How to Know If Prayers Are Answered
"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."1
A Daily Encounter reader asks, "How can you know when and if God has answered your prayers? Some in our group feel it's only when something big happens—like miracles in the Bible. Others feel that it's also when prayers for little things are answered. For example, recently I badly needed money for food and gas and prayed that God would provide. Soon after I found $20. I felt this was a direct answer to prayer. One friend felt this was just a coincidence. So how can we know for sure if and when God has answered our prayers?"
If I needed $20 and had been responsible with my money, I wouldn't hesitate to ask God to provide for my need. If I then found $20 and couldn't find who lost it, I'd surely thank God for answering my prayer. At times I have had immediate answers to prayer. At other times it has taken longer … for some it has taken several years. Some people say God answers our prayers according to his timing. I think, however (depending on the nature of the request), more often than not it has more to do with our timing—that is, when we are ready and able to handle the answer.
Sometimes we can only know for certain if God has answered our prayers when we look back over time and can see more clearly how God has led and provided.
A lot also depends on our attitude of mind. Most of us believe what we want to believe; that is, what is the most convenient for us to believe. If we want to believe God answered our prayer when we saw the evidence, we will believe. If we don't want to believe (regardless of the evidence), we won't believe.
If we are truly committed to the Lord and pray in faith, we can usually see when our prayers have been answered. In fact God answers every sincere prayer when prayed in faith. Keep in mind, however, sometimes God's answer is yes … sometimes it is no … sometimes it is wait a while … and sometimes it is that you are praying the wrong prayer—a prayer with the wrong motive or praying for deliverance from (or healing of) a symptom without praying about the cause/s.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you that you hear and answer every sincere prayer that comes from my heart. Please help me to pray the right prayer with the right motive—and help me to discern when and how you answer my prayers. Thank you for hearing and answering this prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
See "How to Pray Effectively" at: http://www.actsweb.org/articles/article.php?i=26&d=1&c=2&p=1.
1. James 4:2-3 (NIV).