Sometimes when we pray, we receive answers the way we expect. Other times when we pray, we don’t.
Paul the apostle prayed to God three times to remove the thorn in his flesh. We don’t know exactly what the thorn was or whether it was something physical or spiritual. God answered Paul’s cries by saying, “… My grace is sufficient for you …” (2 Cor. 12:9).
Like Paul, there are others of God’s most faithful men and women in the Bible whose prayers were not answered. Having faith does not guarantee an answered prayer the way we expect it. It also does not necessarily mean we lack faith if our prayers are not answered. There are people with faith who’ll not get their prayers answered the way they expect.
God can see the past, the beginning from the end. Sometimes we pray for a temporal issue and God says, “I will answer your prayer, but it will be something much larger.” We respond by getting upset, because it was not the way we expected it to be answered.
A Greater Answer to Prayer
Sometimes God answers our prayers beyond our expectations and in a way that brings greater blessings. We must allow God the power to override our prayers by letting Him answer in His way and in His time. Like a bus driver, God is in the driver’s seat of our lives and has the power to override our prayers. Consequently, it is for our own protection when our requests are denied. We must be grateful because, often times, we do not pray for God’s best!
Principles of Prayer
God can help us develop a spirit of excellence as we deal not with the issues being prayed about, but our hearts.
1. Always Pray with Thanksgiving, Regardless of Your Expectations
Always pray with a heart of thanksgiving, regardless of our expectations. Understand that God, in His infinite wisdom, knows what’s best for our lives, and thus we …
“Pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:17-18).
In everything, give thanks, for this is God’s will, regardless of the circumstances. If our hearts don’t change, the circumstances will, as time goes by. Without a thankful heart, it is easy to become susceptible to bitterness, resentment and discouragement, and we tend to give up. We need to guard our hearts.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7).
When we pray with thanksgiving, the peace of God will guard our hearts. Sometimes when we’re waiting for things to pan out, and we don’t understand what God is doing, if we’re not careful and our heart is unguarded, we will develop a bitter heart, an angry heart, a defeated heart and a heart that is hardened.
At times, we may get angry with God for not answering our prayers, as we continue to face the uphill battles and pressures of life. We begin to doubt whether God has even heard our prayers or not. We get impatient; our faith starts to wane because of our inability to understand God’s bigger picture. But God is saying, “If you will keep thankful, I will not only guard your heart and mind, but I will give you the peace of Christ, which will surpass your inability to understand.”
The Holy Spirit will not only answer our prayer for our life; He will go a step further …
2. He Will Answer the Father’s Prayer for Our Lives
Our Father has a prayer for our life. He also has a will for us. He knows what is best for us.
“… the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words … because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” (Rom. 8:26-27).
From the very first day we pray, God begins to answer. Cooperate with Him because God is doing something greater than what we pray for — more than our expectations. But if we’re constantly bailing out, God has to rewind the tape and work on us many times over. In the midst of prayer, we may begin to see within our own heart things we need to correct. Prayer helps us to see who we are. Prayer helps to pull us closer to the Lord. God can see a lot further than we could ever hope to see … trust Him!