Why Some Prayers Are Not Answered
As you continue to read your Bible, many questions are bound to arise in your mind. And no wonder! For the truth is so limitless that no- one can hope to compass it in our brief period of life. Occasionally you may stumble on an answer accidentally, but usually it has to be searched for with diligence. One such question concerns prayer. Perhaps you have asked about it yourself. If God is the God I love, why doesn't He answer all my prayers?
There is no doubt about God's willingness to answer: "Call unto me and I will answer", He says (Jer 33:3). Again, "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you; for everyone that asketh receiveth, and he that seeketh findeth, and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened" (Matt 7:7,8). Nor is there any doubt about God's ability to answer. He is "able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think" (Eph 3:20).
Nevertheless, it is clearly evident from everybody's experience, that some prayers are not directly answered, Why? Are there any conditions attached to prayer? There are indeed. Here are several:
1. You must have faith. "Whatever you ask in prayer you will receive, if you have faith" (Matt 21:22). You must believe that God is able to do what you ask Him to do. Without faith it is impossible to please Him. "For whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him" (Heb 11:6).
2. You must be thankful. "Have no anxiety about anything but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God" (Phil 4:6). `Thanksgiving' connotes a worshipful state of mind, which is as important as believing in God's power to help.
3. You must be at one with God. Jesus says: "If you abide in me, and my word abides in you, ask whatever you will and it shall be done for you" (John 15:7). This has the same meaning as: "The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous and His ears are open unto their cry" (Ps 34:15). Identification with God's righteous purposes is essential.
4. You must be resigned to His will. "This is the confidence which we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us" (1 John 5:14). Jesus set the supreme example in Gethsemane when he prayed "O my father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless, not as I will but as thou wilt ... thy will be done" (Matt 26:39-42). As it is God's will that ultimately will be done, it is but wise and reasonable to yield to His will before you pray.
5. You must be patient. Says David: "I waited for the Lord, and He inclined unto me, and heard my cry" (Ps 10:1). Again, "I wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord" (Ps 27:14). If all your prayers were answered immediately under the urgency of your pleading, you would probably become disillusioned. Human vision is so limited that it is always wisest to wait for God to answer as and when His wisdom may deem best.
6. You must cherish no sinful desire. The Psalmist says: "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me" (Ps 66 18).
A Brother (Nalondo, Kenya)