Six Answers to Prayer

Woman praying at church in Saugus, MA 01906
April 29, 2015

We pray, and God answers.  Every time.  But sometimes we wonder if God’s really listening.  His answers are wiser than our prayers.  Here are 6 ways God replies when we pray:

Answer #1:  “No, I love you too much.”

A soldier once complained to me, “Chaplain, I prayed and God didn’t answer.”  My comeback:  “Yes He did–He said ‘No’!”  There is no such thing as “unanswered” prayer.  Sometimes we ask for things that will do us more harm than good.

C.S. Lewis recognized that if had God given him everything he’d asked for, his life would have been a mess!  Sometimes the most loving answer God can give is “No.”  He knows exactly what we need and He has our best interests in mind.

Answer #2:  “Yes, but you’ll have to wait.”

Nobody likes being put on hold.  We are an impatient people.  A favorite prayer of many is:  “God give me patience, and I want it right now.

We can call on God anytime with the assurance that He hears us immediately…but He doesn’t always respond right away.  Yet God’s timing is perfect.  Faith means trusting God even when our sense of timing disagrees with His.  God may appear slow but He’s never late.  The problem is–we’re in a hurry, but God isn’t.

Answer #3:  “Yes, but not what you expected.”

We pray to the God of the unexpected.  In God’s wisdom, He gives what is best, always…but not always what we anticipate.  Yet nothing is accidental!  Prayer gives us confidence to leave the results with God.  Those who see God’s hand in everything can best leave everything in God’s hands.  Unfortunately, “We often reject the good that God offers us because, at the moment, we expected some other good.”

Answer #4:  “Yes, and here’s more!”

Scripture guarantees that God “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,” Ephesians 3:20.  God meets our needs, and then some.  We are richly blessed.  Even in lean times, we sense God’s watch-care over us.  Have you ever gotten something you didn’t pray about?  I have.  When this happens, I think (with some guilt): “Wow–God met a need I didn’t even pray for; He knew my need better than I did!”

Answer #5:  “Not telling you!”

…Not an answer we like to hear, but God isn’t obligated to explain His ways.  We wonder why God allows suffering.  When someone we know is sick or injured, isn’t it God’s will that they be well?  Life is a mystery, and God doesn’t have to explain His purpose…plus we may not be capable of understanding the reasons; but it’s comforting to know there is a “why”; that there are reasons for God’s silence…and we can assume His silence is motivated by love and a far greater grasp of life than we’ll have this side of eternity.

Answer #6:  “Yes, I thought you’d never ask!”

 The problem here is that some of us feel it’s inappropriate, even selfish, to ask for personal requests…we’ll pray for anyone but ourselves.  Yet there’s nothing improper about praying for our needs.   Some people only pray for themselves in times of crisis…because God finally has their attention.

Conclusion:  Thomas Merton wrote, “The secret of prayer is a hunger for God.”  May we hunger for that place of quiet rest we find through prayer.  Let’s get praying–what are we waiting for?