Prayer (1 Corinthiërs 11:4-5)
Any man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonours his head, but any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled dishonours her head, it is the same as if her head were shaven.
Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets
What does this mean?
God desires to be worshipped and that His children (the believers in Christ) ask what is needed for the well-being of others and themselves. When the believer wishes that the Lord God does something for him or her, then the believer must seriously in prayer search for God. The believer must knock at the door of God and must believe that God will open the door, and that the request will be granted. By which the believer does not have to fear that when they request something wrong, they will receive the bad thing, for God only gives good things to His children (unless against better knowledge the believer insists on having the bad thing). Example: asking for a cure, while God knows it is better to die, because the person involved will not enjoy life any more. God may upon insistent prayer grant life, but the result will be a miserable life for the person involved. But that DEPENDS very much upon the situation. When we as human beings (think to) ask for a fish, God will not give a snake. If we add to our prays: Your will be done.
Therefore believers may have the boldness to ask God everything, and God will grant the request, if the believer believes beyond doubt (Mark 11:23-25) and the believer prays in accordance with Gods Will (John 16:23-24).
Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against any one; so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.
What does this mean?
The Lord God expects belief from the believer, that He will grant that prayer (if requesting in accordance with His Will and the believer does not ask a snake). There is, however, a condition, there must be no hatred, envy, jealousy in the life of the believer and the believer must have forgiven the trespasses of his fellow human beings. For judgment is to God, and likewise God forgives our trespasses, we must forgive the trespasses of our debtors (The "Lords Prayer" prayer). The believer must believe without doubt, then the Lord God will answer.
Doubting if God will answer your prayer, is sin and stands in the way of being answered. But now what if you doubt? Well, confess your sin and your doubts. Tell God why you doubt. For example, because you do not know if you are requesting the good/correct thing. Or because you do not know if the request is in accordance with Gods Will. Speak with God about your thoughts, as children speak and discuss with their parents.
Children also ask their parents for things that are not good for them. Sometimes when a child does not get things their way, they becomes rebellious, so too in the life of a believer. The child ought to discuss these matters with their parents, so too the believer with God. The believer can come freely to God and ask God why He does not answer a prayer. Sometimes, however, it takes years to get a prayer answered (Abraham, despite Gods promise that he would receive a son, had to wait for 13 years before the promised son arrived).
And how Job was tested. And in other cases, God answers the prayer in a totally different way to that we expect.
To be short, talk in prayer about your feeling with God, and do not be afraid to utter your doubts and to ask for His assistance.
In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask anything of the Father, he will give it to you in my name. Hitherto you have asked nothing in my name; ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.
What does this mean?
The believer prays in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that means that the believer asks something in Christ's Name. So, you received a power of attorney from the Lord Jesus Christ. Just like on earth, you receive from someone a power of attorney, this completely relies upon thrust, that you will only do those things what will be in accordance with the will of the person who gave you the power of attorney.
So, a believer should only ask for those things which the Lord Jesus Christ would also ask of God the Father. The believer prays to God the Father, and the believers are allowed to come to God the Father, because they are cleansed through the blood of Jesus Christ. Therefore, the believer is allowed to pray in Jesus Christ's name and to ask in His Name.
And it is followed by a promise: when it is asked in Jesus Christ's name, it will be answered by God the Father! Why? That your joy may be full!
But, I have so may unanswered prayers?
Well, or it was not in accordance with Gods Will (you were not in accordance with the will of the person who gave you the power of attorney). Or you did not asks what is good for yourself (or the person you prayed for). Or God is testing your faith and trust in Him and perhaps you may need even (some years) to wait before God will answer your prayers. All occurs at Gods time and (most of the time) not earlier.
When a believer prays for the salvation of someone, that person's own free will can stand in the way of being saved. Man has received a free will from God. Sometimes it takes years of persistently praying for the salvation of a person, before that person finally comes to accept Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour. Also with the praying person, there is the duty (in love) to reach the person with the gospel.
When the believer asks something of the Lord God, this does not negate the believers duties of following Gods instructions in order to reach the requested goal (objective). For God uses man (and believers) to reach His goal.
