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August 2007

Does God Always Answer Prayer? - 2

Does God Always Answer Prayer?

A four-year-old boy prayed, "Forgive us our trash baskets (trespasses) as we forgive those who put trash in our baskets." He may have used different words, but I think he had the right idea. God will always answer "yes" to a sincere prayer of repentance.

Let us consider why God sometimes answers "yes" to our prayers and at other times "wait awhile."

SOME THINGS GOD ALWAYS SAYS "YES" TO.

  1. God loves to hear the prayer: "What must I do to be saved?" In Acts 4:12, we are told, "Salvation comes through one name only, Jesus Christ our Lord." Acts 2:27 says, "And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
  2. When we ask God to guide us and to help us do His will in every aspect of our life. He will faithfully do so as He has promised in Proverbs 3:5,6: "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths."
  3. Another prayer request He loves to say "yes" to is when we ask Him to help us win souls to Christ, and also to help those in need.

The "yes" part of prayer is best summed up in 1 John 5:14,15; "This is the assurance 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."

WHEN GOD SAYS WAIT!

How many of us like waiting in line at the supermarket, the bank, the post office, or waiting at a stop light behind an accelerator-challenged driver who, when the light turns green, just sits there and before you know it, the light turns red again! That's when I wish I had a Hummer so I could give him a bit of a nudge (Just a little one!). Many of us don't like waiting too long for anything! However, most christians have spent time in God's waiting room.

Let us look at a few reasons why God sometimes says "Wait!"

  1. Perhaps we are asking for something "not according to His will". If our hearts are fully surrendered to Him, the Holy Spirit will lead us to continue in prayer and in the reading of God's Word. Yes, our answer may not be there in detail, but God's law, His teachings and principles are there through which the Holy Spirit makes clear the will of God.
  2. Perhaps He can see that we lack the maturity to handle a quick "yes." It's like when teenagers want to get their driver's license before they are mature enough to handle the responsibility that comes with driving. As sensible parents, we say no, wait awhile, not because we don't love them, but because we do love them. It's the same with God, only more so. I like what Ben Patterson says on this point: "What God does in us while we wait, is as important as what we are waiting for."
  3. We must have faith. James 1:6-8; "But when He asks, He must believe and not doubt, because He who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think He will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all He does."

Faith in God's Word, and obedience to God's Word are two of the most important ingredients in our prayer life. Hebrews 10:38 says: "That My righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him." Romans 10:17 says: "Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ." So, once again, the Bible tells us that faith comes by HEARING, BELIEVING AND OBEYING God's Word!

As we read about the lives of people in the Bible who did great things for God, we see that it was because of their strong faith which came about from their hearing, believing and obedience. This was why Daniel didn't spend the night walking around the lions den biting his nails. No, he made a pillow out of his coat, said a prayer that God's will be done, and went to sleep. Let's look at his three friends in Daniel 3: 17, 18. Shradrach, Meshach and Abednego were about to be thrown into the blazing furnace by King Nebuchadnezzar because they had determined to always put God first before any earthly monarch. They said to the King, "The God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if He does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."

Such a faith was not born overnight, but rather resulted from a life that daily trusted and obeyed God's Word.

May God help us to have that kind of faith!

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