Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Eddie Smith's new book, How to be Heard in Heaven: Moving from Need-Driven to God-Centered Prayer, (Bethany House, 2007). Our reader commented: "Wow – what an amazing book this is!  Before reading it, I had thought I was pretty good at praying, but this book helped me see some important ways I can grow in prayer, and I hope this article will do the same for readers."

Do you devote lots of time and energy to prayer, yet sometimes feel frustrated because it seems like you’re not getting answers?

Despite how much effort you put into praying, God may not answer your prayers at all if you approach Him in the wrong way. But if you come to God in the right way, your prayers will be heard in heaven.

Here’s how you can be heard in heaven:

Become the kind of person to whom God listens. Realize that God doesn’t answer prayers; He answers people who pray. Understand the three types of people mentioned in the Bible to whom God refuses to listen: those who refuse to repent of their sin, those who try to manipulate Him in prayer, and those who are double-minded. Make sure you’ve confessed and repented of the sins of which you’re aware, that your motives for praying are pure, and that you’re living with integrity and passion for God as your top priority.

Move to a higher level of prayer. Although the most common type of prayer is one that simply presents requests to God, understand that praying to receive something is the lowest level of prayer and that God expects believers to grow beyond that into prayer that pleases Him more. The second level of prayer is praying to relate – enriching your relationship with God through praise, worship, and adoration. Know that this kind of prayer brings God great pleasure, but there’s a still higher level of prayer. The top level of prayer is praying to produce – prayer that seeks to fulfill God’s purposes on Earth to expand His kingdom in this fallen world and bring Him glory. As you grow in spiritual maturity, graduate from problem-centered praying to purpose driven prayer.

Elevate God’s agenda above your own. Recognize that prayer isn’t primarily about you; it’s about God. Ask God to help you focus more on fulfilling His purposes than you do on getting your own needs and desires met. Know that if you make fulfilling God’s purposes your highest priority in prayer, He will give you everything you need. Pray according to God’s will, seeking to expand His kingdom first, and everything else will fall into place.

Instead of asking God to change your circumstances, ask Him to use them. Don’t be surprised by the struggles you encounter in this fallen world, and don’t waste most of your energy in prayer seeking escape from challenging circumstances. Instead, pray that God will use your circumstances to help you grow as a person, glorify Christ, and extend His kingdom.

Pray for blessing, not cursing. Never use prayer to ask God to harm someone who has offended you. Remember that we’re now under the new covenant of grace, in which Christ calls believers to love and pray for their enemies.

Pray with God, not just to Him. Know that God responds to prayers that align with His will. Invite the Holy Spirit to guide you to pray about the right things with the right attitude, so that your prayers will become more effective.

Expect extraordinary results. Pray with a sense of eager anticipation, expecting that God may very well do something extraordinary even in ordinary situations. Remember that prayer works; it can and does bring about powerful change. Know that God sometimes even chooses to perform miracles in response to prayer. Don’t doubt that God will respond to your prayer; believe that He will always act to do what’s best.