Perhaps an anecdote is in order:
A man falls into a fast flowing river, and he prays to God. And God sends a motorboat to save him, and the man refuses aid saying: No, thank you, God will save me. He calls again upon God, and now from a bridge a rope is thrown to him, and he says: No, thanks, God will save me. Again he calls to God. Finally God sends in a helicopter, a rope ladder is thrown, but the man refuses help saying: God will save me. The person drowns. Arriving in Heaven, the man asks God: Why did not you save me? Upon which God replied: I send you a motorboat, a rope and a helicopter, three times you have rejected my offer!
Let the believer use what God have given to the world: food, medicines, vaccination and fellow-people. But, the believer has the duty to examine if it really comes from God and not from Satan (yoga, acupuncture, etc.).
Sometimes God answers the prayer of the believer indirectly, and sometimes in a completely different way to that the believer expects.
And sometimes God gives the believer what the believer does not dare to ask for, but loves to have.
Therefore persist in praying when you know you are praying according to Gods Will!!!
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words. And he who searches the hearts of men knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.
What does this mean?
Sometimes the believer does not exactly know what he/she needs to ask from God, then the Holy Spirit shoots to assist the believer (especially when the believer requests for this) and assists the believer with the correct words. The Spirit wishes to assist the believer in praying to Gods Will, in order that the payers will be answered.
Verse 28, also give a comfort, namely sometimes a believer makes a wrong step, is going conscientiously (hopefully not) or unconscientiously the wrong way, or discovers later on that they she made the incorrect choice or walked on the wrong road. When the believer comes to this recognition before God, God have giving the believer a promise: We know that in everything God works for good with those who love Him (Romans 8:28). BUT this does NOT mean that the believer may sin conscientiously, or walk willfully on the wrong road. So that in those cases the sin would work out for the best, that is NOT stated here!!!
But in some case, the believer must take a decision (and this of course in prayer) and if by any sort of circumstance the believer was not able to listen to God (or Gods answer was hindered by the evil powers or Satan, or a personal inner fight) that the believer took the incorrect decision. When then later turns out that the believer took the incorrect decision, and they recognize and acknowledge this in front of God, then the believer may thank God, that it will work for the good. Of course, the right choice would have been best. But unfortunately we live with a sinful nature, inner emotions and in a sinful environment with evil powers at work, where Satan and his followers will do all to separate the believer from God and to deceive the believer.
Therefore it is a good practice, to start confessing your sins in order to be pure and clean in before God the Father, cleansed through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, filled with the Holy Spirit in order to pray according to Gods Will.
Confessing of sins
When we are aware of sins, we must start by confessing our sins, in order to approach Gods face pure and clean in prayer.
For your daily food and drinks, that you receive from Gods hands (The "Lords Prayer" prayer), your family, your warm house (remember the cold and poverty in the third world countries). Your health, your job and income, etc.
The love of God, that you too receive via your parents and fellow-men.
Pray for the disbelievers in your environment, at work, and who are upon your heart. Pray for the sick and who are in bodily and mental difficulties.
Pray for the church leaders (minister, pastor, deacons, etc.), missionaries and evangelists. Pray the true gospel is proclaimed and no liberal Sermoning, polluted with that which is not from God, and that they and the believers be protected against the evil powers and Satan.
Pray that the Holy Spirit will convince disbelievers of sin and work so that they will accept the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour and Lord.
Service to God
Ask to the Lord how you can serve Him in His Kingdom, ask Him what is His Will for your life, ask what God wishes you to do for Him.
Pray for deepening and enrichment of your faith, that the Holy Spirit explains what you do not understand from the Bible (follow a Bible study). Remember what the Lord said: Pray, knock, and I shall open.
Pray for healing when you are sick and when you meet or have problems. Pray for protection on the road.
Talk about the things that keep you occupied, and all those things which too are considered as normal talking between parents and children (You ARE Gods child!). Do not hide any thing from God (God is able to see into the darkness and what is in your heart). He knows your heart. Dare to speak with Him about your disagreements with Him, be honest when you are angry with God, are angry because He did not answer your prayer. Do not forget that God is ABBA (Father) (Romans 8:15), but also HOLY and deserves your respect.
Colossians 1:9-12 give some indications about praying:
And so, from the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, to lead a life worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.