God always answers our prayers with a “Yes,” “No,” or “Wait,” but why does he sometimes answer “Yes” and sometimes with these other two options? We must accept that God is not required to always tell us why he does or does not do certain things. He is sovereign and he loves us, therefore no matter how he answers our prayers, we can always trust him.
But when we study the Bible about answered prayers, it does seem certain themes keep popping up. So here are four common biblical ingredients found in the type of prayers God often answers with a “Yes.”
From Genesis to Revelation, it’s not hard to see that God favors those who are humble and opposes those who are proud. For example, in James 4:6-10 it states:
But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.”
James 4:3 also states, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” Selfishness and pride are always tied together because when we think too highly of ourselves we always put ourselves first.
So much more could be said here, but it suffices to say that God truly does grant favor to the humble, for as Proverbs 22:4 states, “The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life.”
By “biblical prayers” I mean prayers that are aligned with God’s will. If you want to know what God wants, all you need to do is read your Bible. If you ask God for something that contradicts God’s truth or contradicts his plan, he will not answer that prayer with a “Yes.” For as 1 John 5:14-15 states:
And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.”
It’s certainly not wrong to ask God for things that are not a part of his plan for you. God wants you to pray about everything to him. But it is wrong if we get mad at God when he does not do what we want. Rather, we must seek to have the same attitude of Jesus who prayed for something that was not in accordance with God’s final will for him. In Matthew 26:39 Jesus asked, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”
May we pray like Jesus, asking boldly for the desires of our hearts, while submitting to the Father’s will even when he says “No” to our will.
James 5:16 (NIV) states, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” If God is a God of grace, why does he give more power to prayers offered by righteous people? Is that not a merit-based system rather than a grace-based system?
I don’t believe God is rewarding righteous people with the gift of answered prayers. Rather, the reward of being righteous is having the type of character that aligns with what God wants, which causes you to pray prayers God wants to answer. What does it mean to be righteous anyways? It means you live in a way that accords with God’s righteous commands.
It just makes sense that if you are someone who is obeying God closely, you will also be the type of person whose prayers are humbly in accordance with his will, which causes you to have powerful prayers.
Faith is essential to receiving a “Yes” from God because faith is our confession that the good we seek can only come from him. God will often wait to bless us until we know that he is the source of that blessing. Why? Because one of the primary motivations God always has is glory. You won’t glorify God for a gift until you have the faith to believe that gift is from him. As James 1:6-8 explains:
But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”