When Prayer Falls on Deaf Ears
"If we ask anything according to God's will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the request which we have asked from him."1
A Daily Encounter subscriber writes, "Being the doubting Thomas that I am, I feel that my prayers fall on deaf ears and my wife and I even argue about the effect of prayer today. If the power of prayer were effective today, I feel there would be less death, sickness, and turmoil. I struggle with it all."
Certainly at times it can be difficult to understand why some prayers seem to get answered while others seem to never get answered. However, we also need to realize that sometimes God answers, "Yes" … sometimes "no" … sometimes, "wait a while." So, what makes the difference?
First, pray in harmony with God's will. To get a "yes" answer to prayer, as today's Scripture points out, it is essential that all of our prayers are in harmony with God's will. When we pray accordingly, we have the assurance that God both hears and answers our prayers. To know how to pray in harmony with God's will, we need to know what God's Word, the Bible, teaches. Of this we can be certain, God will never answer a prayer that is opposed to his Word.
Second, pray the right prayer. Realize that some prayers don't get answered because we aren't praying the right prayer; that is, we may be praying with wrong motives. As God's Word also points out: "You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures."2
Third, pray about causes. Another wrong prayer is when we want and ask God to deliver us from the symptoms of problems while we are in denial about or are avoiding facing and praying about the cause/s of the problem. For example, if we have stomach ulcers, there is no point asking God to heal this problem if we don't face and deal with the cause of the ulcers. In most cases it's not what we eat that cause stomach ulcers, but rather what is "eating" us, which could be stress, guilt caused by unconfessed sin, an impaired relationship, or any of a hundred other causes—especially including super-charged repressed negative emotions. As John Powell has said, "When I repress my emotions, my stomach keeps score."
Fourth, Pray believing. Faith, too, is essential for effective prayer. As Jesus said, "All things, whatever you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive,"3 and "according to your faith will it be done to you."4
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please give me a love for learning what Your Word, the Bible, teaches so that I will always know how to pray in harmony with Your will. Also help me to see anything that I may be contributing to the problems I am experiencing, and help me always to pray believing and with the right motives. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus's name, amen."
For additional help, see the article, "How to Get Prayer Answered," at: http://www.actsweb.org/articles/article.php?i=114&d=1&c=10&p=1.
1. 1 John 5:14-15 (NIV).
2. James 4:2-3 (NIV).
3. Matthew 21:22 (NIV).
4. Matthew 9:29 (NIV).