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“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23,24).

One element in true prayer is confession. I do not want Christian readers to think I am talking to the unsaved. I think we, as Christians, have a good many sins to confess.

If you go back to the Scripture records, you will find that the men who lived nearest to God, and had the most power with Him, were those who confessed their sins and failures. Job was no doubt a holy man, yet he had to fall in the dust and confess his sins. When Isaiah saw the purity and holiness of God, he beheld himself in his true light, and he exclaimed, “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips” (Isaiah 6:5). You will notice that when Daniel got that wonderful answer to prayer (Daniel 9), he was confessing his sin. It was when David said, “I have sinned!” that God dealt in mercy with him.

If we are regarding iniquity in our hearts, or living on a mere empty profession, we have no claim to expect that our prayers will be answered. It is well for us to search our hearts, and find out why it is that our prayers are not answered.

—Condensed from Prevailing Prayer by D. L. Moody.