by Matt Slick
People ask me why God doesn't answer their prayers. They believe in God and Jesus as the Messiah. They put their faith and hope and trust in him. Then, there might be a particular need, or problem, or health issue and they pray and ask God for his intervention and nothing seems to happen. Is God there? Is he ignoring them? Is there something wrong with their prayers?
But the truth is, God answers all of our prayers. He just doesn't always answer them the way we would like. Basically, His answers are yes, no, and wait.
A lot of times God will directly and quickly answers our prayer in the affirmative. He will arrange circumstances in which we are assisted, problems are taking care of, we are healed, finances improve, etc. When this happens we are delighted. God loves us! But, if God doesn't answer the way we want, does it mean He doesn't love us? Of course not.
But then, sometimes we don't thank him for answering prayer and at other times we consider the solution something that we made happen and not God. But, we have to be careful and not attribute to our own ability a solution as an answer to prayer, where in actuality it is God who has given us the ability to solve the problem. So, always give him the glory.
Then there are times when God most definitely does not give us what we want because ultimately it's not his will. God has a plan for us and it can be so sophisticated that if you were to answer a particular request in the affirmative, it might, so to speak, mess up the overall plan God has for us in the future. Also, God might not want to answer our prayers in the affirmative because what we are asking is sinful. Maybe we want a new car not because we need it, but because we simply want it. Maybe we want a better job not because we desire to further the kingdom with more money, but because we want to have a bigger TV. Our motivation is important in prayer and God knows our hearts as well as our needs. He balances these things for our benefit. After all, the Scripture says
- Psalm 66:18, "If I regard wickedness in my heart, The Lord will 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."
There are also times when God wants us to wait before prayers answered. We might ask for something to happen, for a solution to be given and for God to answer in the affirmative means that we have to be patient as we wait for Him to work out the answer. But, unfortunately, we often become impatient and think that because an answer didn't come quickly that God is not answering this at all. But, the fact is that sometimes the answers to our prayers take a while to manifest.
Prayer is an interesting thing. What we are doing in it is dwelling in the presence of God and asking Him to help us, or save someone, or help someone, etc. And because we are typically shortsighted in that we do not see the overall picture, sometimes we think that because we don't get what we ask for, we might hold it against God and assume He does not love us or that maybe not even listening. But this is dangerous because it puts our personal feelings above the will of God and can lead us astray. The fact is that we must have faith in God and realize that were asking for his will to be accomplished not our own.
- Hebrews 11:6, "And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him."
- Philippians 4:6–7, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Being in His Will
Let's say there is a large river that's flowing and that river represents the will of God. What a lot of us want to do is run alongside the river on our own path and occasionally dip into the river when it suits us. Sometimes our own path leads us away from that river and sometimes closer to it. I like to think of not walking along the path, but jumping into the river and being carried along in the will of God. That way, I am being taken where the will of God wants me to go and my prayers will reflect being in His will, not outside of it, running along my own path, my own desires all the while hoping that the will of God in mine coincide.
- Luke 22:42, saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.”"
- 1 John 5:14, "This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us."
So, we can say that sometimes God answers our prayers with a definite yes, sometimes with a clear no, and sometimes He wants us to wait. God is not our servant and our prayers to Him, though often heartfelt and needful, must always be submitted to His ultimate sovereign will. Just as Jesus submitted to the will the Father and though He did not want to go through the crucifixion, he chose to do so anyway (Luke 22:42) because it was the will of God. Therefore, we too should always seek to accomplish the will of God even if it's hard for us to accept and not always what we want.