God wants us to pray to Him. He promises to hear and to answer our prayers. He is always ready, willing and able to answer our prayers. He will always give us good things (Matthew 7:7-11; James 1:17). Yet, sometimes it may seem that God does not hear us. When that happens remember that the problem is not with God but with us.
It could be that you are not right with God. The psalmist wrote, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear” (Psalms 66:18). You must have regard for God, not sin. If your heart is set on sin you have forfeited God’s blessings. If you stubbornly refuse to listen to Him, He will not listen to you. Isaiah warned Israel, “Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear” (Isaiah 59:1-2). It was not that God was unable to deliver Israel, nor that He had a hearing problem, but rather that Israel in their sinfulness had rebelled and gone after other gods. God will not answer your prayers if you harden your heart and reject Him.
It could be that you are not asking in faith. James taught us that we should rejoice in our trials knowing that the testing of our faith produces patience which makes us perfect (James 1:2-4). He added these words, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways (vv. 5-8). Often, we don’t understand what and why things are happening to us. We don’t know what to do, how to do it or when to do it. We lack wisdom and faith. We worry, fear, doubt and often fail because we are lacking in wisdom that comes by faith in God. Do you believe in God? Do you trust Him and continue to obey Him, especially when you do not understand, and things are the most difficult for you?
It could be that you are not asking at all. James wrote, “Yet you do not have because you do not ask” (James 4:2). God wants to hear from you. It is in asking that you acknowledge your dependence upon God as the source of your every need (Phi. 4:19).
It could be that you are not asking for the right things. James went on to write, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures” (James 4:3). This may be your problem. You are asking “for all the wrong things”. Prayer is not given to us so that we can get whatever we want but so that we can please God (1 John 3:22).
It could be that you are not praying according to His will. John wrote, “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” (1 John 5:14-15). Jesus taught us to pray that God’s will be done (Luke 11:2). This is what prayer is about – accomplishing God’s will and purposes, not ours. You can be assured that God always hears and answers such prayers.
James summed it all up well when he wrote, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16). He is literally saying that if you are a righteous person who is mighty in prayer, then your prayer is mighty.
Robert Dodson is the Preaching Minister for the Northwest Church of Christ.
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