1 John 5:14-15 “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.”
Does God answer prayer?
Depending on who you ask, the answers may vary. For those who have cried out to God in the midst of despair, or others in loss, the perceived silence has often led to bitterness and anger toward God.
Is the Lord so uncaring that He does not listen? Are the thousands of prayers offered up every moment overwhelming to Him? Have we asked too many times or have our lives of imperfection limited our ability to receive anything from the Lord?
There can be so many questions as to why God acts the way He does, and for those who have spent little time in His Word, a lack of understanding often leads to false conclusions.
When God speaks our only obstruction is in our ability to listen. If He speaks and we reject it because it is not what we want to hear, our concern should center more on ourselves and less on God’s reasoning.
When God Leads
When the Lord led the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt, He took them to the border of the promised land. The fear that spread throughout the camp inhibited the people’s ability to receive what God had promised and so they refused to listen to His counsel.
Deuteronomy 1:26 “Nevertheless you would not go up, but rebelled against the command of the Lord your God; and you complained in your tents, and said, ‘Because the Lord hates us, He has brought us out of the land of Egypt to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us.”
Once the Lord had condemned the people for their unwillingness to trust Him, He chose to complete the promise through their children. The people realized they had sinned against the Lord and so they girded up their weapons and were ready to go, but it was too late. The people wanted to go in on their terms instead of God’s leading, the result would have been disastrous.
Deuteronomy 1:42-43 “And the Lord said to me, ‘Tell them, “Do not go up nor fight, for I am not among you; lest you be defeated before your enemies.” ’ So I spoke to you; yet you would not listen, but rebelled against the command of the Lord, and presumptuously went up into the mountain.”
When God leads, we must obey exactly as He commands.
We often form ideas for how God should lead and when He doesn’t follow our expected paths, we are faced with the dilemma of trust. If our pride is too great, we will reject anything that doesn’t align with our will. We want God’s blessing but we don’t want His sovereignty over our lives.
What was intended to be the fulfillment of a great promise turned into a curse for Israel.
Deuteronomy 1:44-5 “And the Amorites who dwelt in that mountain came out against you and chased you as bees do, and drove you back from Seir to Hormah. Then you returned and wept before the Lord, but the Lord would not listen to your voice nor give ear to you.”
Israel first chose not to listen and after they rebelled their cries fell on deaf ears.
How often has God tried to lead us and yet we would not follow? Could the times of our calling out to God been during those times of rebellion, when we didn’t like the consequences of our disobedience?
We want it our way and when it doesn’t go our way we disagree with the pain that follows. Essentially, we want to be our own gods. We only want God’s power to empower our ability to be independent of His omniscient rule. We foolishly place our will as authoritative over God’s design for our lives and what we experience is the trouble of sin.
God doesn’t have trouble hearing us, what He will not do is acquiesce to our short sighted demands. He will not deviate from His perfection, to do so would violate His very nature. Sin is an affront to God’s nature, it tries to diminish God’s glory, and it defiles His name. Why would God submit to a sinful people who only want Him to support their foolish agenda?
When God Listens
God listens to those who pray according to His will.
I John 5:14-15 “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, 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 the petitions that we have asked of Him.”
So often we pray with a limited understanding, hoping that God will listen. Wisdom would say to pray for God’s will to be done, knowing that God is good and His ways are good.
Psalm 94:9-11 “He who planted the ear, shall He not hear?
He who formed the eye, shall He not see?
He who instructs the nations, shall He not correct,
He who teaches man knowledge?
The Lord knows the thoughts of man,
That they are futile.”
God hears our prayers, but He will not lead us toward foolishness. If we truly want to pray with power, we will pray in conjunction with God’s purposes and not our own.
How do we know God’s purposes?
Knowing the will of God comes by way of understanding and that is revealed through the Holy Spirit.
Ephesians 6:18 “Pray in the Spirit at all times, with every kind of prayer and petition. To this end, stay alert with all perseverance in your prayers for all the saints.”
God reveals His will to those who seek Him. For those who understand how to approach the throne of God, they find their prayers are consistently answered.
What do we know?
* We know God hates sin.
Job 35:12-13 “There they cry out, but He does not answer,
Because of the pride of evil men.
Surely God will not listen to empty talk,
Nor will the Almighty regard it.”
* We know that God honors faith.
James 5:15 “And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.”
* We know that God loves righteousness.
James 5:16 “Therefore confess the sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man being made effective prevails much.”
God’s people exhibit all 3 of these forms of faithfulness. They strive to walk in holiness because they love the Lord. They walk in faith because they know He is trustworthy. God’s people strive to be obedient because they know their righteousness is pleasing to the Lord.
The world knows nothing of God. The world has no desire to please God, but only to please themselves. To think the world will receive anything is the hope of a fool. Judgement is reserved for the rebellious, grace for the redeemed.
God answers prayer—I have no doubt. Knowing how to pray and what to pray for comes from having a relationship with the Lord and that takes some effort.
How much effort have you placed into your relationship with the Lord? It could be the difference between knowing the will of God or living outside of His will.