We would probably become unbearable if all our prayers were answered every time. Why, God might even have to move sideways on His throne!
Three times I begged the Lord to make this suffering go away. But he replied, "My kindness is all you need. My power is strongest when you are weak." (2 Corinthians 12:8-9,CEV)
Let’s continue with yesterday’s theme and consider now some reasons from our side why prayer doesn’t always seem to be answered.
First, because we sometimes ask for wrong things. Some requests are obviously wrong, if only we stopped and thought. We can’t expect God to answer such requests, only those in line with His will. "We can be confident that he will listen to us whenever we ask him for anything in line with his will’ (1 John 5:14, NLT).
Second, because sometimes we ask for the right thing, but with wrong motives. "When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures" (James 4:3). Because God is far more interested in our hearts than anything else, he sometimes refuses our requests to help us see more important issues.
Third, because of lack of faith. When Jesus’ disciples asked why they couldn’t cast out a demon, he replied, "You didn’t have enough faith" (Matthew 17:20, NLT).
Fourth, because of a lack of prayer. James wrote, "You do not have, because you do not ask God" (James 4:2). We all know how much easier it is to talk about praying, or to promise to pray, than to actually do it!
Fifth, because of sin. Of course, if God were to wait until we were sinless before He could answer, He would wait a long time! But the harboring of serious or ongoing sin inevitably hinders what He can do through us. "If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened" (Psalm 66:18).
Finally, because of our need to stay humble. We would probably become unbearable if all our prayers were answered every time. Why, God might even have to move sideways on His throne! Not having prayer answered sometimes, therefore, can help keep us humble and dependent on God, as Paul discovered.
If some of your prayers haven’t been answered recently, why not ask the Holy Spirit to show you if any of these issues might be the cause.
God examine me and know my heart. (Psalm 139:23, NCV)
Copyright © 2017 Martin Manser and Mike Beaumont