God does answer prayers

‘…….whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours’ (Mark 11:24)

One of the biggest reasons people leave Christianity is because they have had too many unanswered prayers. It’s because of these unanswered prayers that many have concluded that God is a liar and prayer doesn’t work. In anger people then decide to leave Christianity for good and become atheists. But are they right in their conclusion that prayer doesn’t work, and God never answers prayers? Perhaps you are one of those people who were so vibrant in prayer, but you found that all your prayers were always not getting answered, to a point where you decided to leave Christianity altogether. If you are, then I would like you to give me this opportunity to tell you what the bible says about prayer.  

Matthew Hagee in one of his sermons once said: Prayer is not a monologue, prayer is a dialogue. He went on to compare some people’s idea of prayer to a drive-thru service. He said people expect God to be the guy who takes their order and give them whatever they want in whichever way they want it. If prayer is a dialogue, then how could you have a fruitful dialogue with a person you don’t have any relationship with? It’s impossible! For a dialogue to be fruitful, both parties involved should have some kind of a relationship as a basis for dialogue. The reason different governments build relationships with one another, through embassies and presidential visits, is to create a solid foundation to serve as a basis for future bilateral dialogues and agreements. If governments need to have solid relationships with one another before any dialogues can be entered into, then how much more important is the relationship between God and a person before any prayer dialogue?

We as people refuse to recognise the seriousness of sin in God’s eyes. We would like to think God’s love makes it easy for Him to overlook our sins and lead Him to answer our prayers regardless. But the opposite is true! In Isaiah 59 verse 2, the bible says: ‘but your iniquities have separated you from God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that He will not hear’. This verse states it clearly that it’s impossible to have a relationship with God when we have sins in our hearts. It says because of our sins, we have been separated from God, which makes it impossible for God to listen to us when we pray to Him. As we have already said, prayer is a dialogue. So if you are separated from God, like prophet Isaiah said, then how could you engage with Him in a dialogue? It’s impossible!

So should we be surprised then when we have so many unanswered prayers, and should we really blame God? No. God has standards that He has set for us to follow, if we are to receive answers to our prayers. He first wants to us to have a solid relationship with Him, a relationship that is not tainted by our sin. How do we have that relationship? We have it by accepting His forgiveness of our sins. The only way our sins could be taken away from us, is when we confess them to God and ask Him for forgiveness. Through Jesus Christ, God has devised a way in which our sins can be absolutely wiped off our hearts, so we can have a solid relationship with God.

In simple terms, God is unable to answer prayers from a person who is not born-again. By being born-again, the bible refers to an acceptance of the atonement of one’s sins through Jesus Christ’s death on the cross. When Jesus was crucified, our sins were placed on Him as compensation for you to be able to have a relationship with God, to enable you to have a fruitful dialogue with Him. Many people would find this biblical reality difficult to swallow. To them, God should be able to answer everybody’s prayer without any regard for their personal relationship with Him. They want God’s provisions, but they are not interested in Him. To them God is a drive-thru, you buy whatever you want and leave. Unfortunately for many people who are now atheist, they found God unmoved by their attempt to treat Him as a drive-thru. As such they have decided to rebel against God forever.

Prayer is a means created by God for people to have dialogue with Him, and since He’s the Creator of prayer, He reserved the right to establish procedures governing it as well. So there’s no use being angry at God when you are the one who wasn’t prepared to play by His rules. Unfortunately for many people, they were never aware that prayer is being governed by God’s procedures that He has put in place. They never knew that if sin is cherished in one’s heart then God doesn’t listen to that prayer. They were not aware that being born-again is a prerequisite for God’s answer to prayer. But now that you know, what are you going to do? Should you continue holding hatred for God in your heart when He wasn’t at fault? No, this should be an opportunity for you to be reconciled to God. But you say how am I going to be reconciled with God, when He doesn’t answer prayers from people who have sins in their heart? The answer to that question is very exciting!

There is only one prayer that God answers regardless of a person’s relationship with Him. You can have all kinds of sins in your heart, but even they can’t stand in the way of this prayer being answered by God. God describing it said ‘if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and ears attentive to the prayers offered……’ (2 Chronicles 7:14). Let’s look at what God says in detail:

1. God is referring to sinners

By ‘my people’, God is referring to sinners like you and I, who have drifted away from him.

2. Humbleness

To recognise one’s sins, and confess them to God requires a loss of pride. In his pride, a man can never admit that he has sinned.

3. Repentance

God asks us to turn away from our sins, and look to a new direction that only He can offer.

4. God will answer our prayer

Even though we are sinners and God’s righteousness doesn’t allow Him to listen to prayers offered by sinners, on this occasion He promises to listen to our prayer because it’s made from a humble heart with the purpose of seeking forgiveness from Him.

5. This prayer is a beginning of a new relationship with God

By saying ‘now my eyes will be open and ears attentive to the prayers offered’, God assures us that after we have prayed this prayer then only then would he listen to any kind of prayer we offer to Him afterwards.

So a sinner’s prayer is a channel God uses to open up new relations between Himself and people. Just as our government send special envoys to facilitate dialogue with estranged governments before formal relations can begin, so it is with God as well. He sent Jesus Christ to facilitate a reunion between us and Him, before formal relations can begin and prayers can be made and answered.

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