What kind of prayer brings answers? I have reason to believe so many Christians will desire to know this kind of prayer. For much of my walk with God and journey of faith, I have met believers deeply frustrated as they have trusted God for many things and have not had them met. It is, however, needful to say, to easily dismiss them as faithless and sinful will not be fair. Some are pious believers who have exhibited daring faith that will unsettle even the unbelieving.
I believe the scripture is clear “He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be an abomination.” Proverbs 28: 9 KJV. The quoted scriptures indicate that, given our discussion, we are not talking about people living willfully in sinful rebellion. Such people’s prayers are detestable as abominable before God. Our concern in this study is believers. I have seen Christians waiting for answers grow wary and spent. The Scriptures caution, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12 NIV. When an answer to a prayer appears to take a long time to come to fruition, the heart grows weary, exhausted, and tired. When, however, a deep longing, desire, or yearning is answered by God in what appears speedily, it is like a tree of life. God understands our humanity and the threshold of our patience laced with human frailty. God knows how bruised our spirit can become when we wait. The longing, the expectation, sometimes crushes our frail hearts. Unfortunately, some have lost faith in a loving God in the process. The enduring grace of waiting for answers is not what everyone has. Endurance is a character of God, a fruit of the Spirit, a symbol we belong to God.
This is not to suggest God is somewhat slow. Never. As Jesus Christ puts it, “And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? I tell you, he sees that they get justice and quickly….” Luke 18: 9 NIV. Jesus made it clear that if the unjust judge can give justice to a woman who wearied him, the righteous God will respond quickly to the prayers of his saints. God doesn’t want us to be wary or get tired before He answers our prayers. He desires to answer us quickly, as Jesus Christ said.
The fallen man, however, is impatient by nature. Man, in his weakness, wants to have his way. This has something to do with the inner rebellion in our fallen nature. We long for the freedom to express our God-given free will. We detest and resist attempts by anyone to take our free will away. This is why democracy looks appealing. It gives us the illusion of control. The seductive and fascinating idea is that we control the government. The very fact that we can always have our way with a simple majority is alluring. Politicians can take advantage of this in an unsuspecting way sometimes. This is, however, not the focus of this study.
When limited by life, sometimes, we turn to God in prayer and trust in His love and sovereign power to answer us. When we don’t get answers, we are confused! Some spiritual “pundits” will quickly work out an explanation for us! You hear statements like “have you prayed enough?” or “Is there any sin in your life?” “Have more faith”! “Be patient”! I agree there are times God is achieving something deep in us, and it requires time and will not give us our answers immediately. We need to be patient. We also need to exercise more faith to access God’s blessings. I humbly admit that it is God’s prerogative when it comes to answering prayers, and I don’t have all the answers as to why some prayers are not answered. Only God answers that. My concern is on what kind of prayer, as explained by scriptures, guarantees answers from God. I will explain as far as the scriptures allow me to. This is the farthest threshold my imagination can go on this topic. I am limited to scripture in my understanding.
“When you ask, you do not receive because you ask with wrong motives…” James 4:3 NIV.
“….Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Matthew 26: 39 NIV.
The central issue is how to align our hearts to will and what God’s ultimate will is when we pray. God desires to answer us quickly as we look, but our will must align with God’s ultimate will. God’s will is always good. We know this because God loves us. God is perfect in His ways. God is always right; this is not an easy prayer to pray. Jesus Christ wrestled to overcome his will to let God’s sovereign will prevail over lives. In prayer, we must learn the spiritual wisdom of aligning our will with God’s will. One may ask, what is the will of God? The will of God is what He has said. What has he said? What is written in his Word, in this case, the Bible? The will of our fallen nature is crude and deceitful. Our stubborn will can masquerade itself to take a pious form and want to prevail on God in prayer.
The scriptures warn, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17: 9 NIV. The heart can even deceive the owner. This is because the fallen nature of man is in sin. Our lusts and passions can masquerade to assume a pious form, but God, who discerns the heart, knows where our request comes from. We need God’s searchlight to continually illuminate our intentions to see if they align with the ultimate will of God for our lives. David, the psalmist, knew this when he cried out to God, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” Psalm 139: 23 NIV. The Greek philosopher Epictetus said selfish personal interest is the motive behind all human conduct. So David prayed to God to show him his heart.
A man that has overcome selfishness can listen to God. Our will with that of God meets a confrontation in prayer. We must submit to the ultimate will of God if we must get answers from God. This is the wrestle in prayer; thy will be done! One may ask, but it’s God’s will I get blessed. The question is, what are your intentions for getting blessed? I want them healed from that infirmity! Yes, that is good. But am I praying in love to show God’s glory?! Love must be the centre of my prayer and guide my intentions as it aligns with the ultimate will of God! This is the kind of prayer that brings answers! We are praying in love according to the ultimate will of God.