Prayer for God’s Will To Be Done
Why Does God Wait to Answer Prayer?
Why would God wait to answer our prayers? Wouldn’t we expect that since God is all-powerful that He would answer immediately? What is the purpose for God’s delaying our prayer requests?
Outside of God’s Will
One reason that God may not answer our prayers or that He waits is that we are asking for the wrong thing. We may be asking for something that is not in God’s will for our lives and we might be asking for selfish reasons.
James, the half-brother of Jesus wrote, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures”(James 4:3).
For example, if we ask for money and we are not already giving to our local church or we have not been helping the poor, why should God give us more money so that we might spend it on ourselves? Also, we might have the wrong motives in asking for something.If we ask for a better job, the job that we think would be better may actually be worse than the job we have now. God is sovereign and He knows what is best, and holds our best interests in mind for our future (Jer. 29:11).
In the Lord’s Prayer, we are to ask that His will be done on earth just as it is in heaven (Matt 6:10). We know that God’s will for believers is to grow in grace and knowledge, so we can ask for spiritual understanding of His Word just before we read the Bible.
There is confidence in praying when we know His will for out lives as it says in I John 5:14-15, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.”
We must remember to pray with faith.
When we pray, we may have serious doubts about God’s ability or willingness to answer our prayer.
James 12:6-7 indicates that if we pray in doubt, God will not honor our requests saying, “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.” God may be waiting for us to pray in real faith, in expectation of receiving an answer, or to see if we are serious enough to continue to pray for it.
Sin Stops Prayer From Being Answered
God will not answer the prayer of a believer if they are in a state of perpetual, unrepentant sin (I Pet. 3:12). Psalm 66:18 is clear that “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.
“ If we are obedient, He will hear our prayers (John 15:7) but if we are unforgiving, He will refuse our petitions before His altar (Matt. 18:35).
Matthew 5:24 is says that when we fail to forgive others, this is cause for a failed request for His help, “leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.”
Prayer is Answered in God’s Timing
God also expects us to wait patiently on His perfect timing (Psalm 66:18). In Hebrews 10:36, “For you have need of patience, that, after you have done the will of God, you might receive the promise.
” The minor prophet, Habakkuk speaks for all of us when he grew impatient in waiting for God to answer his request in 1:2, “How long, LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen?” I can most certainly identify with Habakkuk in his sentiments.
Psalm 37 is a great Psalm to read when you are seeking the desires of your heart with the realization that it may take some time. Read these key verses from Psalm 37 on waiting:
7 “Rest before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not worry when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.“
25 “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.”
34 “Wait for the LORD and keep his way. He will exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are cut off, you will see it.”
Sometimes the desires of our heart take time. They do not happen overnight. God is most often at work when He appears to be the most silent.
Even though Daniel had to wait three weeks before his prayer was answered, God had actually answered his prayer that very day that he prayed.Don’t think that since God does not immediately reveal to you His answer, that He has not answered it and has not answered it right away.
Daniel had his prayer answered the very same day of his request but it took three weeks for God’s sovereign timing for it to reach him – and it did at exactly the right time, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them”(10:12).
Stories of Waiting For Prayer To Be Answered
Don’t ever give up on praying. God shows us that persistence pays off in Luke 18:1-8, “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought.
And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ “For some time he refused.
But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’” And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says.
And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly.
However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” The point of this parable is that if we continue steadfastly in prayer God will honor that persistence. Never give up on praying because God may be waiting to see if it is important enough to us to continue in prayer, day and night, day after day.
I heard the story of a faithful mother who had been praying for 28 years for her son to come to faith in Christ. Year after year her son was rebellious. He abused drugs, was in and jail, and showed no signs of ever knowing Christ.
The days and years dragged on with absolutely no indication that there was anything different in the man‘s life. Then one day, 28 years after his mother first prayed for him, this man came to a saving faith in Christ.Today this man, Terry Williams, uses his testimony to help other prison inmates find their way to a relationship with the only One Who can save: Jesus Christ.
What if this mother had given up? What if she decided it was not important enough to keep praying each and every day? What a difference this mother made in her steadfast prayers due to her undying love for her son. Today her son is making an eternal difference for others in prison. This was all due to prayer. Even though she had to wait
Another article you might be interested in:
Does God Answer The Prayers of Unbelievers?
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Does God Answer Our Prayers?
By Marilyn Adamson
Click above to watch video
Have you ever known someone who really trusts God? When I was an atheist, I had a good friend who prayed often. She would tell me every week about something she was trusting God to take care of.
And every week I would see God do something unusual to answer her prayer.
Do you know how difficult it is for an atheist to observe this week after week? After a while, “coincidence” begins to sound a very weak argument.
So why would God answer my friend's prayers? The biggest reason is that she had a relationship with God. She wanted to follow God. And she actually listened to what he said.
In her mind, God had the right to direct her in life, and she welcomed him doing just that! When she prayed for things, it was a natural part of her relationship with God. She felt very comfortable coming to God with her needs, her concerns, and whatever issues were current in her life.
Furthermore, she was convinced, from what she read in the Bible, that God wanted her to rely on him that.
She pretty much exhibited what this statement from the Bible says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”1 “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer…”2
So, Why Doesn't God Answer Everyone's Prayers?
It may be because they don't have a relationship with God. They may know that God exists, and they might even worship God from time to time. But those who never seem to have their prayers answered probably don't have a relationship with him.
