You may think that your prayer requests are not being answered. I submit that they are, every single one of them! Allow me to explain.
In the Gospel of Matthew, chapters 5-7 are referred to as the Sermon on the Mount. Some people claim Jesus was only addressing his disciples that day. Yet look what the passage records regarding His audience:
- Matthew 7:28 (NASB) When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching.
Keep in mind that “the crowds” were a very diverse group comprised of Jews, non-Jews (called Gentiles in the Bible), “religious-types” who thought they were not sinners, and sinners like me who knew and admitted their sinfulness. Jesus addressed them all that day. He taught them all, loved them all and most importantly, would die for and be raised for them all!
The Gospel of Luke also contains the Sermon on the Mount. Let’s hone in on the portion where Jesus is teaching the crowds how to pray:
- Luke 11:9-10 (NASB) “…. ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened.”
Again, Jesus was teaching the crowds, aka, “everyone,” and told them to “ask and it will be given to you.” In other words, ask God in the form of a PRAYER REQUEST and the ANSWER will be given to you.
But first, let’s differentiate a prayer request from a prayer demand. God does not need to answer or even acknowledge demands. If He did, wouldn’t it be MY WILL instead of HIS WILL being done?
Rather, when our prayers are requests and not requirements, desires and not demands, I believe that 100% of those will be answered in one of four ways.
With credit to a previous post from Pastor Rick Warren, which I have borrowed and re-worked, let me state that every prayer request WILL BE ANSWERED in one of four ways: NO, SLOW, GROW, or GO.
NO: When we pray and ask God for something, the answer might be a big fat “NO!” Why? Because God knows the request is not right for us.
Maybe you were dating someone whom you thought would be, “the one.” When things went south, you may have later met and married the spouse of your dreams. So the initial NO from God became the segue to tremendous blessing.
When God says “No” and a door is closed, it will always be for our own good. I further submit that the closer we grow to God, learning His Word and on it, the less we will hear “NO” because we will be praying according to His will in the first place.
SLOW: The second answer to every prayer request might be, “SLOW.” It may be that what we have asked for is good, but it’s just not the right time. When God says “slow,” this is not a denial but rather, a delay.
For example, maybe you asked God to help you land a new job. After a seemingly long pause, you may have ultimately gotten that particular job, but in a more beneficial way. So the delay was for your advantage.
GROW: A third possible answer to every single prayer request might be, “GROW. ” The request is right, but we are not. God needs us to grow. He wants to see more maturity in our spiritual lives and have our capacity grow so we’ll be able to embrace the blessings when the answer becomes “YES!”
GO: Finally, when the request is right, the timing is right and we are right, God says, “GO!” God often gives us a green light and an affirmative answer to our prayers. When our prayer request aligns with God’s perfect will and we receive what we asked for, this is certainly a reason to be grateful.
Whichever of the four ways that God answers our prayer requests, we should celebrate and be grateful because He loves us more than we can imagine, and is delighted when we seek Him constantly.
So when you pray, remember His promise, “ask and it will be given to you.” The answer we receive, whether NO, SLOW, GROW or GO, will be His will and perfect for our situation.
Here is a video version of this blog:
Phil Henry is a financial adviser and also an ordained minister who founded and produces short videos and blogs at Phil Henry Power Gospel.