Matthew 7:8 Everyone who asks receives.
Psalm 34:4 I sought the Lord and He answered me.
So if God tells us time and time again that when His children ask, they will receive, then why is it that so many prayers go unanswered? Why do we feel like God isn’t listening? A revelation I received today:
God considers all that we ask for through the filter of His perfect will.
Because God is omniscient, He knows everything that the future is going to hold for us. He holds our hearts in His hands, and because of His great and mighty love for us, He wants so much more for us than what our non-omniscient minds can fathom.
For instance, we might ask for a puppy, and want one with all of our heart. We might think that that puppy would offer so much joy to our lives. But God may be there saying, “You think you would have joy, but when you get that puppy you are going to be so frustrated that you have to potty train it and it’s going to have many accidents. You will have to wake up with it every three hours to take it out to use the bathroom. And oh yah, you have a newborn baby, I’m pretty sure that is a very bad combination.”
In case you were wondering, this was a real life occurrence for me when Azy was a newborn. Puppies are cute, but this was like having twins. Twin moms, I don’t know how you do it!
“No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” Psalm 84:11
We might think that He is not listening to us, or is always saying no, but when He is filtering it through His omniscience, it is hard to think that any outcome could be any less than perfect for us.
He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things. Romans 8:32
God showed me today that there are about 5 ways that He answers prayer, and in these 5 ways, they are really all a yes, just in a different way.
The first way He answers is “Yes, immediately” if our request lines up perfectly with His will and timing. The really incredible thing is that God is not bound by time, so He could essentially start answering our prayers many years before we even utter the words. Or, if He really wants to blow our minds, He could give us what we ask for before we even finish the sentence, like He did with Rebekah at the well.
Second, He says “Yes in due time.” The tricky part with this is that you can’t let a delay mean a denial in your mind. Think Zechariah and Elizabeth. He started praying for a child when they were very young. Then after years of a seemingly denial to his request, God says, “Oh hey, remember that request you had for a child, yah, so your wife is going to have a child. I know you are old, don’t worry about it, I got this.” OK, so He didn’t use those exact words, but you get the point. Knowing this, there is one very important thing you should remember.
Don’t let yesterday’s seemingly unanswered prayers stop you from praying again today and tomorrow with just as much freedom and faith.
Third, He says, “Yes, so you’ll learn from it.” Sometimes we think we know what we want, and God tries to convince us otherwise, but our stubbornness insists on it. So God will say yes if He thinks that we can learn something from it.
Another real life example. Ryan and I were doing ministry in New Mexico on a Native Reserve. We had just had Azy, and were feeling extremely homesick for our family. We insisted that we wanted to move closer and that that’s what would make us happy. God told me this, “You can choose to leave, I don’t need you here. But if you choose to stay then I will bless you and use you as a blessing.” We chose to leave. And still to this day we believe we made the wrong choice. Now, this doesn’t mean that God did not use us and bless us in Michigan. And we certainly wouldn’t be here in Illinois doing the ministry that we know for a fact God called us to do. But that does mean that God said yes to our request for provision to leave even though it would have been much better if we would have stayed. The lesson I learned through this is that God has our best in mind, and knows exactly what our hearts need. I don’t know if my heart will ever fully heal from the hurt of leaving that wonderful place. I still have visions of the people in my dreams very regularly.
Fourth, God says, “No because you’re heart’s not right.” Sometimes you ask and do not receive because you ask with the wrong motives so that you may spend it on your pleasures. James 4:3 If we ask for financial provision, God may not give it to us, not because the timing isn’t right, but because He knows that we haven’t learned to manage our provisions yet. He knows it wouldn’t do us any good. We would just go blow all the money He gives us as soon as we receive it. It is so important to come before the Father and lay down all our sins and shortcomings at the foot of the cross, asking Him to help us learn what He would want to teach us. In other words, get your heart right with the Lord first, and then bring your requests to Him.
Fifth, God says, “No, I have something better in mind.” Sometimes our requests are too small for the greatness of God. Sometimes we ask for a grain of sand and He wants to give us a mountain. I like to think that this answer is really a yes, but on a much grander scale. This is an answer that will be given with so much more glory to the Lord.
So to sum it all up, If you could take one nugget from this post, please remember this, when we pray we are in the presence of the almighty, and we are allowed to pray big prayers, realizing that God is a good Father. He might not answer in the exact way that we wish, but He hears every prayer, and answers every prayer. He withholds no good thing and He may just choose to amaze us even further than we ever imagined possible.
If you haven’t already, I implore you to watch War Room, and read the book that goes with it, The Battle Plan for Prayer. You will never be the same again!