Prayer I love my church.  And this weekend our pastor shared something that I knew I wanted to pass on to you.

His sermon gave example after example of Jesus teaching us to be “shamelessly persistent” in prayer.  Teaching us to ASK, SEEK and KNOCK – relentlessly!  Not because there is some magic formula for getting your prayers answered, but because He delights in you pursuing that kind of personal intimacy with Him.  (Luke 11 and Luke 18)

But wait a minute.

Do you ever feel like you pray and no one is listening?

Do you ever feel like God isn’t answering your prayers?

The truth is, God ALWAYS answers and He does it in one of four ways.

Here are the four ways God answers prayer:

  • God can say, NO.  Not usually what you want to hear.  Yet, it is important that you begin to believe if he says NO, it is for your good.  It often means He has something better – or perhaps he is protecting you.  How many times have you looked back, after the fact, and realized that if you had gotten what you wanted you would have missed something greater?
  • God can say, SLOW. This is one I have heard a lot over the years, and I have learned that this form of “not yet” is God telling me He is working on things.  I need to “cool my jets” while He is orchestrating events, people and circumstances that need to be in place before He can let me move forward. It’s hard to slow down in this fast paced – results now – culture.  But I know it is fool-hearty to run ahead of God’s perfect timing!
  • God can say, GROW.  This is God telling you that you’re not ready – you’ve got some growing to do.  That might be an “ouch”, but what He is really telling you is if he gave you what you’re asking for, you wouldn’t be able to handle it.  You see, when it comes to “kingdom building”, God is looking for people who will not only answer his call – but also persevere.  If He hands you too much success and responsibility before you are ready – He knows you will flame out like a shooting star.  Trust God in this.  Only He knows the level of spiritual maturity required to handle what He wants to give you!
  • God can say, GO.  Now this is what we usually want to hear. No waiting or preparation –  an immediate green light and you’re good to go!  Not only that, once you get the “go” signal – have you ever noticed that your prayers were too small?  That you underestimated all that God had in store?  Have you ever seen God give you an Ephesians 3:20 kind of answer?  Immeasurably more than all you could ask or imagine!  No wonder he has to give us the other three answers at times.  He knows we need to be properly prepared for the level of blessing He’s going to pour out on us!

Now here is the bottom line about prayer:

  • It is about pursuing  – and deepening – your relationship with God.
  • It is about growing in spiritual maturity.
  • It is about learning to listen for all four kinds of answers.
  • It is about trusting that God knows best.
  • It is about believing His answers are always perfect.
  • It is about knowing that God loves you!