Have you ever considered the things that do—or don’t—persuade God to answer prayers?

True confession: I find prayer . . . difficult. I’ve struggled with many mindsets over the years about how prayer should be done.

As our sons have matured into adulthood (how can that be?!), I’ve prayed for them. And, at times, it feels like my prayers bounce off the ceiling and pelt my head for their effectiveness. As one son rebelled and the other struggles with bouts of depression, these past few years have been tough. 

And understanding the role of prayer in this phase of parenting? Tougher still.

Wrong beliefs about God’s “method” to answer prayers

Prayer has it’s own set of landmines we must learn to navigate. Everything from inaccurate beliefs about praying and what God will do to lies like “God answers prayers from others, but He won’t answer mine because He loves me less than them or I’m less worthy than others or I’ve worn Him out with my asking . . .” 

We have heard many thoughts on what will give us a “yes” answer to our prayers.

What does not guarantee God’s “yes” answer to prayer

There are the questions of posture. Must I be on my knees, or on my face before God deigns to hear my prayers? 

Must we pray a specific way—with a ton of emotion or none at all? Following a script like A.C.T.S (Acknowledge God, Confess sin, Thanksgiving, Supplication)? 

Do we pray out of obligation or from a desire to commune with Him?

What role does faith play? Is it possible we don’t have enough faith, and that’s why God doesn’t answer prayers we send heavenward? 

Image of a bridge high over a waterfall on rocks, symbolic of how sometimes it feels hard to know what kinds of praying persuades God to answer prayers
5 Ways to Pray That Don’t Persuade God to Answer Prayers 7

When God didn’t answer prayers with “yes”

When we struggled with infertility, some people told me if I only had more faith, God would give us a baby. 


I prayed. 

In faith. 

And God seemed silent. 

I prayed for His will. 

That He would remove the desire for a baby from my heart. 

And He didn’t.

God sees beyond all of these things. More than any externals, He looks at the heart. 

When we are authentic before Him—when we’re real about our thoughts, doubts, feelings, hopes, struggles—God hears us. 

Whether we are face-on-the-carpet or stuck in rush hour traffic, God hears our prayers. He looks at our hearts. When we pray, what are our expectations? That He must answer, “Yes!” because of how we approach Him?

This bridge is a symbol reminding us that we must choose what brings joy and walk into that joy
5 Ways to Pray That Don’t Persuade God to Answer Prayers 8

Truths about prayer

Here’s the truth: God doesn’t answer yes because we’ve discovered the magic ticket to persuade Him we deserve that Yes.

And He doesn’t answer No because we messed up so big He can’t see past our mistakes. 

God always answers prayers. In His perfect timing. And in His perfect way. Sometimes, He says, “Yes, this is the best answer for you.”

Other times, God responds, “No.” Maybe it’s not the right time for that thing we’re praying for. Or, perhaps, because our Father isn’t confined by time as we are, He sees that answering with a “yes” would be outside of His best for us. 

Perspective about prayer

When we pray, we must remember we are talking with our Heavenly Father, the God who created the universe. We’re conversing with a God who is outside the time continuum, yet who sees this moment as we live it.

And the next moment. 

And the one after that.

Additional truths about prayer

Prayer is not dependent on us doing things right to get the answer we want. Genuine prayer is about communing with the One who created us. The God who loves us more than we can comprehend. 

Prayer involves trusting our Father to know what His best is for us and to bring it about in our lives. 

Prayer is about believing God has our best in mind. He knows the purposes He created us for. He understands our heart desires, our gifting, talents, our bents, passions, strengths and weaknesses. 

Our Father loves when we come to Him in humility and believing in all of who He is. When we struggle with these facets, He doesn’t turn His back on us. Instead, God continues to work in our hearts and spirits, revealing our weaknesses, hidden motives, and our why behind the ask. When we trust God, He conforms us into the image of His Son. 

When we’re yielded to God, He continues to draw us into deeper intimacy with Him. And, He aligns our desires with His (see Psalm 37:4)

An image of a close up walking bridge that is symbolic of how being honest with God on a heart level invites God to answer prayers
5 Ways to Pray That Don’t Persuade God to Answer Prayers 9


Prayer is centered on praying the “right” way; it’s about coming before our Father who loves us more than anyone, trusting He hears us, and will give us the answer that is best for us. 

I still pray for my sons each day. And as I do, God is revealing both specific things to pray about for each of them. He’s also showing work He’s still crafting in my own heart and life. 

What about you? What’s an impacting lesson you’ve learned about praying? What have you learned about how God chooses to answer prayers of your heart?

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