“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”
Matthew 7:7-8 – NASB
I’ve become a little hard pressed to believe that God will ever answer my prayers the way I would hope.
I’m not saying I don’t pray or that I’ve lost my belief in God. I do pray, and I do believe in God, but what I’m saying is that God has put so many stipulations on prayer that I’m not sure that God will answer my requests the way I hope because when I pray, I don’t meet the stipulations that He set for when we pray.
Here are some of the stipulations that I’m talking about…
- Pray and Agree with any two or more people (Matthew 18:19)
- Pray without ceasing (I Thes. 5:17)
- Ask in the Name of Jesus (John 14:13)
- Ask in faith and don’t doubt (James 1:6)
- Believe you already have what you ask for before you even ask (Mark 11:24)
- Ask in the Father’s will (I John 5:14-15)
- Believe that God exists and that He rewards those who seek Him (Hebrews 11:6)
- Be devoted to prayer with an attitude of thankfulness (Col. 4:2)
- Pray as Jesus taught His disciples (Matt 6:9-13)
- Always give thanks to the Father through Jesus (Col. 3:17)
- Don’t be like the hypocrites who pray out in the open (Matt 6:5)
- Go into your inner room, close your door, pray in secret to the Father who is in secret (Matt 6:6)
I didn’t list those in any particular order, just listed off at random as they came to mind, but they are stipulations God has placed on how we make requests to Him and whether or not those requests will be answered.
Please don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying that God will never answer prayers…Far from it. He does answer prayers, but what I am saying is that I don’t know if He’ll ever answer mine because I’ve failed to meet the stipulations He’s set for my prayers to be answered.
More importantly, I doubt that God will answer me because of a sincere lack of faith and thankfulness based on past experiences and past requests that never got answered over the years.
(Yeah… yeah… yeah…’don’t live in the past’…blah, blah, blah… Preaching to the choir, people!)
But seriously, I always thought and believed that my past prayers were made in faith, in the name of Jesus, with others who were like-minded, with an attitude of thanksgiving in my heart and a hope that God would answer in the affirmative; consequently, God saw fit to have me sit back and watch while He gave what I requested for myself to other people. Therefore, my prayers didn’t get answered as I had hoped.
Am I admitting my selfishness and pride here? I suppose I am. Which leads to one more reason that God didn’t answer my prayers the way I had hoped. After all, God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. (James 4:6).
Was I deserving of those things I requested? — Maybe. Maybe not. — I won’t know the answer until I come face to face with God, and even then He probably won’t tell me because at that point…it won’t matter.
However, that hasn’t stopped me from developing excuses and rationalizations as to ‘why’ God won’t or hasn’t answered my prayers the way I had hoped.
Excuses such as: “Maybe I wasn’t ready to receive the gift…”, “Maybe it was because of sin…”, “Maybe I didn’t deserve something that wonderful…”, “Maybe I’m not worthy…”, “Maybe God’s got something better…” , “Maybe my motives are incorrect…”, “Maybe there isn’t anything better…” or “Maybe all of the above…??”
All of these excuses have set in motion a downward spiral of introspection which has ultimately led to self-judging, self-loathing and self-condemnation. All of which have slowly encased my heart in a shell of petrified callousness and led me to a sincere distrust of whether or not the almighty will ever answer my prayers in the manner of which I hope.
Truth be told… I have a broken heart.
Ironically, even though my prayers haven’t been answered the way I hoped, I still pray and make requests to God all the time.
I’m constantly pouring out my feelings and desires to Him while requesting things with a sincere belief in the power of Jesus Christ that God will answer me; however, when I pray, the doubt remains that God will never grant my request in the manner in which I hope.
Therefore, thankfulness is a distant memory, and any faith that might have assisted in my prayers being answered is lacking a solid foundation.
Please know that I do believe that God exists . . . I do . . . but quite frankly I’m not confident He really does reward all those who seek Him.
I know I’m not alone. There are many in this world who have the same doubts about their prayers ever being answered or whether God will ever bless them again.
Heck, even the prophets in the old testament were given over to wonder if God was hearing them or if they would ever be answered. Some even felt deceived by God.
Look at the words of Job (13:24-28):
“Why do You hide Your face and consider me Your enemy? Will You cause a driven leaf to tremble? Or will You pursue the dry chaff?
