You may think that your prayers are not answered, but I submit that they are, every single one of them! Allow me to explain.
The Gospel of Matthew, chapters 5-7, are referred to as the Sermon on the Mount. Some people say that Jesus was only teaching 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.
The crowds – they were a very diverse group: 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. So Jesus addressed them all, taught them all, loved them all and most importantly, would die for and be raised for them all!
Now the Gospel of Luke also contains the Sermon on the Mount. Luke homes 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. 10 For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened.”
Once again, Jesus meant “everyone” because he was teaching the crowds. So I want zoom in on just a few words, where He said, “ask and it will be given to you.” In other words, ask God in the form of a PRAYER and the ANSWER, will be given to you.
Does this mean that God is an ATM…I punch in what I want and cash comes out…from His account?
Does this mean that God is a genie in the bottle…my prayer is a wish and He does what I command?
If our prayers are punched-in demands, then I would not expect back anything except silence. But when our prayers are not demands but desires, I believe that 100% of those will be answered, in one of four ways. Thanks to a recent blog from Pastor Rick Warren whom I am borrowing from, he concisely labeled these four possible answers into one-word reminders: NO, SLOW, GROW, and GO.
NO: When we pray and ask God for something, the answer might be a big fat “NO!” Why? Because God knows that the request is not right for us.
Maybe you were dating someone who you thought could be “the one.” When things went south, you may have later met and married the spouse of your dreams. That initial NO from God became a such tremendous blessing and a great YES.
When God says no and the door is closed as I taught in Five Minute Power Message #59, it will always be for our own good. I further submit that the closer we grow to God, learning and meditating on His Word, the less we will even hear NO because we will be praying according to His will in the first place.
SLOW: The second answer to a prayer might be, “SLOW”. It may be that our request is good but it’s just not the right time. When God says slow, this is not a denial but just a delay.
For example, maybe you previously asked God to help you obtain a new job. Maybe you ultimately got that job but after some delay and upon reflection, you see that the wait actually benefited you.
GROW: A third possible answer to every single prayer request on earth might be, “GROW”. The request is good and the timing is right, but we are not right. God says we need to grow. He wants to see more maturity in our spiritual lives. He wants us to grow our capacity so we’ll be able to embrace the blessings when the answer changes down the line.
GO: Finally, when the request is right and the timing is right and when we’re right, God says, “GO!” God often gives us a green light and an affirmative answer to our prayers. This is certainly a reason to be grateful, when our prayer request is aligned with God’s perfect will and we receive what we asked for.
Whichever of the four ways that God answers our prayers, we should celebrate and be grateful, because our loving God, who loves us more than we could ever imagine, is delighted when we seek Him constantly!
So when you pray, remember His promise is “ask and it will be given to you.” What will be given is an answer (whether no, slow, grow or go) that is perfect for our situation, as determined by the One who created and loves us!
Here is a video version of this blog; Four Ways that Every Prayer is Answered- FIVE MIN. POWER MESSAGE #80
Phil Henry is a financial adviser and also an ordained minister who founded and produces short videos and blogs at Phil Henry Power Gospel.