The subject of prayer usually brings forth much controversy. Especially when it comes to whether God hears and answers prayer. We should understand that God actually desires that we come to Him in prayer as His children. It is easily seen that nature declares that God provides. He has provided sleep for the weary and medicine for the ill. He has actually made us dependent upon Him. He not only desires such, but invites us to petition Him (Matthew 7:7, 11; 1 Peter 3:12; Hebrew 4:16). Yet, even with these scriptures in mind, people say that God hasn’t answered their prayers. But is their assertion true? In this article, let us briefly give careful consideration to the question of “Does God Answer Prayer?”

DOES GOD NOT ANSWER? – People actually deny His existence because they say He hasn’t answered their prayers. But how do we know He hasn’t answered them? Some may say, “Well, He didn’t give me what I asked for.” But does that prove that He didn’t answer the petition? Of course not, the fact is God did answer (James 4:3). Only He didn’t answer in accordance to our selfish requests.

GOD DOES ANSWER PRAYER! – When praying we need to understand that God answers in various ways. First, He may give what we ask and more. For example, Solomon prayed for wisdom, but got more (2 Chronicles 1:7-12). God gave him what he asked and more. God may only give what you request. Elijah prayed for rain, and God only gave him rain (1 Kings 17:1; James 5:17). God may give a substitute for that which we request. Paul prayed three times for the “thorn in his flesh” to be removed (2 Corinthians 12:7, 8). However, God did not give Paul what he requested; instead He made a substitution (2 Corinthians 12:9). God may, also, answer prayer by refusal of the request. Someone may say, “If God refuses, He does not answer. But that is untrue. As parents we must deny certain requests of our children due to varied circumstances. We answer “no”, but nevertheless we have answered. An example of this is seen in that God answered “no” to Jesus in the garden (Matthew 26:39).

PRAYER IS HINDERED – Often times we hinder prayer by certain things that we do. We hinder prayer by asking for something not in accordance to God’s will. God denied Jesus’ request in the garden for the “cup to pass” because it was not according to His will (Matthew 26:39). At times we force God into refusing because we ask for something contrary to His will (1 John 5:14, 15). Sometimes prayers are hindered because we ask amiss (James 4:3). To “ask amiss” is to ask with the wrong motives. Prayers are hindered because of the way we treat others. If we are unforgiving, our prayer of forgiveness will be hindered (Matthew 6:14, 15). As husbands we may hinder our prayer through failure to properly    honor our wives (1 Peter 3:7). If you treat your wife like a dog, I can guarantee your prayers are going to be hindered! Sin, in our lives, hinders our prayers (Isaiah 59:2; Proverbs 28:9).

GOD IS NOT AN “SOS” GOD – Some look upon God only as an “SOS” God. They look at Him as someone only to be called upon in time of trouble. We must realize that if we do not love and serve God in good times, we need not expect Him to bless us in bad times. People who never do anything for God are the ones who scream the loudest when it appears He isn’t listening. We must live righteously if we expect our prayers to be heard (1 Peter 3:12; John 9:31). We have no right to treat God as an “SOS God”. We should not expect for Him to be at our beckon call.

God answers all the prayers of the righteous. We have ample assurance of this from the Scriptures (Ephesians 3:20; 1 John 5:14, 15). However, we must be living properly in order to receive that promise.