Prayer is an anytime, respectful communication with God. And with these wonderful, personal times with the Lord, knowing and executing a certain pre-prayer mindset would go a long way in honoring your relationship with God.
A grateful, thankful heart and mind is a wonderful pre-prayer condition to bring into your prayer life. It properly sets the atmosphere of the room and attitude of our heart to communicate with God. A wise practice would be not to go into prayer with The Lord empty handed. Just like bringing tribute to a king, the King of Kings deserves our praise up front, in advance of any requests.
In Exodus 23:15; 34:20 and Deuteronomy 16:16 God comes flat out and says - "No one is to appear before me empty-handed." And in Psalm 100:4, David wrote -
- "Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name."
Paul also encourages this in the New Testament when in Hebrews 13:15 he stated -
- "Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise--the fruit of lips that confess his name."
Though Matthew 7:7 instructs believers to "ask" as a first step, the next two instructions supplies readers with even more action words - "seek" and "knock". I would venture to say that most of the time believers pray, our answers are not instant. Notice all three types of actions are pursuits after God. All these instructions require that the Christian actively participate in the journey toward God's solution. So, coming to God in prayer with the mindset that God may answer us like the judge answered the persistent woman in Luke 18:1-8 would be very beneficial for the believer in Christ.
Another thing that both Christians and God are going to appreciate in prayer is brevity and humility. Matthew records Jesus saying,
- "And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him." (Matthew 6:7-8)
There are some CEOs, company Presidents, management and simply corporate employees that fit this need-to-be-heard bill. In their presentations and small group speech they do their best to use big, impressive words when common ones would suffice nicely. Many meetings have been nothing but a dog and pony show with a bunch of fluffy words and nothing understood or carried away as productive from them. This is what God wants to avoid in our meeting with Him during prayer.
The advantage of being specific with God is He will be specific with you. Ask a specific question, receive a specific answer. Plus, this leaves no shadow of a doubt that God heard you and has informed you when He responds. Ask a broad, generic question to God and don't complain when the answer does not suit your liking. Be short, to the point and specific with your words/request.
The Lord also informed us not to broadcast our prayers for the sake of vanity but make prayer a more private matter.
- "And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." - Matthew 6:5-6
So we approach God in prayer with a thankful heart, giving Him praise, using specific requests and in a private setting, knowing that we may have to return and seek more from Him. But sometimes the request(s) seem not to be heard or possibly denied. What is that about? What is the answer?
As I have said in previous posts - some say God's answers are in one of three forms -
- I will do the very thing you ask.
- Not yet.
- I have something better for you.
However, James adds that different wants, other desires and/or covetousness will keep us from being aligned in a relationship with God and His desires. In fact, James attributes discord in individuals, couples and families to this difference of wants. The start of arguments and fights as wells as personal conflicts within our own selves are also consequences of not being on the same page with God.
James 4:1-3 stated this idea like this -
"What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures."
James not only says that our desires are not aligned with God's, but that by the time we get around to looking for help we either don't ask God at all - "You do not have because you do not ask God." - or we ask God but with selfish intentions - "When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures."
If Christians do make the effort to align their motives with God's when they petition the Lord in prayer then that verse could read - When you ask, you receive, because you ask with the correct motives, that you may apply what you get according to God's will. (Pritchard Perceving) The decision comes down to what do you want and that is exactly what Christ is asking each time we come to Him in prayer with the hope our choice is His desires and will for our lives, because He will honor that request.
What believers in Christ do in preparation for prayer or in their approach to God's personal presence is so important. A grateful heart, seeking and knocking after asking, keeping your prayers brief, private and humble. Plus, aligning your questions to God which are driven by your motives to be one with the Lord's. This is why Christians should have or develop a Pre-Prayer Mindset.