– William Temple
Yes, I Will Except If
Cleary we know that God does hear and answer prayer but if there is confessed sin in our lives then God may not answer us or at least in the way that we have asked. Peter says that our prayers can be hindered “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered” (1 Pet 3:7) so if husbands can have their prayers hindered, there is no doubt that all believers can also have prayers that are hindered.
Even the Old Testament declares that “his ears attend to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil” (Psalm 34:12). Here is how we can know God will say “I will” to your prayer requests “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” (1 John 5:14-15). John had confidence that God answers prayer requests…but they should be in alignment with God’s will.
No Prayer, Nothing Happens
Many Christians have times of prayerlessness and when these occur, it shouldn’t be surprising that God is not working in our lives. If my own child wanted something but never asked for it, how would I know that he wanted it? Of course, God can read our thought life but if we are not praying for things like a person who is lost that they might be saved, that we need a job because we were laid off, or about anything else that is a great need in our life, it shouldn’t surprise us that nothing happens.
No, I Have Something Better for You
I have a friend who was jobless for a time and he began to panic as time went by. His bills began to pile up, the stress in his family began to mount, and he was about to come to the point of giving up on prayer. He had a couple of job offers but they were not quite enough to support his family so he declined them…then he got a good job offer but it meant that he’d have to move his whole family to another state. This would mean uprooting his children from their schools and their friends and leaving much of his extended family members behind, including his own parents. He went to apply for the job but something didn’t feel right about it. He didn’t really have peace about and so he declined the job. Driving back home he began to cry and thought, “God, I should have taken the job, I am so sorry…I trusted my feelings instead of having faith in you.” When he got home, he discovered that there was a new branch of a bank opening in a nearby town and that they were looking for several employees. You don’t have to guess what happened. He took the job, he didn’t have to move his family, and…this job even paid better than the job that he declined that was offered to him out of state. The point is that sometime God’s answer to prayer is not just “No” but it’s “No, not yet” or “Not right now because I have something better for you.”
God does hear prayer but if there’s unconfessed sin in our lives, He may not answer our prayers. Sometimes He says yes, that’s My will, sometimes its no because it’s like this “No, this will not be good for you…you’ll hurt yourself.” Frequently it’s, “No, not yet, I have something better for you. Trust Me.”