Right motives. The reason you pray is much more important than the words you say. The motive is the why behind the what. And having a pure heart that loves God and loves people is always acceptable to the Lord. On the other hand, selfishness is unacceptable, revenge is unacceptable, manipulation and control are unacceptable, jealousy is unacceptable, pride is unacceptable, and praying to win the lottery is unacceptable. In fact, anything that’s selfishly based is an unacceptable motive.
Somebody once asked a little boy if he said his prayers every night. He thought about it for a second and replied, ‘No, some nights I don’t need anything.’ Sound familiar?
The first and foremost reason for prayer is to develop an intimate relationship with God. Think about it: how long do you think your marriage would last if you only came home to see your spouse when you needed clean laundry, a good meal, and a little loving? Not very long, right? The same principle applies to prayer. Jesus said, ‘If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.’ (John 15:7 NKJV) When you focus on ‘abiding’ in Christ, you will get a response to your ‘asking’.
James writes, ‘Your prayers are not answered, because you pray just for selfish reasons.’ The truth is, we’re innately self-centred. That’s why we need to purify our hearts on a regular basis—and that calls for examining our motives. It may be painful at first, but you must do it if you want to see your prayers answered.