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Series 1 - The Bible and You: Practical Answers—Real Hope

Hi, friends! Welcome to this Bible study lesson on "The Answer to Your Prayers." It has been exciting to hear stories from many people about how God has answered their prayers! But we all wonder why some prayers seem to go unanswered. What does God want us to do in these challenging situations? Join me in exploring this important subject in the Bible. And remember, we would love to hear from you and serve you in any way we can.

Lesson 9: The Answer to Your Prayers

Bible Study - The Answer to Your PrayersThe Bible shows that God answers prayers. But He doesn't answer all of our prayers, does He? What does the Bible say about how to receive an answer to your prayers?

Mike Hanisko, a pastor in Minnesota, tells this story:

"One Sabbath, shortly after arriving at the church hall in Anniston, Alabama, I was approached by a family whose 16-year-old son had broken his wrist the day before while running hurdles during track-and-field practice at his high school. The break was serious, with multiple fractures, and his family doctor, after taking X-rays, scheduled Mark to see a specialist the following Monday.

"Mark and his family asked me to anoint him [pray for his healing], which I did. On Monday they took the X-rays from Friday's exam and went to see the specialist. He examined Mark's wrist and ordered another set of X-rays to be done. After some delay, he told Mark and his family he could find no evidence of a break of any kind in Mark's wrist. He commented that he didn't know what was going on, but Mark's wrist was perfectly healthy.

"The following Sabbath, I expected to see Mark's wrist in a cast and was surprised when he came up to me to show me that his wrist was fine. He and his family still have the 'before and after' X-rays showing multiple fractures before the anointing and a perfectly healed wrist after the anointing."

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What Does the Bible Say About Answered Prayer?

You may have experienced a dramatic answer to a prayer or may know someone who has received a clear and positive answer. But it seems our prayers are not always answered. Why?

As you explore the Bible, you find that the God who created the universe has more than enough power to intervene in His creation in miraculous ways. But the Bible also shows He is not a cosmic genie, waiting to respond to our every wish and whim. What does God tell us in the Bible about which prayers He answers and when and how He chooses to do so? Let's look at some relevant scriptures. (To understand the context better, it can help to read an entire section or chapter.)

What did Daniel and his friends do in a life-and-death situation?

Daniel 2:17-19
Then Daniel went to his house, and made the decision known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions, that they might seek mercies from the God of heaven concerning this secret, so that Daniel and his companions might not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. Then the secret was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. So Daniel blessed the God of heaven.

The second chapter of Daniel makes exciting reading, as King Nebuchadnezzar sought someone to explain his disturbing dream, and then came to the conclusion that no one could do it and decided to kill all his wise men. But Daniel and his friends knew that God was more powerful than the king. God heard their prayers and saved their lives. Many exciting and encouraging examples like this are found throughout the Bible.

When Saul, who was killing Christians, was struck blind by God on his way to Damascus, what did he do?

Acts 9:3-12
As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" And he said, "Who are You, Lord?" Then the Lord said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads." So he, trembling and astonished, said, "Lord, what do You want me to do?" Then the Lord said to him, "Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do."
And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one. Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, "Ananias." And he said, "Here I am, Lord." So the Lord said to him, "Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying. And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight."

Jesus Christ got the attention of this zealous Pharisee! Saul must have prayed fervently during his three days of fasting (not eating or drinking).

What was God's answer to Saul's prayers?

Acts 9:17-18
And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit." Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized.

This Saul became the famous apostle Paul who wrote much of the New Testament. The miracle of healing his physical blindness was overshadowed by the far greater miracle of transforming his mind. This conversion process is actually the greatest miracle, one God wants for all people.

What attitude should we have when we approach the Creator of the universe?

Isaiah 66:2
"For all those things My hand has made, and all those things exist," says the Lord. "But on this one will I look: on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word."

Accurately seeing ourselves in relation to the greatest Being with all power helps us come to God with true humility. But in His great love, He encourages us not only to come, but to come boldly!

Hebrews 4:15-16
For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

What prayers does Jesus say He will answer?

John 14:14-15
"If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. If you love Me, keep My commandments."

Jesus told His followers—those who love Him and obey His commandments (1 John 3:22)—that they had permission to pray in His name! Can you imagine the wealthiest Being in the universe giving you a blank check with His signature on it? Being permitted to pray in Jesus' name is even more incredible than that!

But why does God not answer prayers sometimes?

James 4:1-3
Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.

Sometimes we forget to ask! Sometimes we ask for the wrong reasons, asking for things that are not according to God's will, or that God in His wisdom knows would not be the best for us. See also 1 John 5:14.

Did God always answer Daniel immediately?

Daniel 10:2-3, 11-13
In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled...
And he[an angel] said to me, "O Daniel, man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you." While he was speaking this word to me, I stood trembling.
Then he said to me, "Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia."

During those three weeks it would have been easy for Daniel to feel forgotten and unheard. But God did hear immediately, even though Daniel did not receive the answer right away. God allowed His angel to be delayed. God knows when it is helpful or necessary for us to be persistent in prayer (Luke 18:2-8).

Did God always answer yes to the apostle Paul?

2 Corinthians 12:7-10
And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Even when God's answer is "No, not yet," He always has our best interests in mind. For more about Paul, see "Paul: Apostle to the Gentiles."

How does God want us to pray?

Luke 11:1-13
Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples." So He said to them, "When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one."
And He said to them, "Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, 'Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him'; and he will answer from within and say, 'Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you'? I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.
"So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish?

Matthew 6:7-8, 14-15
"And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him...
"For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."

For more on how to pray, see our article The Privilege and Power of Prayer.


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God wants to hear from you today. Don't wait. Find a quiet place and talk to God. And make it a practice to ask God to help you understand His Bible each day as you begin your study. The benefits can be immediate—and eternal!

Next Lesson: What Is God's Will for Me?

Questions about this lesson? Feedback about this lesson?

Related Resources:

Whose Prayers Does God Hear?

The Privilege and Power of Prayer

A Woman's View of the Lord's Prayer

How's Your Prayer Life?