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The art of successful prayer
how and when to pray
is God really there?

God never did anything for me; If God is there he doesn't answer my prayers; Why bother praying since no one is there; If God were there he would show himself to us. etc.  

If you have yourself raised some of these questions, I can tell you how to put this to the test. I'm hesitant to phrase it that way as Jesus himself has said, Matthew 3:7, "Do not put the Lord your God to the test." However, if you know God then you know that he will answer your prayers. Knowing God comes from reading the Bible, praying and following his commandments. It's good to keep in mind that having your prayers answered may or may not mean you get what you want. It is, after all, not only about each of us. If, now, you are saying God hasn't answered your prayers, read on and we will look at two possible reasons why not.
  1. First off God has a plan for us. If we ask for something that doesn't fit into that plan then likely he will not respond. In Jeremiah 29:11, God says, "For I know the plans I have for you," "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
  2. Then comes the issue of what specifically we are asking for. James 4:3, says, "When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spread what you get on your pleasures."
Now we're back to reading the Bible and prayer. Through these we get to know God and what his plan for us is and what kinds of prayers he is likely to answer. In my opinion and experience, he's more likely to say "yes" to a prayer request if we are asking for some need to be met for some other person and if the personal values behind the request are in keeping with God's values. God's values include: looking out for our neighbor, ie our fellow man; giving to those in need; being humble and respectful in our demeanor and following the ten commandments which include not lying or stealing or being sexually irresponsible.

Now comes the topic of how will God meet your request if he does say yes. For example, if you pray for your elderly parents health and comfort, it may be that God will respond by making a suggestion or opportunity for you to spend more time with them. Sometimes he is more direct. For example you are having difficulty getting along with a colleague and you ask God for help, things may get better suddenly.

However I believe that the stronger your bond with Jesus Christ, the more your prayers will get answered positively. Jesus died and was resurrected and has been living with us since then. Given his close presence, he is not difficult to connect to especially since he wants to be connected to each of us. He himself stated in James 15:5, I am the vine, you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him he will bear much fruit." James 4:8 says, "Come near to God and he will come near to you."

So how do we pray? Quietly, privately and with regard for God and others. Personally one of my favaorites is the Lord's prayer and find that it covers a lot of ground. Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdon come, thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven, Give us this day our daily bread, forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the Kingdom, the power and the glory for ever and ever, Amen.