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Often people wonder if their prayers have been heard by God. You may believe God hears our prayers but you may have been praying for healing, praying for the salvation of a loved one, or praying for a job or relationship and felt like your prayers weren’t heard. So does God hear our prayers? Does He answer prayer?
Read on and learn more about how God views prayer and how He responds.
1. Does God Hear Our Prayers?
The short answer to this question is yes, God hears our prayers and he does answer!
But that typically is not what is really being asked, because if one believes in God then one typically believes in answered prayer.
The heart of the question is not whether God hears and answers prayer but does God answer MY prayers.
You see, when we pray we often have a specific answer we hope to receive. Not always, but often.
If we are praying for healing, we tend to know what that looks like for us.
If we are praying for a relationship, we have a certain result we are looking for.
So the heart of this question is not whether or not God hears our prayers and answer them but does He give us the answer WE desire.
The answer to that is no! No, God does not always give us the answer we want any more than we always give our children everything they ask for.
But let’s break this down further so we can get an understanding of how God answers prayers specifically.
2. How Does God View Prayer?
At the core, prayer is a conversation we have with God.
So many times we have been taught that prayer is a petition but it is (or at least SHOULD be) far more than that.
As believers in Jesus, we are in relationship with God. Prayer is how we engage in that relationship, the same way conversation is how we foster relationship with other people.
How would our earthly relationships be if our only communication was asking for things?
Yet many times, that is how we view prayer. We see it as bringing a list of our hopes, dreams and needs before God. And certainly that is PART of it.
But God wants to hear from you without you ONLY asking for things the same way we as parents want to hear from our children without them calling up only when they want something!
Your heart as a parent would be broken if the only time your kids talked to you was to read off a laundry list of wants and needs and never took the time to listen to you or share the details of their lives with you.
God is no different. He is our Father and wants to not only hear FROM us but talk WITH us. It is a conversation that flows both ways.
So while prayer involves petition, it involves other elements, such as listening.
If you are not familiar with these other elements, you can read my post on praying effective prayers and the ACTS method of prayer.
3. How Does God Answer Prayer?
God answers prayers in a variety of ways. It really depends on what the prayer is and whether or not God determines something is right for you.
We may be asking for something we feel is good but not all good things are good for us in particular, or may not be good for us at this point in time.
Marriage is good! Marriage may be something God has planned for you! You may have been praying to God for years about marriage and yet, nothing.
It could be that, while God has marriage planned for you, this time, this person, this circumstance, may not be right.
God is a loving Father and that means not always giving us what we want.
He is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. He sees things we cannot even conceive of and He knows when a situation is right or wrong for us.
Sometimes we step outside the bounds of that protection and we make choices that are not best for us.
We fail to wait patiently for the Lord in those instances and He is not a puppeteer. He will not force Himself into all areas of our lives. We DO have free will.
Then oftentimes we get upset with God because things didn’t work out.
My dear sister, we cannot blame God for His answer when we step in and force ourselves into a situation we should be entrusting to Him.
While God hears our prayers and answers our prayers, we ourselves can interfere and cause the answer to be contrary to what it would have been had we just waited.
God is Working in Our Waiting
During those times when we feel God is silent, during those times of waiting, God is working.
We need to trust Him and trust that in the waiting, His perfect will is being worked out.
Do we want the NOW or do we want the best?
We need to trust God and trust that in the waiting, His perfect will is being worked out. Do we want the NOW or do we want the best?
Sometimes the Answer is “No”
We have a tendency to think that an answered prayer is one that works out the way we like.
But sometimes, like ‘not yet’, God gives us another answer, and that answer is ‘no’.
Yes, sometimes God tells us we cannot have something we desire.
I want to be a fabulous professional singer! God has told me no and that I would just hurt people’s ears.
No matter how much training I do, I will not ever be a professional singer. It is not my gifting nor is it my talent! Oh it’s definitely not my talent!
