Then he said to me, "Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words."
A young seminary graduate stepped up to the pulpit, very self-confident and immaculately dressed. He began to deliver his first sermon in his first church. There was a problem, however. The words simply would not come out. Finally, he burst into tears and left the platform obviously humbled. Two elderly women were sitting in the front row. One remarked to the other, "If he'd come in like he went out, he would have gone out like he came in."
What's true of preaching is also true of praying. When the messenger from God arrived to speak with Daniel, he assured the prophet that God had responded to his prayers because Daniel had set his heart to understand and to humble himself before his God. Daniel's spirit of humility made him a powerful force with God. As Proverbs reminds us, "Surely He scorns the scornful, but gives grace to the humble" (Prov. 3:34; cf. James 4:6; 1 Pet. 5:5).
A vital key to effective prayer is a humble spirit. Prayer moves the hand of God, but it must be humble prayer. We cannot enter God's presence with a list of demands or a detailed plan that we only want Him to bless. Instead, we must go with open hearts and open hands ready to receive whatever He knows is best for us. We must bow humbly before Him, willing to place ourselves at His disposal to meet His will, whatever that may be. That's the type of attitude that gets God's attention and response.
Consider your attitude in prayer. If you go with a grocery list to be filled or a sense that God somehow owes you an answer, you'll likely come away empty-handed. But if you come to Him recognizing that you do so only by His grace, unworthy to stand before His throne, and yet privileged to come through Christ, then you are ready to pray. Attitude is everything.
Only the humble can get God's ear.