“For You write bitter things against me and make me to inherit the iniquities of my youth. You put my feet in the stocks and watch all my paths; You set a limit for the soles of my feet, while I am decaying like a rotten thing, like a garment that is moth-eaten.”
And then Jeremiah, a prophet of God’s very own choosing, writes:
“Why has my pain been perpetual and my wound incurable, refusing to be healed? Will You indeed be to me like a deceptive stream with water that is unreliable?” (Jeremiah 15:18)
“O Lord, You have deceived me and I was deceived; You have overcome me and prevailed. I have become a laughingstock all day long; Everyone mocks me. For each time I speak, I cry aloud; I proclaim violence and destruction, because for me the word of the Lord has resulted In reproach and derision all day long.” (Jeremiah 20:7-8)
Both prophets went through a period of time where they struggled to believe that God was listening to their requests or that He would answer their requests the way they hoped.
Jeremiah and Job were dedicated servants of God and they humbly performed every task that God asked of them, yet there was a time in their lives they both struggled with doubt and thought that God had pulled the proverbial rug out from under their feet.
Interestingly, both of these men provide a great example of how doubting God can lead to anguish and self-depreciation. The struggles both men had with doubt cause each of them to curse the day he was born (read Job 3 & Jeremiah 20:14-18).
My point here is that every human being, even those who were specifically appointed by the LORD Jesus and God the Father, can and will doubt that God will answer their prayers they way they were hoping.
As for my situation, I began having doubts that my prayers to the Almighty God of Heaven and Earth have never gone further than the ceiling of my home after decades of the same failures. And…If by some strange miracle the words I directed towards God did reach Heaven’s doorstep, I fear those words never made it past His threshold!
From a very young age I’ve attempted to live a life that follows the narrow path. I found the words of God, and I ate them; and they became for me a joy and delight of my heart. I believed that I was called by God’s holy name and His eternal word into an eternal hope of salvation through the LORD Jesus Christ. Therefore, I did not sit in the circle of merrymakers, nor did I show or feel elation or jubilation as the result of any success I may have experienced.
I’ve tried to rejoice with others in their successes. I’ve tried to mourn and encourage those in their failures and losses. And yet…because of God’s hand upon me, I sit alone. Filled with the contempt, anger and annoyance provoked by what I perceive as unfair treatment from others in this world.
I’ve asked God why my perpetual pain never ends. Why the internal wound is incurable, refusing to be healed.
I wonder and ask God if He has deceived me by providing hope to promises that would never come to pass, but He remains silent on the matter.
Yet…once again…like a trained animal who knows and fears his master, I bow my head…I bend my knee…I lay myself prostrate before the throne of the Almighty God of Heaven and Earth, and I open my mouth once more to make a simple request of God with hope that He might hear me and answer me with blessings of good things.
I wait longingly and patiently for His reply. Hoping that the answer will finally melt my hardened, callous heart and sorrow would be replaced with joy and gladness.
I don’t know if any of you can understand just how agonizing the thirst for God to answer my prayer really is.
In all honesty I long for God to dip His finger in water and just touch the tip of my tongue to quench the thirst my desires bring. To give me a sign that He hears me. That He accepts me and that my requests are a fragrant aroma, not filled with putrefaction which cause Him to turn His face away and reject me.
To let me know that He delights in me, and my heartfelt requests aren’t falling on deaf ears.
But I’m reminded of the words of Job…
“But the falling mountain crumbles away, and the rock moves from its place.
Water wears away stones, its torrents wash away the dust of the earth; so You destroy man’s hope.
You forever overpower him and he departs.
You change his appearance and send him away.
His sons achieve honor, but he does not know it; or they become insignificant, but he does not perceive it.
But his body pains him, and he mourns only for himself.” (Job 14:18-22)
That quote is one of the best explanations of how man’s hope can erode over time by the many tribulations that engulf us. Tribulations that can change our focus and cause our thoughts, our attentions and our prayers to become more self-centered and less altruistic.
In those difficult moments we take our sights off the finish line and the rewards to come. We lose sight of the truth. We stop running the race. We forget who God is.
We forget His mercies never fail.
We forget He’s never stopped loving us.
We forget that God’s best is not the same as what we perceive as the best for ourselves.
We forget that He’s never walked away from us.
We forget how to be thankful in all things.
We forget how to be content.
It’s pathetic that after all that I still don’t know if God will ever delight in me enough to answer my prayers the way I hope He will.
I guess I’ll pray about it.