILL NOT HAPPEN.

And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us. (1 John 5:14)

We should not expect God to do everything we want from Him. Because actually, our discipleship consists in doing what HE wants from us.

God does not answer the prayers of sinners

The next, unfortunately almost silenced point in Christianity, is the fact that according to the Bible, God does not listen to the prayers of the unrighteous and sinners. The following Bible verses make that very clear.

Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth. (John 9:31)

For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. (1 Peter 3:12)

God only forgives those who forgive their fellow human beings

However, sinners who repent, turn away from their sin, and seek forgiveness are heard by Him. But only under the condition that we also forgive others before seeking forgiveness from Him.

And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. (Mark 11:25)

For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:14-15)

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. (Matthew 6:12)

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (James 5:16)

We should not expect God to forgive our sins and answer our prayers if we do not forgive our debtors. Everyone should make sure that they forgive their fellow human beings without anger or remorse before turning to God.

Those who doubt while praying should not expect to be heard

And finally, doubt. Even if a prayer was righteous coming from a true worshipper of God, it would not be heard if there was doubt found in it.

But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. (James 1:6-7)


We should not expect our prayers to be answered if they do not align with God’s will. A prayer should always be sincere and guided by the Spirit of God. Our Father values the condition of our heart much more than words. In the end, a righteous service for God consists in following God’s will, and not trying to impose ours on Him. Moreover, everyone should be aware that God does not hear prayers from the unrighteous, doubters, and those who do not forgive others, unless they turn from their wicked ways.

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (2. Chronicles 7:14)

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