At church our pastor has been doing a series called “Why” and this weeks word was titled, “Why doesn’t God answer my prayers?” I know that I have thought this exact thing many times. I think if we are all honest we’ve all asked this question. How many times have we asked God for something and think He must not be listening because we don’t see the answer we’re seeking? So often we think we know what we need…we think if God would just hear us, if He would just give us what we are praying for then it will all be ok. BUT His ways are not our ways…His thoughts are not our thoughts.
Pastor Tom spoke of four possibilities that answer this question…
1) Maybe there are broken relationships in our life. How can we ask God to move in our life and look past our sins if we hold hate in our heart for some one or if we are holding something against others.
Mark 11:24-25 New Living Translation (NLT)
24 I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours. 25 But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.”
2) Maybe you have the wrong motives. Despite the words that we say God knows our hearts and He knows our thoughts. He knows the true reason why we ask what we do and whether or not we will use what we ask for to bless Him. Are we asking for blessings to better ourselves? Why do we want to be blessed?
3) Maybe God has something different for you. This is a tough one. It’s so easy to think that we know what is best for us but really we have no clue. God created us perfect and in His image with a plan and dream for each of us. Only HE knows what is best for us…we need to pray to have things in according to His desires for us. His ways are not our ways…His thoughts are not our thoughts. He knows better than we do.
1 John 5:14-15 New International Version (NIV)
14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.
He also requires things from us. We have to be living in accordance to what He asks of us. Are we living a life that blesses Him? Are we forgiving others? Are we following His commandments? Pastor Tom compared it to us as parents. Do we give our children everything they ask for? No. But we still love them…very much…and it’s because we love them that we don’t give them everything they ask for. Also, when our children are misbehaving or being nasty to each other we often tell them that they cannot have special things or treatment until they can learn to be nice and kind. How is God any different? Psalm 66
4) Maybe you don’t believe God will do it. FAITH
How many times have we asked God for something SO big and after we say amen we are already doubting that He can do it. I am so guilty of this myself. I even said to some one recently, “I don’t doubt that God can do it, I KNOW He can, but how often do you see it happening?” Wow, shame on me. Lord forgive my unbelief! God can do BIG things…He is a BIG God! We need to have BIG faith!
Mark 9:21-24 New International Version (NIV)
21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” “From childhood,” he answered. 22 “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
I loved how Pastor Tom told this story…Jesus said, “IF?! I’m the Son of God, brother!” This father traveled to see Jesus…he knew all that He was capable of but he still had unbelief!
We must not doubt!
James 1:6-7 New International Version (NIV)
6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.
Temptation floods in when we wait. We have to stand strong and not let it distract us from continuing to seek Him!
I’m amazed and so thankful for how God confirms His words to us. This morning I opened my little devotional book called Jesus Calling by Sarah Young and read this:
"I am able to do far beyond all that you ask or imagine. Come to Me with positive expectations, knowing that there is no limit to what I can accomplish. Ask My Spirit to control your mind, so that you can think great thoughts of Me. Do not be discouraged by the fact that many of your prayers are yet unanswered. Time is a trainer, teaching you to wait upon Me, to trust Me in the dark. The more extreme your circumstances, the more likely you are to see My Power and Glory at work in the situation. Instead of letting the difficulties draw you into worrying, try to view them as setting the scene for My glorious intervention. Keep your eyes and your mind open wide to all that I am doing in your life."
God always answers our prayers! Sometimes the answer is yes, sometimes it’s no and sometimes it’s not yet. Regardless we must have FAITH! At the end of the word Pastor Tom said, “If you pray for strength, God may put you through trials to make you stronger. If you pray for Wisdom, He may give you problems to solve. If you pray for patience He may make you wait.” God doesn’t always answer how we expect but we must always believe!