Further, they have never received from God complete forgiveness for their sin. What does that have to do with it you ask? Here is an explanation. “Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God.
Your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.”3
It's pretty natural to feel that separation from God. When people begin to ask God for something, what usually takes place? They begin with, “God, I really need your help with this problem…” And then there's a pause, followed by a restart… “I realize that I'm not a perfect person, that I actually have no right to ask you for this…
” There's an awareness of personal sin and failure. And the person knows that it's not just them; that God is aware of it too. There's a feeling of, “Who am I kidding?” What they may not know is how they can receive God's forgiveness for all their sin. They might not know that they can come into a relationship with God so that God will hear them.
This is the foundation for God answering your prayer.
How Does Prayer Work?
You must first begin a relationship with God. Here's why. Imagine that a guy named Mike asks the president of Princeton University to co-sign a car loan for him.
If Mike doesn't personally know the president of Princeton, that car loan is not going to happen.
Yet, if the daughter of this president asked her dad to co-sign a car loan for her, it would be no problem. Relationship matters.
With God, when the person is actually a child of God, when the person belongs to God, he knows them and hears their prayers. Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep and my sheep know me…my sheep listen to my voice. I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them my hand.”4
When it comes to God then, do you really know him and does he know you? Do you have a relationship with him that warrants God answering your prayers? Or is God pretty distant, pretty much just a concept in your life? If God is distant, or you're not sure that you know God, here is how you can begin a relationship with him right now: Getting Connected.
Will God Definitely Answer Your Prayer?
For those who do know him and rely on him, Jesus seems to be wildly generous in his offer: “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.”5 To “remain” in him and have his words remain in them means they conduct their lives aware of him, relying on him, listening to what he says.
Then they're able to ask him whatever they want. Here is another qualifier: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us — whatever we ask — we know that we have what we asked of him.
“6 God answers our prayers according to his will (and according to his wisdom, his love for us, his holiness, etc.).
Where we trip up is assuming we know God's will, because a certain thing makes sense to us! We assume that there is only one right “answer” to a specific prayer, assuming certainly THAT would be God's will. And this is where it gets tough. We live within the limits of time and limits of knowledge.We have only limited information about a situation and the implications of future action on that situation. God's understanding is unlimited. How an event plays out in the course of life or history is only something he knows. And he may have purposes far beyond what we could even imagine.
So, God is not going to do something simply because we determine that it must be his will.
What Does It Take? What is God Inclined to Do?
Pages and pages could be filled about God's intentions toward us. The entire Bible is a description of the kind of relationship God wants us to experience with him and the kind of life he wants to give us. Here are just a few examples:
“…the Lord longs to be gracious to you. He rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for [trust] him!”7 Did you catch that? someone rising his chair to come to your help, “He rises to show you compassion.” “As for God, his way is perfect…
He is a shield for all who take refuge in him.”8 “The Lord delights in those who fear [reverence] him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.”9
However, God's greatest display of his love and commitment to you is this: Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends,”10 which is what Jesus did for us. And so, “If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since God did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won't God, who gave us Christ, also give us everything else?”11
What about “Unanswered” Prayer?
Certainly people get sick, even die; financial problems are real, and all sorts of very difficult situations can come up. What then?
God tells us to give our concerns to him. Even as the situation remains dismal, “Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.”12 The circumstances may look control, but they aren't. When the whole world seems to be falling apart, God can keep us together. This is when a person can be very grateful that they know God.
“The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
“13 God may provide solutions, resolutions to the problem WAY beyond what you imagined possible. Probably any Christian could list examples this in their own lives. But if the circumstances do not improve, God can still give us his peace in the midst of it.
Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”14It is at this point (when circumstances are still tough) that God asks us to continue to trust him — to “walk by faith, not by sight” the Bible says. But it's not blind faith. It is the very character of God.
A car traveling on the Golden Gate Bridge is fully supported by the integrity of the bridge. It doesn't matter what the driver may be feeling, or thinking about, or discussing with someone in the passenger seat.
What gets the car safely to the other side is the integrity of the bridge, which the driver was willing to trust.
In the same way, God asks us to trust his integrity, his character…his compassion, love, wisdom, righteousness on our behalf. He says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.”15 “Trust in him at all times, O people. Pour out your heart before him. God is a refuge for us.”16
God has offered to answer the prayers of his children (those who have received him into their lives and seek to follow him). He asks us to take any concerns to him in prayer and he will act upon it according to his will.
As we deal with difficulties we are to cast our cares on him and receive from him a peace that defies the circumstances. The basis for our hope and faith is the character of God himself.
The better we know him, the more apt we are to trust him.
For more on the character of God, please see “Who is God?” or other articles on this site. The reason we pray is God's character. The first prayer God answers is your prayer to begin a relationship with God.
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Footnotes: (1) 1 John 5:14 (2) 1 Peter 3:12 (3) Isaiah 59:1,2 (4) John 10:14,27-28 (5) John 15:7 (6) 1 John 5:14,15 (7) Isaiah 30:18 (8) Psalms 18:30 (9) Psalms 147:11 (10) John 15:13 (11) Romans 8:32 (12) 1 Peter 5:7 (13) Philippians 4:5-7 (14) John 14:27 (15) Jeremiah 31:3 (rsv) (16) Psalms 62:8
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