Cindi McMenamin: Do You Ever Feel That God Is Ignoring You?
Do you ever feel that God is ignoring you?
I often receive letters and emails from women asking me why God isn't listening to them or why He refuses to answer their prayers.
I, too, have wondered about that question at times. Certainly it's discouraging to pour out our hearts and feel that we are getting no response. But, I have had to keep myself in check, lately, when it comes to prayer and what I'm praying for. Primarily because, in Scripture, God set some parameters around prayer that we tend to forget about. And I think if we ask ourselves three questions, we can determine if we are within those parameters and if we can realistically expect an answer to our prayers.
1. Am I in a relationship with God? We tend to think that prayer is a privilege given to anyone who wants to utter the words. Sure, any of us can pray. But does that necessarily mean we will have God's ear? Scripture is pretty specific about stating that those who are "in Christ" have the privilege of communing with God in prayer and asking Him for something.
In the Old Testament, God sought out certain individuals (and eventually the nation of Israel) to be in covenant relationship with Him. It was these people He wanted to call upon Him for help. And in many cases God drew back His anger, or changed His mind about a situation based on a person's prayers.
In the New Testament, Jesus taught His followers how to pray, starting with addressing God as their "father" in Heaven. Under both the Old and New Covenants, prayer was something that existed within a relationship between God and an individual.
There are many people today who think that because they simply asked God for something, He is obligated to answer their prayer favorably. But, we must be in right relationship with God in order to request anything of Him. And to be in right relationship with God, we must be trusting in His Son, Jesus, and what He accomplished for us on the cross through His death and resurrection. If you are trusting in Christ Jesus' righteousness, and not your own, Scripture says you can "come boldly before the throne of grace" (Hebrews 4:16) and "in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God" (Philippians 4:6).
2. Am I asking according to God's will? God is not obligated to answer our prayers. He will answer only when our requests are in line with His perfect will.
Scripture says "if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us" (I John 5:14). Scripture also tells us "When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures" (James 4:3). (That's not only the verse for those who pray that God will help them win the lottery, but it is a verse that reminds us we need to pray according to what God wants, not just what we want.) Scripture also says we must ask in Jesus' name. That means to ask God for something that Jesus would ask for. Jesus sought His Father's glory in all things. To pray according to God's will means to pray that, in everything, God will be glorified.
3. Am I asking in faith? Jesus told His followers "If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer" (Matthew 21:22). This assumed that they were asking in accordance with God's will. So the question is not just "Do I have faith that God will answer this prayer?" but "Do I really believe that He knows what's best?" I'll be honest...that's the rub. Sometimes our definition of what is good is different than God's definition. God sees what is best for us - and others - in the eternal scope, while we can only see the here and now. In some cases, God might receive more glory by choosing to wait a little longer to answer your prayer or by answering with a "no."