Do they even work? Does God even care? Does God hear? Does God answer?
Followers of Jesus know that prayer is supposed to be one of our daily practices of our faith.
But do we really believe prayer works? Do we really believe that God answers our prayers?
God absolutely answers all prayer.
God may not answer all prayer in the way we want them answered, or in the time that we want them answered.
But God always answers prayers.
Here are the four ways that God answers prayer.
- If the request is wrong, God will say, “No”. No is a legitimate answer. We say no all the time. When our request is wrong, God will say, “No.”
- God, can I have a million dollars? I would like to buy a bunch a new toys.
- God, I would like ______ to fall in love with me.
- God, I would like for you to smite all my enemies!
- If the timing is not right, God will say, “Wait.” There may be times when the request is right, but the timing may not be right. In those cases, God’s answer is “Wait”.
- I have a ten year old boy. If he were to ask me if he can drive, the answer is wait. It’s not a forever “No” because I fully expect him to drive when he turns 16. But it would be totally irresponsible for me to allow him to drive when he’s 10.
- When the timing is not right, God’s answer is “Wait.”
- If I am not right, God’s answer to my prayer is “Grow.”
- God, I want to be a leader of a mega-enterprise for your kingdom.
- The prayer and the request may be God-honoring and good. However, if I am not ready, if I am not mature enough to handle the pressures of leading such an enterprise, God cannot answer the prayer in the way I want them answered.
- When I am not right, God will answer my prayer with, “James, grow.”
- If the request is right, the timing is right, and I am right, God will say, “GO!!!”
- God absolutely loves to answer prayers.
- God delights in seeing his children live fully into his kingdom vision.
Here’s the thing about prayer. For the most part, the way we practice prayer is as if God were a genie. Most of our prayer times consist of us saying a bunch of stuff to God…mostly, telling God what we want done. And then when we’re done telling God what we want done in our world, we end it with an Amen and go about our day.
But don’t you think, if we’re genuinely asking God about things, and we pray because we believe God hears and answers our prayers, that we ought to spend as much time listening for God’s voice and guidance?