Have you ever had somebody come up to you and say, “I have been praying for a long time about ‘this thing’, and God just doesn’t answer my prayers.” Most of us, unfortunately, have no idea what it means to be fervent in prayer. We pray once or twice about something then get caught up in other things; we then draw the erroneous conclusion that somehow God has failed to listen to our plea. Now if that’s not you, good for you! That kind of tenacity is no longer the norm in our church culture.
Does God answer prayer? Absolutely! It is the Lord’s delight to give us what we ask of Him in prayer. Like David, we should all pray, “O God, hear my prayer; give ear to the words of my mouth” (Psalm 54:2). If we don’t believe in the efficacy of prayer, there would be no reason for us to ask God for anything. He is the one who tells us we can have confidence our prayers are heard personally by Him. “And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of Him” (John 5:14,15). While as Christians, we pay lip-service to the superlatives in that sentence (“whatever” and “anything”), how often do we really believe it? We need to remember that we are finite and not infinite. God’s ways are not our ways! God wants us to experience life and have great blessings, but he knows better than to give us something we really want, which could quickly hurt us or our friends and family. That’s why sometimes, it seems as if God is not answering our prayers. He is holding back the tide of disaster, waiting for us on the other side of the things that we’re not ready for, and/or cleansing us of desires birthed from selfishness, envy or pride.