If we’re honest, I suspect we’ve each grappled with questions about prayer at some point in our lives. Maybe even at this point in our lives.
When our youngest was little, he struggled to understand what prayer was all about. His questions sprang from the fact that he didn’t see God answering prayers in his own life. As adults, we know God answers in different ways. But a child, who thinks concretely, has a difficult time accepting this.
One day, a friend caught him a newt. Edmund needed to find earthworms to feed his new pet. We said a quick prayer, and then both boys scrambled into the backyard to dig in the dirt.
Even as adults, understanding the workings of prayer and how God views prayer can feel beyond us.
Thoughts on prayer
Is it possible we don’t see God’s answers to prayer because we’re looking for the wrong thing? Let’s consider a few questions that have come up as I’ve explored prayer personally and in various online arenas.
Praying for the same thing
First, why should we continue to pray when we feel like our prayers are always the same because our needs don’t really change?
Prayer can be similar to manna. Does God know our needs? Yes. So why do we pray each day for the same kinds of things?
Because each day we pray, we’re reminded God is still listening. Still answering. In lifting thoughts and needs to Him, we receive spiritual nourishment daily, like the Israelites in the desert.
Our Father knows our hearts, but He also enjoys communing with us. A little like how my sons, when they were young, came to me each day with a specific question. “Mom, what are we having for supper?”Good Perspectives for Our Questions About Prayer—Our Father knows our hearts, but He also enjoys communing with us. #tellhisstory #prayer #questionsaboutprayer Click To Tweet
They may not have known what I was preparing but they knew they’d be fed. And I smiled because they asked. We may have even had our own little verbal dance with the answer to that question.
Maybe prayer is a little like this. God knows our needs, but He still delights when we humble ourselves and trust those needs to Him for one more day. He doesn’t view our bringing the same cares before Him each day as a burden. Instead, He sees it as an opportunity to commune with us.
Each morning, Hubs and I exchange prayer requests for our days. Most of the time, they are pretty similar. But I love praying for my guy, knowing I’m lifting him and his needs to the Lord fresh for that day.
Why hasn’t God answered my prayer after years of praying?
I still struggle with this question. There isn’t a pat answer for why God sometimes seems silent. What has helped me in those times are these thoughts:
- God is sovereign. And in His sovereignty, He acts in love toward us. Our Father loves us and knows what’s best for us, even when we don’t embrace, understand, or agree at the moment.
- God always hears our prayers. Our Father’s seeming silence does not equate to His not caring, ignoring, or disregarding our prayers.
- Sometimes, God is putting other things in place in our lives before He answers.
- When He doesn’t respond in our time frame, our Father is still acting. He works in our hearts, conforming us to the image of His Son. God strips away the veneers we’ve put in place so we become more like Jesus. He also moves in others’ lives when we walk in faith while waiting for His answer.
Shifting our perspective
Sometimes, we need to shift our perspectives about God’s seeming silence. I’ve been guilty of taking those silences personally and attributing His lack of an answer to my perceived unworthiness. If this is a belief we hold, we need to ask the Lord for a more accurate understanding of how He views us.
Here’s a hint: God views us through eyes of love. Not judgment. Not unworthiness.
Our questions about prayer don’t intimidate or bother God.
We can become disheartened and cynical when we’ve prayed for years for something. We must evaluate any expectations we have of God. Choose to trust that He has our good (and our loved one’s good) at the heart of His decisions.
Surrender is a humbling action. Yet, it’s in surrendering that we find eventual peace in the silence.
The essence of prayer is talking with our Father about what’s on our hearts and bringing our questions about prayer before Him.
Prayer is about us communing with God. He’s not judging us on our presentation; He’s listening to our hearts. He doesn’t decide whether or not to answer by how perfectly we word our oration.
God delights in talking with us. Just as we may have smiled when our littles ran to us with their exuberance to ask a question, crawled into our laps for some cuddles, or wanted clarification on a topic, our Father smiles when we want to connect with Him. So, of course, He’s not critiquing the method of our prayers.
Back to earthworms. As our sons dug, sunshine glinting on their hair, they found several worms! God answered that prayer concretely. Though they haven’t always held to that childlike faith, God continues to answer their prayers and Hubs’ and my prayers for them.
As we each grapple with our questions about prayer in our relationships with the Lord, let’s land on these truths:
God loves us always.
He is forever unchanging and trustworthy.
Our Father does hear our prayers.
He will answer our prayers.
Let’s be like the persistent widow and continue to come before Him with our hearts.
What about you? What questions about prayer do you grapple with? What is your most powerful answer to a prayer you prayed?Come share your story at the Tell His Story linkup. Connect and be encouraged by like-minded friends! #tellhisstory #linkup Click To Tweet
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Jeanne, I’m smiling about the “what’s for supper?” question because I get it quite often, especially when my college girl is home. Not every answer elicits excitement, but she keeps asking. 🙂 I’m sure there’s another application to prayer in there somewhere, but I’ll stick with what you’ve said. 🙂 So many important truths, and such a comfort to know that God never tires of hearing from us, even if it’s the same thing over and over. Reminds me of reading the same book to my girls when they were little. “Is Your Mama A Llama?” never got old, and I wanted to read it with them because I love them. Thanks for this wonderful post, friend.
Lois, thanks for your encouragement. My guys loved hearing the same book over and over too, when they were young. 🙂
What good reminder that God delights to hear our prayers. Lots of good insights here, Jeanne.
Thanks so much for your visit and your encouragement, Kathy!
Jeanne, I love that whether or not my words are intelligible or my prayers “important”, God hears and regards them. I love your example of “What’s for supper?” I go to Him because I know He will meet my needs. Beautiful encouragement, friend!
