Sunday, February 8, 2009

Why Prayers Aren't Answered - Part II

An Examination on Why Prayers Are Not Answered
Part One: God's Will For Your Life

Prayers are often offered up to God as an expression of our will towards Him. We desire to achieve certain statuses or obtain certain gifts, and so we ask God to give them to us. This has become the normal method of how prayer works, especially in Western culture. In fact, prayer itself is synonymous with "asking for stuff."

God, please give me safe travels.

God, please let this date go really well tonight. I like this girl a lot.

God, please give me the words to say during this job interview, because I think this job is what I should be doing with my life.

God, please bless my business and help my income.

There are also things that we ask that seem to be related to different things:

God, please heal my mother of her cancer.

It's only natural to take our cares and wants to God. When our world seems so caught up in what we want, what our goals are, we, in our self-centered mentalities, think that God must be keen on giving us those things, because they are important to Him too.

But perhaps God doesn't want the same things we do.

It's a rather self explanatory concept. If you ask God for something, and you don't get it, it is likely because God does not want you to have that particular item, or status, or even level of health. He, as the all-powerful Creator of the Universe, most likely views his desire for your life as more important, and in fact better for you, than your own. As Delta Goodrem says, "When we're busy makin' plans, God laughs.

First, I must explain what "God's will" means. Is it a micromanaging of your life, so that you do not have free will? No. Is it something we are forced to follow? Certainly not.

God's will is the basic idea for how God wants your life to go. His will is anything that he desires to occur in your life.

How do we discern this will? Through many things, I would suggest. But perhaps the biggest suggesting factor for God's will is our prayer, because it is a form of directly asking God for something and directly observing the results.


Gentlemen, suppose you met a woman and you have fallen head over heels. You have been dating her for a long time, and the relationship has begun to get pretty serious. Understandably, you are now wondering if she is the
one for you. What would you do to discern this?

If you are a Christian, perhaps you would pray the following prayer:

God, thank you for blessing me with Jane. She's a wonderful woman and my life has been incredible ever since she came into it. But now I'm wondering if this is the woman you want me to marry and spend the rest of my life with. Can you help me discern whether or not this is the case? Is she your will for my life?

Soon, you begin to pick up on various things about Jane that you hadn't noticed before. Some of them are rather troubling. She has strange nervous habits that make you uncomfortable. The way she laughs begins to sound piercing and irritating to you. Your nagging feeling in your stomach of uncertainty has only increased since you prayed that prayer.

It could all be coincidence. But one could suggest that perhaps this was God's way of showing you that Jane is
not who he has in mind for you.[1]

Biblical Support

Is this idea of God answering prayers according to His will Biblical? It sure is.
First John 5:14 says this:

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.

Delta Goodrem appears to agree with Proverbs 16:9, where it says:

A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.

Ephesians 1:11 describes God as one who "who works out everything
in conformity with the purpose of his will."

Daniel 4:35 offers this hyperbolic and anthropomorphic description to illustrate the power of God's will:

All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing.
He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth.

And, of course, we have Jesus himself telling us in the model for prayer to ask for God's will to be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.


The point of all of this is very simple:
  1. Prayer, in this particular example, is the act of asking God to give you something.
  2. In order for God to do something on your behalf, he has to want to do it (God's will).
  3. If God does not want to do it, God will not answer your prayer positively.
  4. Therefore, God answering prayer is entirely contingent on his own will.
© P-Dunn's Apologetics 2009. All rights reserved.

[1] There is great debate as to whether God actually does plan out who you should be marrying. This may not have been the most air-tight example as a result, but I used it because the average Christian tends to believe that God does take an interest in our future spouses.