This question is frequently asked by many people. The answer is very simple. The explanation is enlightening.
God does answer your prayers
The answer is that God does answer your prayer. He answers every prayer. I told you the answer was simple.
Now I will explain. When people say God did not answer their prayer, they mean that He did not grant their prayer.
But God knows everything and hears everything, and He is able to do anything. He knew what you were going to ask for before you prayed. He knew what His answer would be before you prayed. Whether your request is granted or not, your prayer is answered.
Sometimes His answer is no, not yet. Other times His answer is no until a condition is met. Sometimes He requires persistence. Sometimes He requires fasting. And sometimes He requires both. At other times, He may require a group request.
His answer is always His will
If you have a good relationship with the Lord, then you know that His will is what you really want. You know that when you pray, you are not asking God to do your will. You are asking Him to grant your request if it is His will.
When you ask God to grant your request only if it is His will, then He will grant every prayer. And you will rejoice regardless of His answer, knowing that it is His will. You will rejoice because His answer, His will, is ultimately what you want.
How to rejoice in every answer
After Paul explained that He asked God to remove an affliction from his life, he said in 2 Corinthians 12:8-10,
“For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”
God told Paul no. He would not remove Paul’s difficulty. And Paul rejoiced. Why? He received the answer he wanted. He received God’s will.
Praying for God’s will to be done is not telling Him what to do. It is seeking to know His will. You will never be disappointed in His answer if you know that it is His will. You will rejoice because doing His will is your real request.
The reason to rejoice in every answer
God will grant the prayers of those who pray correctly as long as the requests do not interfere with God’s ultimate goal. In Romans 8:28, Paul writes,
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
Everything God does will fulfill His purpose. Every answer He gives to every prayer will fulfill His purpose. Therefore, you can rejoice in every answer, knowing that every answer from God fulfills God’s ultimate goal.
God’s ultimate goal in every answer
First Timothy 2:4 proclaims God’s ultimate will and purpose.
“Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”
To God, there is nothing more important than saving souls. There is nothing more important than doing everything possible to prevent their condemnation.
Second Peter 3:9 explains why God wants everyone to be saved.
“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
God wants to bless us. He desires for everyone to be eternally blessed. This is His ultimate goal. There is nothing more important. Any soul that is condemned with eternal death is the greatest tragedy. This tragedy is forever. And there is nothing in all of creation and time that is worse than this condemnation. This is the reason God’s greatest and ultimate purpose is to save souls.
God’s purpose sometimes requires suffering
Luke 19:10 says of Jesus’ purpose,
“For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
Jesus came to save souls. His purpose cost Him His life. He suffered and died because His ultimate purpose required it.
God’s answer for you fulfills His purpose
God uses every means possible to save souls. This includes involving those He has saved. God expects them to participate in His purpose as His representatives. Second Corinthians 5:17-20 explains the life purpose every Christian should have in mind.
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.”
If you are saved, God has fulfilled His ultimate purpose for your life. Now He wants you to participate in fulfilling His purpose for others. He will answer every one of your prayers with this one ultimate purpose in mind.
Answers without understanding
You may not be able to understand how some of God’s answers fulfill His purpose, but you can know that His answers are fulfilling His purpose. And His answers may not result in your immediate blessings, but you know that His answers always fulfill His ultimate purpose for eternal blessings.
As I mentioned before, God’s ultimate purpose required Jesus to suffer and die on the cross. If Jesus, as God’s only begotten Son, was not spared harm in order to fulfill His ultimate purpose, then we should not complain if His answer requires our suffering too.
The apostles of Christ suffered. Hebrews 11:36-37 says many who believed and followed God suffered.
“And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented.”
Accepting answers that deny requests
In Romans 8:18, Paul explains the perspective to have about suffering in this life.
“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”
I know this is not what most people would like to hear. But it explains why God answers our prayers the way He does. Sometimes His answers require denial and suffering.
Pray to avoid suffering
We would not request suffering. And we have good reason to ask God to spare us from suffering.
God does not want us to suffer. He loves us and desires to deliver us from all suffering. But living in this world of sin means that suffering should be expected. Jesus had to suffer in order that eternal good could happen.
Jesus told us to pray to be delivered from evil. So we can ask Him to deliver us from suffering. But we should always understand that the ultimate goal is to save souls. Obviously, from the examples of Jesus, the apostles, and others, suffering is part of living in this world.
Suffering is unavoidable in a world of sin
Only God can see how best to answer a prayer. Only God can see the infinite number of possible paths resulting from every choice and every answer. And He will always choose the path that saves the maximum number of souls.
In a world of sin, people make choices that cause harm, whether the choices are intentional or unintentional. In addition, Satan is influencing the direction of our cultures, and this results in predictable suffering.
God calculates the choices made by people in order to answer prayer requests. The choices of people are often wrong and harmful. God does not cause harm. Sin and Satan cause the suffering. God navigates through the infinite possible paths of choices to achieve His main goal–save the maximum number of souls.
Prayers of the faithful denied
It is possible to be right with God and yet to not be granted your request. The Apostle Paul, for example, was denied his request mentioned earlier, and he suffered while serving the Lord. In 2 Corinthians 11:23-27, Paul writes about his sufferings.
“… in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.”
Prayers of sin denied
King David said in Psalm 66:18,
“If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.”
As I already explained above, saying that the Lord will not hear means that God will not honor or respond to those prayers. This is His answer. It is one way in which He says no.
If you are in rebellion, you are rejecting His will for your life. This means that you prefer doing things your way. Since you have made this choice, God lets you do things your own way and solve your own problems. If you are going to insist on doing things your own way, don’t think that God is going to help you. He will help you if you change your mind and believe that He is right and that His way is the best way. Otherwise, you are on your own.
It is unreasonable to reject God on the one hand, and then expect Him to do something for you on the other. Why should He? And why bother asking Him to do you a favor when you choose to reject Him?
When you decide to do things your way, to sin, to reject His commands, and then expect Him to grant your requests, you are attempting to make God your slave. You are making yourself God and expecting Him to serve you. This thinking is backwards. It is wrong. God will not grant your requests if you think this way.
Rejoicing when God does not answer
Next time God “does not answer” your prayer request, rejoice. Rejoice that His will has been done. Rejoice for receiving the answer that will result in the maximum number of saved souls.
If you are going to complain, complain about sin and Satan. Question why people keep choosing to reject God and to disobey Him. Question why people would choose the way that leads to eternal death and suffering rather than eternal life and blessings.
Rejoice in God’s answers to every one of your prayers. Pray for wisdom to understand the answers and to appreciate the answers.
Changing your life for good
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Ask God to teach you more about prayer. And search for more articles in my blog for more insights into prayer.
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