“Can you hear me now?” Have you ever felt like saying that to God? Have you ever thought the communication lines between you and God were broken? When God doesn’t seem to answer your prayers, have you wondered if He is listening? Worse yet, maybe He is listening but His answer to your prayer request is no. In John 14:14 it is written “If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it.” How should we reconcile this verse against what appears to us as unanswered prayers? When we cry out to God and nothing seems to happen, what are we to do? Please read more…
Without question, there are many verses in the Bible that tell us to pray, and furthermore they tell us to trust that God listens to and answers our prayers. Let’s take a look.
“Jesus said to them in reply, “Have faith in God. Amen, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it shall be done for him. Therefore I tell you, all that you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours. When you stand to pray, forgive anyone against whom you have a grievance, so that your heavenly Father may in turn forgive you your transgressions.”
“Now this is how we shall know that we belong to the truth and reassure our hearts before him in whatever our hearts condemn, for God is greater than our hearts and knows everything. Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence in God and receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.”
“And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it.”
“And we have this confidence in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”
“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.”
These are powerful promises, yet nearly everyone has prayed to God for something that turned out differently than what they prayed for. So, what gives? When we pray over someone who is sick and they still die, we ask why. When we collectively pray for world peace and peace doesn’t come, we ask why. When we pray for an end to poverty and yet people die from starvation, we ask why. When we ask God for a job promotion and we don’t get it, we ask why. When we ask God to heal our heart crushed by grief and that healing doesn’t come, we ask why. When we ask God to remove an addiction and it never goes away, we ask why. This list could go on and on.
I don’t pretend to have the answers to these profound questions of faith. I often have my own questions about unanswered prayers. After reflecting on this topic, I have made these observations. God is not our magic genie nor is He our personal concierge or our personal problem fixer. God does not exist to serve us. We exist to serve Him.
There are some key concepts of prayer in the verses above. In the first passage, we are taught to see ourselves as sinners in need of mercy when we come before God in prayer. In the second passage, we are told that we can have confidence in God if we are keeping His commandments and doing what pleases Him. In the third passage, we are taught to pray for those things that bring glory to God. In the fourth passage, we learn that we should pray for things that are in line with God’s will. Finally, in the last passage we learn the importance of remaining in God’s word when we pray.
In the end, our prayer life needs three very important ingredients: faith, hope, and trust. We must place our faith in Jesus, we must never give up hope that He will hear our prayers, and we must have relentless trust that God knows our needs better than we do, (Matthew 6:8)
These words from the beautifully powerful song, Even If, by MercyMe, speak to the level of hope we must have in our prayer. (Click to listen © 2017 MercyMe)
They say it only takes a little faith
To move a mountain
Well good thing
A little faith is all I have, right now
But God, when You choose
To leave mountains unmovable
Oh give me the strength to be able to sing
It is well with my soul
I know You’re able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone
Songwriters: Bart Millard / Ben Glover / Crystal Lewis / David Garcia / Tim Timmons
I often pray the following prayer. I think it encapsulates all the key principals of a good prayer.
(You can click the link above for a printable copy of this prayer.)
O Lord hear my cry pouring out from a troubled heart. The sorrow which clutches at my soul has driven me to You my protector, my True Friend in time of need. You know, my God, all my failings, my faults and my sins as well as the torment gripping my soul. My greatest sorrow should be for my disregard of Your holy commandments in the past, and I sincerely hope that you will grant me the grace of true contrition. O my Savior, hide not Your Face from me in this tribulation, let the light of Your Countenance shine upon me that I may be illuminated by Its love. If it be Your will, lighten this burden from me, yet should it be a means of my salvation, help me, help me O Lord, to carry this cross, for alone I can do nothing. Radiate Your love upon Your prodigal child O Lord, this beggar who knocks at Your door seeking shelter in Your Sacred Heart; this once proud earthen vessel made of clay seeks You, O Christ, and in a newly found faith, firmly believes that you will receive him in Your limitless Love and Mercy. Amen
In conclusion, I know it can be disheartening when it seems God doesn’t hear or answer our prayers, but we must continue to pray without ceasing, align our prayers to God’s will, and have unending trust that God knows what is best for us.
Heavenly Father, help me to always keep the words of Romans 8:28 in my heart. “We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.”
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