This is not meant to be an exhaustive study on prayer, using the word "exhaustive" to mean complete and also producing fatigue !
It came to me at Two o'clock in the morning, one reason why God does not answer prayer, and by that I mean grant the prayer's fulfillment is that it is not essential to God's plans and will that the matter being prayed about comes about.
In some cases the matter being prayed about is contrary to his will.
God also answers and meets prayer requests that might not be essential to his plans, but does it because it makes us happy.
To think of examples...Marriage is one case.
Should one marry or not ?
Who should one marry ?
I have two friends who I have kept in touch with since my university days, 25 years ago.
Two of us are married with children, but one isn't.
I can see how the case of Eddie is such that God can use him much better as a single Christian man than if he were married. He lives overseas and I can see how it is easier for him to get accomodation and be involved in the church as a single person. he also has less monetary needs as a single person without the financial commitments wife and house bring with it, and as such can work part-time to support himself and work un-paid for his church.
So in this case it seems God's will for him was to be unmarried so that he could better devote himself to God's purposes, similar to the apostle Paul.
Another example is a man I know called Cyril, this man a confirmed bachelor used to attend a Christian bible Study Group, and when prayer requests were mentioned, brought forward his "request" for a wife. He really wanted to be married. Some of the older married men used to point out to him, when their wives were out of ear-shot, that marriage wasn't exactly a Utopia and that he should be glad he wasn't married.
What did God do ?
Well, God found him a wife, in the form of a widow of a suitable age and when they got married, all the neighbourhood turned up at their wedding service. That was about 15 years ago and now in their 70s - 80s are still going strong.
So in this case God answered the prayer request to make Cyril and Irene happy.
When I was at university studying Chemistry I knew I wanted to have a career as a "man in a white coat", as a scientist and God gave me 17 years in the pharmaceutical industry with a variety of laboratory and factory based duties.
My career in pharmaceuticals came to a definite end through redundancy (downsizing) and after several short-term office/computer related jobs I am not working at the moment.
God is meeting my financial and other needs whilst without a job, and as I don't have a job at present I can only conclude since I am making myself available for employment that it is not essential to God's purposes that I have a job.
In fact it may be that God wants me to choose to devote time that is made available, when I would be working, to proclaiming the Gospel by the internet.
So this is a case of God answering prayer and providing a satisfying career and occupation and also a period of time when prayers for a job appear to go unanswered.
There is an example in the Bible, of God answering the prayers of his people, the Jews, and granting their request for a King, even though God knew it would be to their detriment.
I can look back to episodes in my life where God has allowed me to go down desired paths which would not be to my benefit in the long term.
So what is the answer ?
Pray as you would believe God would have you for situations that come into your life. Come to an awareness that if you commit yourself to going God's way you will be going the best way.
Understand that answers to prayer may be Yes (granted), No (not granted), Not yet (wait)
Author: Michael Fowler September 2000
What the Bible says
1Pe:5:7: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
Ph'p:4:6: Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
Ph'p:4:7: And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
We should not worry, but should bring our requests to God, then we will have God's peace in our lives.
Joh:14:13: And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
Joh:14:14: If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
God promises to answer prayers.
Joh:16:23: And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.
Joh:16:24: Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.
God promises to answer prayers.
M't:7:7: Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
M't:7:8: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
M't:7:9: Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?
M't:7:10: Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?
M't:7:11: If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?
God promises to answer prayers, and give good things to those who ask.
M't:6:33: But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Seeking first to follow God's will for your life, God will meet your material needs.
M't:21:22: And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.
We should ask believeing God will meet our requests.
Joh:15:7: If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
God answering our prayers is conditional on us abiding in Jesus.
Jeremiah:29:11: For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (R.S.V.)
God has plans for our lives.
Proverb:3:5: Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
Proverb:3:6: In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
Proverb:3:7: Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.
Proverb:3:8: It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.
Proverb:3:9: Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase:
Proverb:3:10: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.
God wants us to trust in him for guidance (the direction of our paths)
M't:6:9: After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
M't:6:10: Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
The key thing is that we want God's will to be done, and that means recognising that we need to pray for his will to be done and not our own.
James:4:3: When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with the wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. (N.I.V.)
We need to ask in prayer with the right motives...that God's will be done.
Ro:12:2: And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
We can know what God's will is through our minds being transformed.
Author: Michael Fowler, September 2000
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