God has a plan and purpose for your life and it is not going to look like someone else’s and it may not even look like what you THINK you want it to.
I can remember my husband looking for a new job at one point in time. He had always gotten every job he ever interviewed for. But this time, every single job was a ‘no’. We could not figure it out!
We are talking over a dozen jobs! Every single one was a ‘no’.
But when the ‘yes’ came, it was more than we could have asked for! God was answering prayers I had forgotten I had even prayed in the year prior to this!! Giving it to God and trusting His answer is always best.
God’s ‘no’ is always a blessing for us. He is not trying to be a killjoy. In fact, quite the opposite. He is trying to save you from wasted time, pain, difficulty, heartache and hurt.
He is trying to position you where you need to be and where He can best use you. Remember, we should be seeking to serve God, not ourselves.
The ‘no’s’ are just as much a blessing (and an answer) as the yesses!
In fact, sometimes I think they are even more so!
We tell our kids no when we know something is not good for them. We all want our kids to be happy but letting your toddler eat candy all day, while they may love us for it, is not good for them and would cause them to be sick!
Praise God for the ‘no’ as well as the ‘yes’!
Check Your Heart
God hears our prayers but sometimes the answer is ‘no’ because we ask wrongly!
We need to make sure we are praying with the proper motives. We need to be sure what we are asking for isn’t out of selfishness or greed.
We also need to make sure we are not harboring any sinfulness in our lives. We need to confess our sins and THEN ask of God.
God hears our prayers but if the answer seems to be ‘no’, be sure to examine your heart and make sure it is in the right place.
4. God Hears Our Prayers – But Does He Answer ALL of them?
So we have established that God hears our prayers and that He answers prayers but does He answer ALL of them?
I believe that God does in fact answer all the prayers His children pray. As I said, it may be a ‘yes’, a ‘no’ or a ‘wait’ but it IS an answer. But what about those outside the family?
Does God hear the prayers of Sinners?
God Hears Our Prayers – But What About the Prayers of Sinners?
Now, I DO want to clarify here that the word “sinners” refers to unrepentant sinners or unbelievers. We are ALL sinners. But keep in mind, when we are under grace God chooses not to see our sin.
So sinners in this regard are the unsaved.
I use the term ‘sinners’ here instead of unsaved because I want to link it to the sinner’s prayer.
So does God hear and answer the prayers of sinners?
From everything I have studied about prayer and about separation from God, I have to conclude that God does not hear the prayers of sinners except the prayers for grace and mercy and the sinner’s prayer.
How did I form that opinion? Scripture!
Psalm 34:15-16 says:
The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to blot out their name from the earth. NIV
In John 9:30-31, the man whose sight Jesus restored states:
The man answered and said to them, “Why, this is a marvelous thing, that you do not know where He is from; yet He has opened my eyes! Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him. NKJV
God does not turn away anyone who cries out to him for grace and mercy, but other than this, God does not hear the prayer of an unrepentant sinner as only a person who is saved by faith can enter beyond the veil to the Holy of Holies and commune with God.
This is much the same way that only the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies once per year to make sacrifice for themselves and the people of Israel and then meet with God whose presence was on the Mercy Seat.
You have direct access to God but ONLY through the sacrifice Yeshua made. You can approach the Mercy Seat to make petition for yourself and to bear others up and make petition for them!
Yet, like the sinner on the cross, one only needs to cry out to God and seek mercy and grace to be heard.
God Desires Your Prayers
God hears our prayers and He wants you to speak with Him. He wants you to share the desires of your heart but He wants you to trust in Him and His answer.
When you abide in Him your desires change. What you wish for will align more with His will for your life and not selfish desire.
Spend time in the Word, spend time speaking with Him and listening as well and soon, you will recognize when something you are praying for might not be His best.
What are some ways God has shown you the blessing in ‘no’ or in ‘wait’? Share in the comments!
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Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™