“O Lord, How long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear?” – Habakkuk 1:2 (KJV)
Habakkuk is the poster child for what we all face: trying to grasp an understanding of unanswered prayers. We start to question God, “God do you hear me?” When we’re really desperate, we get a bit deeper, “God, do you care enough about me to even answer?”
We want answers so badly and if God doesn’t answer when we want, where we want it and how we want it, doubt creeps in and it becomes so deafening in silence. Here’s some good news, however: God does answer prayers. Prayer is meant to be a deep relationship with our Creator. It is the most intimate conversation we can ever have, between Abba and child. What father wouldn’t delight in helping his child? Yes, God does hear you and yes, he does answer! Here are 6 ways God answers prayer.
Your Sin Is Muffling Your Voice
“If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” Psalms 66:18 (NIV)
Often times, we find ourselves with a large “To-Do” list full of requests for God but our motives and spiritual health aren’t clean. Praising God on His day, but come Monday we’re screaming #YOLO as we divulge into an old, sinful habit.
“God, I really need money…” Great prayer but do you think God doesn’t know you want that money to buy a new pair of Jordan’s to keep up with your friends #KickGameOnFleek. “God, I really want this relationship to flourish…” Sincere prayer request, but coinciding that prayer with a week full of prideful, selfish behavior won’t work.
You don’t need to switch up your prayer but you do need to switch up your behavior. God can’t hear you when you’re drowning in sin and selfish, self-promoting motives.
Out of Love, No My Child
Listen, God isn’t obligated to give you everything you’ve prayed for. Can you imagine if we were given a yes to every prayer request? What would’ve happened had God granted Job’s wish to die? Think about all the requests God hears. Sometimes, he’s saving us from ourselves.
Other times, God says no because he has other plans. Maybe we pray for loved ones to be saved from an illness or someone spared from death’s grip. We lay into prayer for things but in the end, God simply says no. We can rationalize it, discuss it in-depth and look at it from every angle but the truth remains, God’s will trumps all. We live in a fallen world and bad things happen, even to the godliest of people.
The silver lining in this, however, is that God can place his strength in you when you are weak and broken. The circumstance may end badly and the outlook may look bleak, but God can bring good from his no answer!
Yes, You Asked Righteously
“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” – James 5:16 (NIV)
Sometimes, the simplest prayer is all we need. You asked with good intentions and a good motive. You’re spiritual plate is clean from sin and you’re in alignment with God. There is so much power in the prayer of a righteous person.
I remember a few times where I was just going through it. One instance, I was in the midst of a heated argument when I called out, “Jehovah Shalom, I call out to you for your peace to transcend over me.” Eerily, the greatest sense of peace and understanding transcended over me like never before. The simplest prayer is so effective and when God sees good intentions, there’s nothing our father wouldn’t do for us!
Yes, But Wait Patiently
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” – Matthew 7:7 (NIV)
As children of God, this is probably the hardest one. We usually want an answer immediately, whether it’s a yes or no, making any answer that involves waiting almost impossible. Just like the scripture above with Habakkuk, we cry out, “God did you hear me?” It’s almost like we want to start begging, “God, please answer, please don’t let this be a waiting season.”
As a child of God, you will face these moments. For me, I’m currently in one of the most difficult seasons of waiting that I’ve ever witnessed, but it isn’t my first. My first came when I was freshly graduated from high school. I’d garnered scholarships to attend a school I wasn’t too big on but it was a start. I worked all summer, just to pay for my summer school jump-start. A week before classes ended, I received an email and phone call stating that they messed up and didn’t charge me for nearly $400 dollars of additional fees.
I can still remember them telling me, “Either pay, or don’t come this fall.”
I was devastated because I didn’t have the money. The next 3 years were filled with missed opportunities and more heartache. I’d lie if I didn’t stay vigilant in prayer. I rebelled here and there but I always found my way back to praying. One day, in 2008, God answered my prayers; today I sit here with not only my Bachelor’s (from the school of my dreams) but also a Master’s degree to compliment it.
No, waiting isn’t easy, but we must stay vigilante. Maybe during this season of waiting, God wants you to work on yourself. We’re quick to say we want to get married and start a family. God tells you to wait and the floodgates open. You see it as God denying you. God sees it as, you want a wish list for a mate yet you aren’t ready or willing to build yourself into the wife or husband you need to be. Maybe God is also working on your mate too, prepping them.
Instead of pushing the agenda, ask yourself what does God need me to work on during my period of waiting? Maybe it’s maturity or then again, maybe he’s perfectly crafting that job you prayed for. Maybe he’s putting the right pieces into place where you can flourish. See your time in waiting as a challenge to prepare yourself. You think God is silent when in reality; God has been working the whole time. You just can’t see it.
Yes, But Not Exactly How You Asked Me
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight.” – Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)
We have a tendency to basically give God a How-To guide on how to answer our prayers. Yea, we trust God, but we’d feel a whole lot better if God answered it almost exactly how we prayed it. We tend to lean on what we want or need, rather than just submitting the entire situation to God and letting him direct us.
Yea, you prayed for a job but you want that million-dollar job. God knows you need a job and he also knows that million-dollar job isn’t what he has planned for you. So he gives you a job where pay is decent, it isn’t exactly what you wanted, but you’re happy. You wanted a husband with a thick beard or wife with soft, brown eyes. God, however, looks past your understanding on what a good partner is and gives you someone that prays with you morning, noon, and night.
Maybe it was befriending someone I otherwise would’ve never hung out with and leading them to Christ. Maybe it was moving to a city I despised, only to find one of the most loving church environments I’d ever been a part of. God will work things out for his plan, not ours and we have to fully submit and subscribe to this way of doing things.
Yes, And I Have Much More
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
God knows what we need and then some. He hears our cries and sometimes, He gives us much more than what we even prayed. You prayed just a simple prayer of deliverance yet God gave you much more. He hit your needs and took care of your wants.
In 2014 I finished my internship but wasn’t offered a full-time position. I was making a good amount and I’d saved money efficiently, so I figured it was only a matter of time before I landed something good. A month later, I finally found a job to hold me over while I diligently looked for better jobs. Over 4-5 months, I’d only secured one interview and it was a dud. I’d used all my savings to stay afloat and over my entire work period with this new job, I’d only made $1,735 dollars; my rent was $695 per month.
My rent was due and my bank account only had around $375 dollars. I’d gone without, eating very minimal or sometimes little to nothing. I had to ask my family to help; they mailed me a check for $400. I took money out of my banking account, got a money order and paid rent. Afterwards, I had close to $65-75 dollars left and I had to pay electricity, cable, and Internet.
I sat there, literally in tears, wondering how I was going to eat or pay bills. I hadn’t worked much due to hour cuts, so I figured my check would only be $100-150 dollars. Yet, I kept praying. Payday came and I was going to have to make decisions, pay bills or put a few groceries in my refrigerator. But…God showed out. My check was twice as much as I’d thought. Some hours came up out of nowhere and I had a $300 dollar check. I then saw another transaction for close to $900 dollars; my income tax had kicked in and was deposited. I went from $65-75 dollars to close to $1,300 in a week.
The following week, my landlord called and wanted to speak with me. She knew I was vigilante with finding a job so she cut my last month’s rent down to just $375 dollars and gave me all the time I needed when I eventually had to move home.
That’s how good God is. That’s how God shows up, at the midnight hour, with 3 seconds left on the clock and our time as Cinderella is fading. That’s the type of God we serve. He can pull us from nothing to something in the midst of a few seconds, all by prayer! Yes, he does hear you and yes, he will answer you!