I agree, Tammy. I’m so glad God hears our hearts more than our words. I go to Him because I know He will meet my needs too. 🙂 Thanks so much for stopping by!
Jeanne, thank you for your perspectives about prayer. I love the visual of your sons and earthworms. I love prayer with God and always feel like he is answering them. Most of the time it is in ways I would of never thought.
Deborah, I appreciate your encouragement. Sometimes, I have to remind myself that God will answer my prayers. 🙂 He is always faithful, though. He does hear our prayers. And our Father promises to answer them.
“God knows our needs, but He still delights when we humble ourselves and trust those needs to Him for one more day.” I was just questioning about prayer this morning! I do see prayer as a time of reflection that can calm anxious thoughts. Your words remind me that we are to humble ourselves, and cast all our cares on Him, and prayer does that, doesn’t it?
Lynn, prayer can definitely be something God uses to calm anxious thoughts. The more I study and ponder prayer, the more I realize how very important a heart of humility is to the Lord. Yes, prayer definitely humbles us and helps us cast our cares on Him!
Great post Jeanne! The greatest answers to prayer I’ve had are those that involve my love ones in coming to know Him as their Lord & Saviour.
One such prayer was answered after 40 years of praying for two dear loved ones, they gave their hearts to Him on the same day together! What rejoicing & many happy tears were shed!
Jennifer, seeing loved ones come to the Lord are some of the best answers to prayer, aren’t they? I loved reading about how two of your loved ones gave their hearts to the Lord on the same day! I imagine there may have been a few tears that day. 🙂
Many happy tears Jeanne. 🤗
I think prayer is one of those things that we will never fully understand, but I like how you link it with manna and I love the reminder that God loves us to come to him each day even if we often pray about the same things.
I think one of the most memorable answers to prayer I’ve seen is several years ago when I was at the beach with some friends and one of them realised they had lost the key to the place where they were staying. We had been there for a few hours and had been all over the beach, so finding the key seemed like an impossible task. After looking for a while with no success, someone suggested praying. I don’t think any of us had great expectation but it was worth a try. As soon as we looked up we saw a man walking across the beach with a metal detector. Someone ran to ask him for help and we found the key in about 30 seconds! It was such a clear answer to prayer even though our faith was so imperfect and it has always stuck in my mind.
Lesley, I agree. I don’t know that I’ll ever fully understand prayer on this side of heaven. Your story about the lost key is amazing. 🙂 I LOVE how/when God shows up in those ways, answering our prayers so perfectly. WHat a great example to hold onto of God’s faithfulness. Thanks for sharing it here, friend!
Jeanne, I appreciate your response to the question of God answering our prayers: God is sovereign, God always hears, God brings alignment and deals with timing, and He is always acting on our behalf even if we don’t see or feel it. Sometimes, we must encourage ourselves in the Lord (as David did!) in the area of prayer, and I appreciate your encouragement today.
This is how I process God answering our prayers, and how I recently answered a friend who asked if prayers made a difference.
I believe God answers all prayers. Sometimes He says, “Yes.” Sometimes He says, “No.” And sometimes He says, “Wait.” We don’t always appreciate the answer we receive or the timing of the answer, but I believe He answers us.
And sometimes God asks human vessels to be His arms and feet, but they don’t obey, so the manifestation of the answer isn’t expressed on the earth – though that was His heart and will.
And sometimes the other side interferes as we see when Daniel prayed, and the answer was delayed 3 weeks by demonic beings.
So, He hears our prayers, He answers our prayers, but the manifestation of the answer is sometimes different than what we expect and that is where trust or doubt appear before us, and we have to make a choice on which way we will believe and walk out our belief.
Lisa, I so appreciate your persepctive about answered prayer! Your thoughts about the manifestation of the answer to a prayer not always shwoing up on earth was one I haven’t really considered before. I would definitely agree that God’s answer to our prayers may manifest differently than we expect. True, when God answers differently than we anticipated, we always have the choice of how we’ll respond and which way we’ll walk out our belief. Thought-provoking words here! Thank you for sharing!
Someone said that the saying “Prayer changes things” should be amended to “Prayer changes us.” Just as an earthly father has to say “no” or “not now,” our even wiser and more loving heavenly Father does as well. The better we know Him, the more we can trust Him even when circumstances aren’t what we want.
Barbara, I completely agree! Prayer changes US. You’re right. As we seek to know the Father better, we will be able to trust Him more easily and completely. Thanks for sharing your insights here, friend!
Thank you for these encouraging reminders, Jeanne. It’s such a comfort to know God never tires of us bringing the same cares to Him again and again. And this – “God views us through eyes of love. Not judgment. Not unworthiness.” It always helps to focus on His faithful character and His view towards us. Love and blessings to you!
Trudy, I’m so glad you found encouragement in this post! I completely agree. Focusing on God’s character and grasping how He views us helps so much as we discover more about praying and trusting Him.
Enjoyed your thoughts on prayer.
Thanks so much, my friend!
If you can say This Is The Worst,
the worst had not come yet.
William Shakespeare said it first,
and I am gonna bet
that he was talking through his hat,
drinking real ale with his mates,
not really knowing where it’s at,
and relishing the fates
that let him pontificate
about a world he didn’t know.
I would love to set him straight,
but it’s too far to go
with all the knowledge I have found
to rail at playwright in the ground.
Ahhhh, Andrew. You’ve definitely learned a lot about what “worst” looks like. And for that, I’m sorry. I guess we only understand “worst” as we live through our current “worst.” Your words about the Bard made me smile. I’m praying for you and Barb, my friend.