"The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth."Psalm 145:18 (NIV)
Pray for truth. When we have a problem, a habit that has us beaten, a conflict, or even some sicknesses, we tend to focus our prayers on the symptoms rather than on the cause or causes. As counselor Dr. Cecil Osborne explains, when we unconsciously cover a deeper sin or fault, we tend to confess a lesser one all the more vigorously [or somebody else's]. This is because we don't see or are afraid to see the often deeper cause or causes of our problems.
Whenever I have a problem, I acknowledge the problem but also ask God to show me the root cause of the problem, because often our problems are the fruit of a deeper root. In other words, we usually just see the "presenting problem," which so often is the symptom of a deeper problem.
This is why I ask God to face me with the truth of what I am or might be contributing to my problem, to give me the courage to see it, and the help to do what I need to do to resolve it. Praying for the truth is one of the most effective ways of praying I know. Sometimes I don't want to see the truth for fear it might be too frightening, so I tell God that I am willing to be made willing to see it—whatever it might be—and no matter how painful this might be.
Whenever I have prayed this way, I have always had my prayer answered. Sometimes the answer comes quickly, other times slowly. It usually depends on when I am ready to receive it.
Pray honestly. If I pray that God will bless my neighbor, but in my heart I hate my neighbor, which prayer will God hear? Obviously, what my heart is saying. The only way God will bless my neighbor in answer to my prayer is if I admit that I hate him and ask God to help me to love him.
Meaningless repetition doesn't mean a thing to God. Matthew 6:7 The prayer he hears and answers is the one that comes from the heart. As today's Scripture says, "The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth."1
Pray believing. Faith, too, is essential for effective prayer. As Jesus said, "All things, whatever you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive,"Matthew 21:22 (NIV) and "according to your faith will it be done to you." Matthew 9:29 (NIV)
To be concluded…
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me always to pray according to the principles as found in your Word, the Bible, so I can be certain you will hear and answer my prayers. Thank you, too, that when I am truthful with you, you are near to help me when I call on you. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus' name. Amen."