4 Ways God Answers Prayer
As followers of Christ, we believe that God answers prayer. God promises us in Isaiah 65:24 that “Before they call I will answer, while they are yet speaking I will hear.” Since this is true, why does it feel like our prayers go answered sometimes.
First of all, to say our prayers go unanswered is a lie meant to keep you from praying. Matter of fact, God always answers prayer. Simply, the answer may not be what you wanted to hear. Even when you think otherwise, God is always listening, and He always answers.
If God always answers prayers, how does He answer?
In this post, you’ll discover the 4 ways God answers prayer.
God Says Yes
Of course, the first way God answers prayer is to say yes to what we ask. Now, this is the answer we’re hoping for. It’s the easy answer.
You pray. God hears and he answers. Just like that.
For example, you may be in a financial crisis. The utility bills are due the next day, and you don’t have the money. If you don’t pay it, then your utilities are going to be cut off. So, you pray.
And, I mean, you really pray. You ask boldly in the name of Jesus for God to intervene and provide you with the money to pay your bills.
Maybe, you even quote scriptures like Matthew 21:22, which says, “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”
Then, a few hours go by, and there’s a knock on your door. Your neighbor has stopped by to say God laid it on their heart to give you some money. And, it’s exactly what you need to pay your bills.
Just like that, God heard your prayer and met your needs.
Sometimes, it works that way. God still works miracles. He is still desiring to show His mighty power, so that He is glorified.
When God answers yes, your response should be to praise and thank Him for His grace and mercy.
God Says No
If one way that God answers prayer is to say yes, then He can also say no. Now, I know that it’s easy to misunderstand the situation. You pray, and you don’t hear from God.
In that moment, it’s easy to blame God or get upset with Him.
Yet, you shouldn’t because God did answer your prayer. He just didn’t give you what you wanted.
First of all, you have to remember that God has a plan for your life. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “ ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”
Ultimately, God has your best interest in mind. He knows the plan, even though you may not. While you're praying for a specific response, it may not be God’s will for you.
As 1 John 5:14 reminds us, “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.” We have to ask according to His will.
If what you’re asking for is not God’s will for you, then the answer’s going to be no. That doesn’t make God a bad God. Actually, the opposite is true.
God is a Loving Father
Think about it for a moment.
Parents say no to their children at times. For instance, you're shopping in the grocery store with your child, and they want candy. You say no because it’s too close to supper time. Furthermore, you know the candy will spoil their appetite, and you have something better for them for dinner.
Does that make you a bad parent? Of course not.
In the same way, when your heavenly Father tells you no, it’s because He has something better in store for you. His will for your life is always what’s best for you, even if it means not getting what you want.
We don’t always know His plans, and as God has said, “my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways” (Isaiah 55:8). Incidentally, if you want to know His will for you, all you have to do is ask. Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you.”
Moreover, all that is required of you is that you trust God with all your heart. Leave the planning up to Him. He knows what He’s doing. After all, he created the universe.
God Answers Prayer in the Right Time
Along with an outright yes or an outright no, God also answers prayer in his own time. In other words, you might have prayed the right prayer, but you prayed for it at the wrong time.
So, in this answer, God says, “Not, yet.”
As I said earlier, your prayers need to be in line with God’s will. Additionally, they need to be on God’s timetable.
If you want to consider how perfect God’s timing is, look to the birth of Jesus. Jesus was born at the perfect time in history. Galatians 4:4 tells us that “when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son”. At the time of Jesus’ birth, the world was ready for the promise of the Savior.
Sometimes, we want to rush God. We see the sense of urgency, and we feel like He doesn’t. When you feel like this, you need to take a step back and have patience. Wait for God to move, and you will be rewarded.
This requires that you trust Him. You have to believe that He knows what He is doing. Resist the urge to take matters into your own hands and get ahead of God.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
God Answers Prayer in Unexpected Ways
Finally, the fourth way God answers prayer is in unexpected ways.
Personally, I think the best illustration of how God works in miraculous, unexpected ways is the story of Lazarus.
Now, Lazarus and his sisters Mary and Martha were followers of Jesus. More importantly, the Bible says that Lazarus was a friend of Jesus that Jesus loved very much.
Unfortunately, Lazarus became deathly ill while Jesus was traveling and preaching. Mary and Martha send word to Jesus to come because Lazarus is dying. The sisters expected Jesus to come right away.
Yet, Jesus decided to wait. This confused the 12 disciples. They wondered why Jesus would wait because it might be too late. They even asked Jesus why didn’t go immediately.
So, Jesus told them that he was actually waiting for Lazarus to die, so that He could be glorified. In the end, Lazarus dies. Then, Jesus visits Mary and Martha. Ultimately, Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead, and people follow Jesus because of it.
What We Learn From Lazarus' Story
While this story isn’t exactly about prayer, Mary and Martha did ask something of Jesus. They were seeking a specific response, and were upset when they didn’t get it.
While they believed that Jesus could heal Lazarus, resurrecting the dead never crossed their minds. While they were asking for something specific, Jesus wanted to perform a greater miracle.
Instead of asking for something specific, Mary and Martha should have trusted Jesus to know what to do.
As Mother Teresa said, “"Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts."
Time to Tie it all Together
As you see, God always answers prayer. He may answer yes, no, not right now, or not in the way you think.
Whatever the answer may be, He always answers.
So, keep praying. Pray that His will be done in your life, that you grow in your faith in Him, and that He be glorified through you.
Also, pray for your specific situation.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. My prayer for you is that God blesses more than you may ask or think.
If you need someone to pray with you, please let us know by submitting your prayer request. As Hebrews 4:16 says, “Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”