May 15, 2014

There is No Such Thing as an Unanswered Prayer

Have you ever had someone ignore your question?  Maybe they quickly changed the subject.  Maybe they quickly realized they had to go.  Maybe they said, “Let me get back to you.” Or “let me think about it.”  But they never got back to you.  There are a lot of questions that we ask that have yet to be answered, big questions, little questions, important questions, questions that keep us stuck where we are until we get an answer.   Unanswered questions are frustrating and disappointing as they put life on hold.  We have a tendency to think of prayer the same way, that our prayers can go unanswered.  Garth Brooks even sang a song about it:
“Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers
Remember when you're talkin' to the man upstairs
That just because he may not answer doesn't mean he don't care
Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered”

Cute song.  Horrible theology. 

I hear a lot of Christians borrow Garth’s ideology often times, even trying to encourage each other with these words.

First off, God is not “the man upstairs.”  He’s not upstairs and He’s not a man at all.  He’s God.  He's the God of Heaven and Earth.  He’s perfect, holy, powerful, compassionate, just, right, good, and loving.  A ‘man’ ignores things, is limited, can’t hear everything, can have his plate too full, can be selfish…God is not like this…He’s not just the man upstairs, He’s Almighty God.

God answers every prayer.

A few verses to consider…

Luke 18:7-8  “And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night?  Will he delay long over them?  I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily.”
Matthew 7:7-8  “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”
Romans 8:26-28  “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.  And he who searches hearts knows what is ethe mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.   And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

I believe these passages reveal several promises from God.  First, He hears every prayer.  Second, He will answer every prayer we pray.  Third, He will answer immediately.  Fourth, His answer is always good.

Garth is right about one thing.  We don't always get the answer we want.  Prayer can be frustrating.  But it’s not God that makes prayer frustrating.  It’s our impatience.   It’s our selfishness.  It’s our lack of faith.  It’s our flesh.  It’s our nearsightedness.  It’s our tunnel vision.  It’s our limited ability and power.  It’s our insubordination to His will and His way.
Don’t make the mistake of accusing a sovereign, all powerful, all knowing, compassionate, loving, and good God of not answering your prayer just because you didn’t get what you wanted, how you wanted it, and when you wanted it.   Trust him.  Know that every prayer we pray is answered immediately.  Just because you don’t know the answer yet, or can’t hear it, or can’t see, or because you are not satisfied with it doesn’t mean He hasn’t answered.

I think God answers every one of our prayers immediately with at least one of the four following answers…

1.       Yes! 

When our requests line up with His good, perfect, and pleasing will the answer is always, “yes!”

2.       No. 

God answers every prayer, but like it or not, His answer is not always “yes!”  Sometimes he says no.  God promises us good.  He will not give you something that will not bring goodness to your life.  Whether you realize it or not you may be demanding that God do something or give you something that is against His good, perfect, and pleasing will for your life.  Listen, you not getting what you want when you want it doesn’t mean that He hasn’t answered your prayer or has ignored you.  He has answered and His answer was no.  Be thankful, because whether you realize it or not, He is protecting you.

You do the same thing with your children.  My kids ask for a lot of things that they do not understand are bad for them.  I tell them no…a lot.  It’s my job as their father not to give them everything they want, but to give them what they need.  This answer is often followed up by the next answer He gives...

3.       You need this instead.

Matthew 7:11 “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

God will always give you His best for your good.

4.       Yes, but you’ll need to wait.

His answer is always immediate, but our realization always isn’t.  We can’t always see things like God can.  Sometimes it takes time to see His answer to be materialized our lives, situations, and scenarios.  One thing you can always be sure of, He will always be on time.

To think that God hasn’t answered your prayers is accusing God of not caring, being too busy, and being incapable of dealing with our multitude of issues.  It’s a way of saying prayer doesn’t work all the time.  It’s a way of saying there are sometimes better ways to handle our issues than just waiting around on a God that may or may not answer.  Thinking that God might not answer your prayer will make you eventually think He is incapable of handling what we deal with and that He doesn’t care.  Listen, He cares and He has answered.  Every prayer, every time!

I thank God that He answers every prayer.  He answers every pray according to His will and in His way.  And His answers are always better than my requests.  His answers are always best.