How Do We Know
When God Really Answers?
Everyone prays but they don’t all get what they ask for. That isn’t because God doesn’t respond. He hears every prayer and like the father who takes joy in giving children what they want, He too looks for opportunities to grant our wish.
But, He’s not indulgent. Your every wish is not His command. Our prayers and His responses are tools that help us develop sensibilities. Prayer changes “things” because it first of all changes us. The need never changes and God never changes. The person praying is the only variable.
His answers make things possible not convenient or easy. Prayer is part investigation, part negotiation, and part activation. It was never intended to be a ceremony. Prayer at its most basic is conversation and the primary purpose is communication.
So, the question is what makes prayer effective? And the answer is:
Effective prayers are consistent with your actions not contradicted by them
Effective prayers are specific not vague.
Don’t be ambiguous. God knows what you need but He can’t supply it until you do. God can’t give you what you ask, till you know what to expect. Count your blessings don’t pray for one. You already have many.
Abraham is a great example here. When he prayed for Sodom and Gomorrah he was very specific and he knew when God answered his prayer.
Ask for something specific and if that prayer isn’t answered put it in one of two categories: “definitely out” or “come back to this later.” As best you can, obey the rules and keep things moving forward.
Effective prayers are compassionate not vengeful
Allow your heart to be permeated with the right attitude toward those who offend you. Jesus, after being humiliated, abused, and nailed to the cross compassionately prayed that God would forgive His adversaries.
We aren’t told how Joseph prayed but from his actions we know he wasn’t vengeful toward those who hurt him. We don’t know how the Good Samaritan prayed but it is doubtful he prayed for the demise of his feuding neighbors, the Jews. His compassionate response to an injured Jewish traveler is a great example to all of us and probably reflected a genuinely caring prayer life. Although rejected and oppressed by his Jewish neighbors, he refused to act in kind. Maybe he had prayed for an opportunity to show he forgave them.
Abraham again is a good example. He detested Sodom and he had good reason not to wish anything good on Lot, whose selfishness had cost him good grazing land. But, instead of praying for Sodom’s destruction or for Lot’s demise he asked God to spare Lot. Had to be a difficult prayer for him to offer.
Effective prayers are committed not casual
Answered prayer will cost you something. It’s easy to pray but not always easy to handle the answers either way. A no answer means more searching. A yes answer means more moving. If you ask God to bless your business you will need to be better organized and more diligent so you can handle greater activity.
God’s response to prayer creates opportunities, it rarely makes things more convenient. Prayer is asking God to allow us to do something more, to move further and reach greater accomplishments. After you pray, be ready to act.
So, not only must pray be preceded and accompanied by appropriate actions it must also be followed by appropriate actions. Joshua is a good example.
After leading his army all night long to the battle field, carrying full battle gear, and fighting a full day without rest, he then prayed God would make the sun stand still so they could fully defeat their enemy. The battle wasn’t finished. More work needed to be done and Joshua knew the most efficient way to get the job done was to carry on fighting, not giving the enemy time to regroup. God answered his prayer and Joshua along with his men continued fighting even though they must have been exhausted.
God answered that prayer because He know Joshua was committed. He could be relied on.
Effective prayers are conditioned on humility not perfection
The conditions to effective praying do not include personal perfection.
You must be honest about your imperfections, yes. You must humbly aim for improvement, yes. But your prayers can be perfectly appropriate even if you aren’t perfectly sinless.
Who better to illustrate this than King David. He committed adultery and murder. Others were complicit in his crimes. Joab was an accessory to the murder. But, though David sinned terribly and paid a heavy price, his repentance was great. It was his humility not his perfection that made answers to pray possible.
Even these five elements to effective praying must be balanced with our imperfections. They are guidelines not laws. God hears us because He is gracious. He answers because He loves us.
God never stops listening so never stop praying and you can confidently expect Him to answer the prayer offered in the right attitude even though we aren’t absolutely right.
Heaven Is For Real is a bio of a “near death” experience (NDE) but without all the “weird” and “sketchy” images that usually accompany such stories.
My review takes a positive approach. I believe Colton’s experience was genuine and his report is as accurate as any retelling of an event can be. And since heaven is not only real but very close we shouldn’t be surprised when it bleeds through occasionally.
The story is different in that it doesn’t focus on “long tunnels with lights at the end” or the sensation of watching medical personnel feverishly operate from a hovering out-of-body perspective. It is a matter of fact story shared from the perspective of an almost four-year-old child who had no preconceived ideas beforehand and explains everything casually. To him it wasn’t strange.
Rob Bell’s Love Wins doesn’t endorse universalism or deny hell. It doesn’t make light of sin or encourage anyone to party now and repent later. Rob explores questions left unanswered and mostly ignored by Bible believing people. Don’t be over influenced by what others say. Get the book inexpensively at Amazon, think through the issues, and speak for yourself.