Monday, July 19, 2010

Why prayer goes unanswered

Hello again, I am so glad you are with me today sharing the Word of God!

Let's begin with prayer: Lord, thank you for this chance to be blessed by your Word. I am thankful that you are working in all the areas of my life, and I can let go of my concerns for now, and give you this time. Let me be sensitive to the ways in which I have held up the answers I so desperately need to my prayers. Let me be open to your leading, Lord Jesus, amen.

Have you ever prayed and prayed about a situation, and it just didn't seem like anything ever happened? I sure have and it can be so discouraging. I've often wondered if there is something I need to be doing different? Is God saying, "No," or "Wait a while," or is He saying, "You've got to pray more, or with more belief, or with more humility," or what??

During the St. Paul conference with Joyce Meyer, I listened to a teaching on just this subject. Seven possible hindrances to prayer were discussed and the first one might surprise you. Of course there are more than seven, and not all seven will apply to your situation, but let's pay attention because if I am doing something to hold up my blessing, I want to know about it, don't you?

The first hindrance was to simply not ask for what you want. Think about it? How often do you just boldly ask God for what you want? I think a lot of time we feel foolish for speaking aloud what we really want to happen (like He doesn't know.) I know I sometimes feel I shouldn't want some things, or may be I should just suffer with a "glad heart," do you know what I mean? Often, we act like "Well, if God wanted me to have it, He would give it to me."

Look in the back of your bible, and find all the verses in which God tells us to ask. I'll help you out with a couple, then you find some, as well.

James 4:2 "You do not have because you do not ask."
Matthew 21:22 "And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive."
Now it's your turn:

Do you ever tell your children, "If you want something, just ask?" I do. Mostly I say it in frustration when they've climbed to get something out of reach and then fallen, or gotten into something without permission that I was saving, but other times, I find out they had a real need for something and didn't ask for it. It might be some new socks or underwear, or it might be one of my rough and tumble young'ns fell and didn't tell me they were really hurt.

My precious nine year old son recently fell and broke his arm at camp (Lake Beauty Bible Camp, Long Prairie, MN) and didn't tell anyone how bad it was hurting for two full days afterwards, because he was afraid he would have to go home and miss out on the rest of camp. By the time he spoke up his wrist was swollen so much he couldn't hide it anymore. Luckily it only took an hour and a half to get it casted and get him back to camp, but it amazed me that he could go so long in need and let his assumptions about what might happen stop him from asking for help.

Do you ever do that to God? Assume you know what the answer will be so you just don't bother asking? Yup, sometimes I just scratch my head that my kids won't tell me that their underwear are falling down around their knees, but will ask me all day long to buy them a sugar-filled Popsicle that is only going to harm their teeth (but it tastes goooood, Mom.) Priorities differ, I suppose. 

I might say no to another Popsicle, but I will jump to get them something good for their hearts, minds or bodies, and I bet you are the same. It makes us feel good to give our children good things, and God tells us He feels the same way.

Read Luke 11:9-13 and record what insights you gain about your own beliefs about what you "should" and "should not" ask from God.

God says He delights in giving us good things. Some of you might worry about abusing God's generosity. Don't. I think it is safe to say that you can pray all day long about a new Ferrari and chances are, one is not going to appear in your garage. I could be wrong - God might want to bless you in just that way, but over all, we can go ahead and ask, and trust God to judge what's good for us. I know my kids ask two or three times a day to play Playstation, even though they know I'm only going to allow them to play once a day, most times. If they've had enough, I just say no. But once in a while . . . So go ahead and ask. If He says no, you're no worse off today than you were yesterday.

Do you want to make sure every prayer you pray gets a resounding "Yes!"? Then, look up the following verses in which God tells us exactly which desires are always granted.

James 4:3 (in fact, just read that whole paragraph starting with 4:1-6. Really, that whole book is chock full of good advice.)
Matthew 6:1-15

Find out what God says is important and worth praying about, and pray that. Jesus promises that if we pray in God's will, our prayers will be answered. Secondly, believe.

You must make a decision to believe God is working in your situation. He hears your prayers or He doesn't. He loves you or He doesn't. He is Good, or He isn't. Make a choice, and stick with it. The phrase I took home with me from the conference, one that stuck, was "I believe God is working on this situation."

I can't tell you how many times over the last week that I have been tempted to start worrying over a situation again, after I have prayed mind you, and that phrase pops up in my mind. As soon as I say it aloud, "I believe God is working on this, I have prayed about it, God heard me, and He is working on it," well, instantly I feel at peace.

I want you to try that today and let me know what happens. And please joinme tomorrow for the remaining prayer hindrances. Let's pray together:

Dear Lord, thank you for sharing your heart and your Word with us today. Change me from the inside out, Father. Let me pray prayers that are in Your Will; give me desires that You would have me want; give me the strength to believe You are working in my situation today, amen.

Links to bible study posts:
A good bible study - intro
Something can and must change - day one
The rest of the story, or the 6 missing hindrances - day three 

Photo by Gina Smith, courtesy of

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