How to receive Answers to Prayer
In our posting, “How to Gain God’s Favor,” I showed from the Scriptures in Romans and Ephesians that those of us who have believed on our Lord Jesus Christ already have God’s favor, His good will. There are many good works we are called to perform, but these works are not what cause God to be willing to act on our behalf. He is already more than willing to act on our behalf, having surrounded us with His favor.
If this is true, then why is it that our petitions are not always granted? Were we not humble enough? Did we not ask fervently or often enough? Was our request too frivolous? Was it God’s intent to put us through some trial to teach us something or to test us? I have heard each of these reasons given, but what do the Scriptures say? There are two requirements given in God’s Word for seeing our prayers come to pass, and neither of them are any of the above.
1 John tells us that when we ask according to God’s will, He hears us and grants our requests.
1 John 5:14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:
15 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.
Obviously, the “whatsoever” of verse 15 is limited to the “according to His will” of verse14. We learn God’s will from His written Word. Perhaps we are praying for some particular job. We know from God’s Word that it is His will to supply all our need, but maybe we don’t know if His will is for us to have that particular job or perhaps something better we had not yet thought of. We should find out. We should go to God and ask Him to show us. Once we know His will, we are ready for the next step, trust Him. Believe that He will bring it to pass.
Matthew 21:19 And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away.
20 And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away!
21 Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.
22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.
The “whatsoever” of verse 22, like the “whatsoever” of 1 John 5:15 is limited to “according to His will.” Believing is not a matter of operating something like “the force” independent of God’s will, and the apostles Jesus was addressing would have understood that. Both records must be put together. These are the two criteria. We ask according to His will and trust Him, believing (knowing) that He brings it to pass. Also, when we “ask in faith,” we are to stick to it, not momentarily trusting Him and then freaking out.
James 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.
7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.
8 A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.
As we do these two things, ask according to His will and trust Him, we will see God’s deliverance in our lives. One additional note on the will of God to deliver us: it is always God’s will to deliver us, not tempt us with evil.
James 1:13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:
Trust God for the deliverance. It is His will. Don’t doubt Him, and don’t doubt your standing with Him. Believe you are righteous before God. You are. It is a gift, paid for by Jesus Christ (Romans 5:17).