God's Response To Prayer Requests
By Michael Lane, Executive Director, Delve Christian Ministries
- A Sense of Peace: In my own experience, this is by far the most common response that God will provide, particularly when we have asked Him to help us with a difficult decision. Before prayer, we may have no idea how to proceed. After spending time in prayer, the right decision is accompanied by a sense of peace and "right"-ness. Often, that sense of peace comes from the guiding of the Holy Spirit, letting us know the right path to choose.
- Signs: A few years ago, I had to make a difficult choice about meeting someone and I was not sure it was the right thing to do. I prayed for God to show me the answer. At virtually the same time, I got a call from the person I was supposed to meet offering me a chance to back out, while I also got an email from another person urging me not to go. The coincidence was too much to have not been from God. I canceled the meeting.
- Miracles: Though this response from God is relatively rare, it does happen that God will respond in a supernatural and amazing way. I have seen this most recently in the miraculous recovery of a friend from a horrific accident. He was not expected to survive, and there can be little doubt that his recovery was a response to the constant and pleading prayer of his friends and family. We should not be shy about asking God for miracles if what we are seeking seems like it would be consistent with His will.
- Delayed Response: Occasionally, God will answer our prayer long after we made the request. We see this in the book of Daniel, where the angel comes to Daniel's aide long after his prayer, explaining that he was delayed by a spiritual battle. The spiritual realm is complex and beyond our understanding, and we must be patient. Although He is all-powerful, sometimes God will put plans into motion that take time.
- Encouragement from His Word: Whenever possible, we should conclude our prayer by spending some time reading the Bible. God will often to use the scriptures to lead us to an answer or to help us find a sense of peace about a problem.
- Encouragement from a friend: Another way God commonly responds is to send someone across our path who can help, either by their actions or by providing advice or wisdom. You should never assume that if someone helps you with a problem that the true source of the help is not in fact from God.
- Unexpected solution: Our understanding is limited and often we ask for solutions that are not ideal. God knows the best way to solve every problem, so we should not be surprised when God gives us something different and even better than we had hoped for. If money is tight, we may ask God to help us win some money, but He may help us get a promotion at work instead, for He knows that is a far better long-term solution.
- Direct Answer: Though perhaps most rare of all, it does happen for a few people that in response to prayer, they hear God speak to them directly in order to provide the answer. This was more common in the Bible, but a few people I know have, on occasion, heard directly from God when they needed Him most.
- No Response: Finally, there are times when it seems that God has not responded. It may be that God has responded in a way we cannot recognize, or it may be that what we have asked for is simply not in His will for us at this time. We can be certain that God loves us and wants the best for us, so if it seems that His answer is "no", there is a higher reason that we may not be able to appreciate today. In time it may become clear why God denied our request, or we may not know until we meet Him in heaven. Either way, we can be certain He has our best intentions in mind.
Final Note on Prayer
Though this article has focused on asking God for things we need, that is only a very small aspect of prayer. Let us not forget that prayer should be so much more. It should be a time of reflection, praise, worship, repentance, and thanksgiving. We should be wary of only praying whenever we need something. Our relationship with God is very much like a relationship with a friend or spouse. If the only time we talk to them is when we need something, it will be a very strained relationship!