Four Secrets to Answered Prayer
“Then [Nehemiah] said, ‘O LORD, God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps his covenant of unfailing love with those who love him and obey his commands, listen to my prayer! . . . I confess that we have sinned against you . . . Please remember what you told your servant Moses: “If you are unfaithful to me, I will scatter you among the nations. But if you return to me and obey my commands and live by them, then even if you are exiled to the ends of the earth, I will bring 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. Put it into his heart to be kind to me.’” (Nehemiah 1:5-11, NLT)
God wants you to pray bold prayers.
For example, Nehemiah, cupbearer to King Artaxerxes, prayed a bold prayer when he heard about the desolation of Jerusalem. He prayed that God would move upon the king’s heart to allow him to return to Jerusalem to help the city rebuild its protective wall.
In his prayer, Nehemiah revealed four secrets to answered prayer:
Base your request on God’s character. Nehemiah started his prayer by listing God’s character traits and deeds. He prayed with confidence because he knew who God was. You too can pray like you know God will answer you. Pray something like: "You are a faithful God. You are a great God. You are a loving God. You are a wonderful God. I’m expecting you to answer this prayer because of who you are. You can handle this problem, God!"
Confess the sins you’re aware of. Nehemiah confessed his sins. It wasn’t Nehemiah’s fault that Israel had gone into captivity. He wasn’t even born when it happened. Yet, he included himself in the national sins. He basically said, “I’ve been part of the problem.”
Claim the promises of God. Nehemiah prayed to the Lord, saying, “Please remember what you told your servant Moses” (Nehemiah 1:8 NLT). Can you imagine saying "remember" to God? Nehemiah reminded God of a promise he made to the nation of Israel. In effect, he prayed, “God, you warned through Moses that if we were unfaithful, we would lose the land of Israel. But you also promised that if we repent, you’d give it back to us.”
Does God have to be reminded? No. Does he forget what he’s promised? No. Then why should you remind God? Because it helps you remember what God has promised.
Be very specific about what you ask for. If you want specific answers, then make specific requests. If your prayers consist of general requests, how will you know if God answered them?
After Nehemiah spoke to the king, he wrote, “It pleased the king to send me” (Nehemiah 2:6 NIV). God answered Nehemiah’s prayer.
Nehemiah boldly prayed for success. Have you ever prayed, “Lord, make me successful”? If you haven’t, why not? Is it okay to ask God to make you successful? It all depends on your definition of success. I believe a good definition of success is this: "Fulfilling God’s purpose for my life in faith, love, and the power of the Holy Spirit.” That is a worthy life objective that you can pray for with confidence.
Next time you come to God needing answers to your prayers, follow Nehemiah’s example. Proclaim God’s character, confess your sins, claim God’s promises, and make specific requests. Then wait expectantly for God to answer!
Talk It Over
What have you been asking God for? How does that request align with (or not align with) his character?
Have you been praying generally for something? How can you turn that general request into a specific request?
What promises of God do you need to claim today?
No matter what you’ve done or where you’ve been, you’ve got a place in God’s forever family ready and waiting for you. The invitation is wide open. Just believe and receive.
Trust in God’s character and the grace he extends. Confess your sins and ask God to forgive you. Claim the promise of Jesus, that salvation is free and open to anyone who turns from their sins and agrees to follow him as their Lord and Savior. Humbly ask God to accept you into his forever family.
Are you ready? Here’s a prayer you can start with:
“Dear God, I know when I die, I’m going to give an account of my life to you. I know I have sinned against you, and I have lived by my plan, not yours. I want that to change, starting right now. I want to turn away from my sins and toward you.
“Thank you for sending Jesus to die for all that I’ve done wrong so that I don’t have to pay the penalty. I know I don’t deserve your forgiveness. I know only your grace can save me, Lord. I could never be good enough to get into a perfect place.
“Jesus, thank you for loving me so much that you took all my guilt on yourself. You made me acceptable for heaven, and I humbly ask you to save me. I believe in you, Jesus. And I believe you will keep your promise to save me instantly, certainly, completely, and eternally. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”
If you just prayed to accept Jesus, please email me at Rick@PastorRick.com and let me know. I’d like to send you some free materials to help you start your journey with Jesus.
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This devotional © 2022 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.