Updated: Oct 11, 2018
As much as we may not like it, our obedience to God's commands determines how effective our prayers are.
"If we would have power in prayer, we must be earnest students of His Word to find out what His will regarding us is, and then having found it, DO IT" (Torrey). Just Do It is easier said than done.
Our own sinfulness, our failure to obey, hinders our prayers: "Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so he will not hear" (Isaiah 59:1).
The reverse is also true: when we follow Him in obedience our prayers bear fruit, "And we receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him" (I John 3:22).
When my own children obey the rules of our household, things run smoothly. Even more so, when they go out of their way to please us, when they look for ways to be helpful, our hearts are warmed and we, in turn, seek ways to bless them as well.
In the same way, God delights in His children searching for ways to please Him. It goes beyond mere obedience; it looks a whole lot like laying down our lives and taking up our crosses. That can be done in both big and small ways. Loving your neighbor as yourself is a start. Serving in the sphere He's given you goes a long way as well. Most of us aren't called to leave hearth and home to do His will: we look for ways to make Him smile right where we are. When we obey Him—even please Him—He jumps at the chance to powerfully answer our prayers.