Pure motives. Job said his prayers were sincere: He was honestly seeking answers from God without ulterior motives. He was not lying to God; his heart was clean (see Job 6:28).
One of the temptations of prayer is self-gratification. We are inclined to ask repeatedly for things we want, not just things we need. The line between selfish and unselfish prayer is often fuzzy. Scrutinizing our motives can help sort through self-deceit.
Confession is a prerequisite to sincere prayers. Jesus taught us not to pray if we are carrying a grudge. The psalmist wrote that if there is sin in our hearts, God will not hear us (see Ps 66:18). Cleaning up unfinished business involving offenses against family or fellow workers clears the conscience so we can pray with purer motives.
We’ll never be able to fully evaluate every prayer we pray. Motives are like mercury; getting a grip on them is next to impossible. But God’s people are not left alone. Asking the Holy Spirit to search our hearts puts us on the right track (see Ps 139:23–24). The Holy Spirit promises to work on our behalf while we seek God in prayer (see Ro 8:26–27).