Have you ever been discourage because you felt that God was not answering your prayer? The Bible is filled with promises how God hears our prayers and answers our prayers. But why is it that sometimes it seems like our prayers are falling on deaf ears?
One thing I have learned is with every promise there is a premise. There are certain factors each promise of God is dependent upon. For example the gift of salvation is dependent upon the fact that Jesus died on the cross and rose from the grave. Without those two things, there is no salvation. While salvation is a gift for all people, not everyone receives it.
When we think about prayer, there are certain premises that go along with God’s promise to answer our prayers. If you are wondering why it seems God is not answering your prayers, you might consider the following.
1) You have not asked (James 4:2). Have you put your prayer to words? God cannot answer a prayer not prayed. If it is not prayed, it is not a prayer. This seems so elementary. Yet, this may be the biggest reason we don’t have, because we don’t ask.
2) Persistent sin cherished (Psalm 66:18). We are all sin-a-holics. We have all fallen short of the glory of God. But there is a difference between struggling with sin and cherishing sin in our hearts. If you are praying for God to bless you financially, make sure you are seeking to honor him with what he has already given you. He doesn’t give us more so we can sin more boldly. He gives us more to build his kingdom and better serve him. Those who are faithful with a little, will be entrusted with more.
3) Not listening to God (Matthew 13:14–15). There is a difference between talking with God and talking at God. Are you listening for his response? Sometimes we get so focused in on how we think God should answer our prayer, that we miss how he is actually answering our prayer. Are you seeking him in his Word? Are you seeking him in the Sacrament? It is hard to hear from God if we are not opening up our Bibles and regularly coming to his altar. These are the ways God regularly speaks to us. Maybe God has already answered your prayer, but you have not listened for the answer.
4) Not prayed in faith (John 14:6,12–14). God hears our prayers because of the shed blood of Jesus Christ. It is only through Jesus Christ we have access to the Father. We don’t pray to some ambiguous God somewhere up there in the sky. We specifically pray to our Father in heaven as Jesus has taught us and empowered us to do. Recognize those who pray in a name other than Jesus have their prayers fall on deaf ears. God hears our prayers only because of Jesus.
5) Not in agreement with God’s will (Matthew 18:19–20). This is why it is important to pray with other believers. Other believers will help us to align our prayers with God’s will. Tonight, the Bears play the Giants. I am praying for the Bears to win. Many of you are praying for the Giants to win their first game. We are in disagreement. Whose prayer will God answer? Actually, I don’t think either. I don’t think God really cares who wins a football game. It is not that important. But when we come together and recognize what is truly God’s will and ask God’s will to be done, God shows up in a big way.
6) Not yet (Psalm 13, Psalm 86:15). I don’t like this one. I am an impatient person. I want it now. I don’t like to wait. But I know in God’s way and in God’s time is the best time.
In the end, keep in mind it is not about the answer to our prayers. It is about the relationship with our Heavenly Father. He is not the Almighty Vending Machine, where we put in a prayer request, and the answer is dished out. More than anything else God wants you to experience Him. He wants you to know that in Him you have everything you need and more. In Him there is always enough. In Him there is wisdom. In Him there is healing. In Him we discover a God who is bigger than all our trials, challenges, fears, and setbacks. In Him is abundant life. We discover all this when we take hold of the gift of prayer!
Just a reminder – this Sunday we continue our message series – Build Your House of Prayer. Our special guest this weekend is Pastor Jim Buckman who is an Urban Mission Strategist and Church Planter. He will be sharing how he uses the gift of prayer to help build the Church of Jesus right here in New Jersey. Join us at 8am for Classic Worship or at 10:30am for Creative Worship. The iPray Bible study begins at 9:15 in the Fellowship Center between services.