If Jesus suddenly
appeared in the room you are now in, and told you that He would
answer every prayer that you prayed in the next 60 seconds, would
you pray? Of course you would! Why? Because you believed that
you would get answers to the requests you made.
sheds a lot of light on why people have not prayed. It is because
we have had doubt that our prayers would be answered. For if we
truly had faith that God would hear and grant our requests, we
would pray as fast as we could talk! Now, it is an important point
that not all prayer should be just asking for things. There are
prayers of praise, prayers of declaration, prayers of commitment,
and prayers of authority. But certainly prayers of supplication
(asking for things) are a normal part of a Christian's prayer
10:14 (NAS), the Bible says, "The LORD listened
to the voice of a man." An amazing thing about life
on this planet and our relationship with God is that He
Almighty God will listen to the voice of a man (or woman).
Other well-known references on this include Genesis
21:3, and Judges
4:6, the scripture says, "Be anxious for nothing,
but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving,
let your requests be made known to God." God wants
us to ask Him for what we need, for changes in the world around
us, and for His will to be done in various ways as we see the
Many people have
had an over-emphasis on the sovereignty aspect of God. Because
of this, they feel that He will do whatever He wants to do
and so there is little incentive to pray! However, in His sovereignty
God has set up a procedure for us to pray, and Him to answer.
Many theological volumes could be written on the various aspects
of why God wants it to work this way, but nearly all theologians
agree that it does work. You and I have heard of many cases of
specific answers to prayer, and had our own answers to prayer.
Sometimes they occur outside of the time frame and method that
we are expecting, but God can and does answer prayer.
Many times people
have gotten to hung up on wondering why certain prayers were not
answered. People have felt that because God did not answer all
of their prayers, that He was somehow not dependable of fair.
The honest truth is it is we humans who have not been dependable
The Bible gives us
insights that there are numerous reasons why specific prayers
have not been answered, even if we don't know what those reasons
might be. A true life example comes to my mind of a relative who
discovered his car would not start one day. After the car was
towed to the shop, the mechanic found the problem was a large
amount of dirt that had been poured into the gas tank through
the side filler cap. Upon questioning, the man discovered that
his own 7 year old boy had put the dirt in the gas tank. The boy
meekly explained that he thought the dirt would make the car run
better. The moral of the story is when we don't know why something
is not working in our prayers, others who are more highly trained
in "spiritual diagnosis" may be able to tell us what
is wrong and how to fix it!
However, some people
have been like a proverbial, prideful, self-taught shade-tree
mechanic. "Don't help me find the problem if I
can't figure it out myself, then I don't care to know."
Many times, if these people would submit their lives to a "spiritual
mechanic" he could help them discover what has gone wrong
and the reasons a specific prayer has not been answered.
One pertinent reason
comes from James
4:2-3. It says, "You do not have because you do
not ask. You
ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend
it on your pleasures."
Of course, we all often have personal needs that we should ask
God to meet. But knowing human nature, many of the prayers we
have prayed were truly selfish in their motive and therefore were
Other prayers that
we have prayed we felt were not answered but it has just
not yet been the perfect timing for God to answer them. Many times,
we have fancied in our own minds what the best timing would be
for an answer to come from prayer, when God knows many more factors
involved in how it would affect our lives as well as others. For
one example, a loving Father would not give His child something
when His child could not yet handle it responsibly.
Other prayers have
been much more selfless in nature, and still have not been answered.
Often these kind of prayers involve other people who have a free-will.
The concept of free-will confuses or even frustrates many people,
but still it is a clear scriptural concept. Jesus Himself often
asked people He was ministering to, "Will
you be made whole?" Our first assumption is
that naturally everyone would "will" to be made whole.
But I have found in trying to help people in ministry for about
20 years now that many people have not truly wanted help!
This has been a baffling and sometimes confusing experience for
me and many other ministers, but human beings (and their reasons
and motives in life) can be very complex.
prayer requires perseverance. This is because there are invisible
spirits in this world that seek to hinder and oppose the answers
to our prayers. One such famous example is recorded in Daniel
10:12-13, where the prophet Daniel prayed and fasted 21 days.
The angel Gabriel literally appeared to him at the end of that
21 days and said, "Do not fear, Daniel, for from the
first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble
yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come
because of your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia
withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the
chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there
with the kings of Persia." If the righteous, holy
prophet Daniel had to persevere in prayer and fasting for 21 days,
in order for the powerful angel Gabriel to be able to break through
with an answer, then we should understand that great spiritual
warfare rages over whether or not our prayers will come to pass!
From this example, it was obviously not an issue of the sovereignty
of God that was deciding such a strategic matter, but rather the
perseverance in prayer of a human being. I don't know about you,
but I feel like saying, "Oh God, help us persevere in
The Bible says that
we should not be discouraged in what we see or don't see after
praying, because we are to be led by faith, and not by sight.
Along these lines, Luke
18:1 says ,"Men always ought to pray and not lose
heart." Another translation says "not give
One last issue I
will mention in this short space is that many people don't pray
much because of the sometimes repetitious or boring aspects of
an average prayer life. God's cure for this is Spirit-led, creative
prayer, with some planned variety on a daily basis. The Lord has
led me to develop a Daily
Prayer Guide that helps build variety into a believer's devotional
life while also reminding him or her of many important topics
that need to be covered. This Daily
Prayer Guide is the ideal companion to go along with the Daily
Bible Reading Guide that the Lord helped me prepare some years
With a new
Millennium apparently upon us, it is time for all believers
to continue growing in their prayer lives. Life is more complex
than ever in the history of mankind and the solutions to
problems seem harder to implement. In addition, evil seems to
be more pronounced all around us, too. We need God's help in response
to prayer more than ever before.
This new Daily
Prayer Guide is being offered free. You can feel free to photocopy
these to give away, but the small purchase price is easily worth
the extra quality and appearance of the printed version. Why not
get some of these for your Sunday school or other small group,
family members, or perhaps even your whole church. As you and
I and other believers pray and pray more effectively
we can change our world around us.
Committed to Prayer,