Insights On Getting Your Prayers Answered!


January, 2000

Dear Ministry Friends,

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.

This illustration 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 life.

In Joshua 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 30:17, Numbers 21:3, and Judges 13:9.

In Philippians 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 opportunity existing.

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 or fair!

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 not answered.

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.

Sometimes successful 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 prayer."

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 up" (NIV).

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 ago.

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,

Dale Leander


FINANCIAL PARTNERSHIP: You can help us continue ministering and making many of our resources available without charge by sending a monthly or one time offering to: Words of Life, P.O. Box 701045, Tulsa, OK, 74170. To give by credit card, you may call and leave a secure message at 1(800) GET-WORD. To order ministry materials or give by credit card, you can also visit our web site,

REPRODUCTION AGREEMENT: Paper duplication or electronic forwarding of this teaching is permitted for non-commercial purposes provided that the complete message and contact information for Words of Life is included. Thank you. Copyright 2002 - 2006, Dale W. Leander.

TO SUBSCRIBE OR UNSUBSCRIBE: Just email us and tell us your preference.