4 Ways God Answers Prayer
Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done. Luke 22:42
How do you pray when your world is falling apart? Or do you stop praying and decide that God has ignored you or forgotten that you exist? I’ve been thinking about that very issue as I’ve answered some of the messages which have come to our office from people who are really hurting, but more than that, they have all but given up on God because they prayed for something, like winning the lottery, and it didn’t happen. Some have even contemplated suicide because the financial blessing they asked for didn’t materialize, or the burden of poor health wasn’t lifted.
Yes, you can dismiss the frustration of people who think about giving up when their world comes unraveled, but that doesn’t eliminate the pain or the loneliness which people feel.
Have we who are in positions of Christian leadership failed to make what the Bible says about prayer clear enough for people to grasp, or do people simply hear what they want to hear? Have we left the impression that prayer is like pulling the strings so that if you say the right words and have the right formula, you can get anything you want from God?
A well-known pastor tells about a formula he borrowed from someone else to explain why some prayers are unanswered. He says, “If the request is wrong, God says, ‘No.’ If the timing is wrong, God says, ‘Slow.’ If you are wrong, God says, ‘Grow,’ but if the request is right, the timing is right and you are right, God says, ‘Go!'”
Prayer is based on a relationship of the child with the Father. Paul explained that God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, who cries, ‘Abba, Father!’ That plea which rises from the heart of God’s child is prayer! It is just that simple. Prayer is not demanding things from God, or ordering him to send the golden spoon of wealth as you strike a deal with Him, telling Him about all the wonderful things you will do for God and His kingdom as soon as you bank the blessing. Prayer is simply asking the Father in simple, child-like faith to meet us at the point of our need.
A loving Father answers our requests based upon His knowledge, which far surpasses ours, and His understanding of our need, which is much different from our perception of that need.
God does hear and answer the faintest plea of His child, but the answers are far deeper than our human understanding. Simply put, God answers four ways. 1. Some answers are direct. Seemingly, the request and the answer move along in parallel channels. That’s the way we like prayer. We ask and immediately receive what we’ve asked for. Frankly, God often gives those kinds of answers to new believers so they understand He is the Almighty and His power knows no limits.
Again, 2. Some answers are delayed. Here it is a matter of timing, and God answers on His timetable, not ours.
3. Some answers are disguised. We ask for something and then later, look back and recognize how God answered–but His answer was different from our request, and we recognize how much better His answer was.
4. Finally, some answers are denied. He loves you too much to give you everything you ask for. I’ve lived long enough to be able to look back and say, “Thank you, Father, that you said ‘No’ to some of my requests.” Father does know best, and you can trust Him for His best in your life.
Resource reading: John 17:1-26