Why doesn’t God answer my prayers? Does God even hear me? Is my faith strong enough? At some point every Christian has or will ask those questions.
There are numerous scripture passages about God answering prayers. Mark 11:24, “Therefore I say unto you, what things so ever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” John 15:7, “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” Matthew 21:22, “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” I could go on, but you understand the idea.
“…we know not what we should pray for as we ought:” (Rom. 8:26). What confuses us Christians as we try our best to maintain our faith and walk closer with Christ can actually be the answer to our prayers.
We pray for patience, and our Father sends those who get on our very last nerve; for “tribulation worketh patience.”
We pray for submission, and God sends sufferings; for “we learn obedience by the things we suffer.” “Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.”
We pray for strength and humility, and your boss lays into you for something with which you had absolutely nothing to do and all you can do is stand there and take it because “by humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life.”
We pray for “a servant’s heart” and are given a portion of lowly service, or we are injured and must seek no redress; for “he was led as a lamb to the slaughter and… opened not his mouth.”
We pray, “Lord, increase my faith,” and financial issues suddenly pull the rug out from under you; or your children or wife develops a serious illness; or a subordinate makes an expensive mistake. Unknown trials call for an increase of faith along a line where we have not needed to exercise much faith before.
Often God purposely delays His answer, and that delay is just as much an answer to your prayer as is the fulfillment when it comes. This “delay” in answering prayers was often God’s M.O. in the lives of all the great biblical Saints. Abraham, Moses and Elijah were not great in the beginning, but were made great through the discipline of their faith, and only thus were they fitted for the positions to which God had called them.
In Genesis, Joseph was sold into slavery by his own brothers, was falsely accused of rape by the wife of the king and thrown in jail, but ultimately Joseph became King of Egypt and was able to save his own family from a famine. You can only imagine the prayers Joseph prayed during those years, the discipline to keep his faith and the patience (there’s that word again) it took before receiving his blessing.
Faith is not just believing in God, but it is discipline that must be practiced and maintained – and often times tested. And it may be further on down the road before the “victory of faith” is revealed or experienced. One’s moral fiber is developed through discipline of faith. You have made your request of God, but the answer does not come. What you may perceive is an unanswered prayer or just a flat-out no is part of this testing. Keep on believing God’s Word; be patient (notice how that word keeps popping up). The Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 12:12 – “[Rejoice] in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;” and as you continue in this patience, spiritual strength and discipline is being forged. The fact of looking at the apparent contradiction as to God’s Word and maintaining your position of faith makes you stronger in every other aspect in your life as well. The way to peace and victory is to accept every circumstance, every trial, straight from the hand of a loving Father as being divinely appointed, because it is! Look at it this way: there are basically four ways God answers prayers. Either “Yes” or “No;” “Yes, but not just yet;” or “No, but wait until you see what I have for you instead.” Your discipline, patience and your strong faith will be what brings you to Victory.
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