Do we expect God to always answer our prayers? Have we ever had prayers that God didn’t answer and wondered why? Yes! Let’s discuss some of our struggles and what we’ve learned.
In Matthew 7:7 we have the example of God giving good gifts to His children. If our children ask us for something we also give them good things. But if our child asks for candy or cake right before dinner we tell them “no, not before dinner.” What do we mean by God answering our prayer? Technically you can say that God answers all our prayers, sometimes with a “yes”, sometimes with a “no” and sometimes with “wait”. So when we talk about answered prayer, do we mean that God answers our prayer only when we receive an immediate answer and get exactly what we want? We shouldn’t.
Reasons we might not get exactly what we ask for when we pray:
- Something separates us from God or we’re involved in doing evil. If so, God will hide His face from us and not hear our prayers. (Isaiah 59:1-2; 1 Peter 3:12)
- Our motives are wrong. We need to examine our motives and make sure they aren’t purely selfish. (James 4:3)
- Husbands- if we don’t treat our wives properly our prayers will be hindered. (1 Peter 3:7)
- Disobedience to God’s commandments in His Word (1 John 3:21-22)
- Asking God for something that contradicts His will (1 John 5:14)
- We may need to humble ourselves and turn away from sin and seek God’s face. (2 Chronicles 7:13-14)
Another aspect of this is the whole timing of our prayers. Our timing doesn’t always match God’s timing. That’s true more often than we realize. Does living a life of dependency on God and having faith in Him and His provision really work if I can control my own life? If I don’t need God then I don’t need to rely on Him. Where’s the faith and dependence in that situation? There isn’t any! Maybe then the purpose of our prayers shouldn’t be to expect God to give us everything we want or to solve all our problems but for us to spend more time with Him and experience His presence in a deeper way than we could otherwise experience.
We learned in Transformation Prayer that when we pray for someone else, God may not answer that prayer because He will not go against that person’s will or choices if they are different than what we are praying for. Learning that was a light bulb moment for us. Maybe God doesn’t answer our prayers when, even if by our own ignorance, we are counteracting our prayers by our own choices. God can still supersede our choices with His love and mercy and He sometimes does. But He is under no obligation to rescue us when we make choices that are literally killing us. With knowledge comes responsibility. Sometimes we just don’t have the knowledge.
Matthew 7:7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, when his sons asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!”
Isaiah 59:1-2 “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not so short that it cannot save; nor is His ear so dull that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.”
James 4:3 “You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.”
1 Peter 3:7 “You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.”
1 Peter 3:12 “For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and His ears attend to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
1 John 3:21-22 “Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.”
1 John 5:14-15 “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.”
2 Chronicles 7:13-14 “If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and forgive their sin and will heal their land.”