Lesson 9: The Answer to Your Prayers
The 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
"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?
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?
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
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?
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
"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!
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?
"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
But why does God not answer prayers sometimes?
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
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?
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.
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
Next Lesson: What Is God's Will for Me?
Questions about this lesson? Feedback about
Does God Hear?
Privilege and Power of Prayer
View of the Lord's Prayer
Your Prayer Life?