If God has the power to change a situation, then why doesn’t He? If he’s all-powerful and loving, then why won’t he answer our prayers?
One of our subscribers encouraged me to include this devotional as an answer to this Month’s Bible Question.
I Want a Horse Ranch: Oh Really?
“When my prayers returned to me unanswered, I went about mourning as though for my friend or brother.” (Ps 35:13-14 NIV)
My youngest son has always loved horses. After begging for riding lessons for four years, my wife and I finally caved. He was seven years old at the time. Now, five years later, he is developing into a good rider. When he jumps with his horse however, my heart still skips a beat. If only the fences weren’t so tall! Well, 24″ is tall to me!
He pays for half of his riding lesson each week by cleaning stalls, and every year he sets aside all of the money he earns raising birds so that he can pay for a partial lease throughout the summer on the horse he rides. It is his dream to one day own an Arabian horse ranch. In fact, you can’t spend more than a few minutes with him without him sharing his dream with you!
Let’s jump ahead about ten years . . . Uh . . . Is he really 12 already??? Okay, let’s jump ahead six years! He has just graduated from high school. He is very excited, for he has finally decided on a career as a surgeon, and he’s been accepted into the top school in Canada. But higher education hasn’t gotten any cheaper with the years, and his chosen program will cost thousands of dollars per year. He isn’t worried however, for he knows that his parents have been setting aside money for his education ever since he was born.
My response will shock him beyond belief: “I’m sorry, son, but the money we set aide has gone for another cause.”
“What? You spent all of my University money?”
“Well, remember about six years ago, when you wanted to own your own ranch and raise Arabian horses?”
“Uh . . . But that was just a kid’s dream, dad!”
“Well, I took you up on it. I invested all the money I had saved into a ranch in Montana, and have been using the money I would have saved ever since to populate it with a herd of 100 high quality Arabians. Some of them are even black, the rarest color of all! I’ve even hired a crew of top-notch stable hands.”
“You – you bought me a – ranch?”
“Here are your keys, and here’s the address. I don’t have any money left to pay for University. I hope you understand. Don’t forget me when I’m old and can’t take care of myself! Now go on! Your ranch awaits you!”
“But dad, I want to become a surgeon! I want to make a difference in life! I love horses and I still love to ride, but I don’t want to become a rancher! What have you done?”
“I tried to fulfill your dreams!”
“How could you have done this to me?”
“But it was your dream for so long!”
“Don’t you know that dreams can change?”
When I read the above story to my 12 year-old, he was quite adamant that I should do just that: Take the money we’ve set aside for higher education and buy him a horse ranch! But childhood dreams do change, and in another few years, he will be more than happy that I didn’t!
Friends, the above story is really an illustration of what could happen if all of our prayers were answered. The fact is, if every prayer we ever uttered were to be answered, we would actually be disappointed, not ecstatic!
I don’t always know why some of my prayers are answered the way I want them to be and some are not, especially when it is relating to people who are suffering and dying. I do know one thing, however: God always answers our prayers! It just isn’t always the way we would like them to be answered!
You see, we don’t always know exactly what to pray for: “. . . Because we do not know what to pray for as we should . . .”(Rom. 8:26b), and God always has our best interest at heart. He knows what’s best, even when we don’t! He answers not according to what we ask for specifically, but according to what will bring ultimate happiness in the long-run. Like David we can exclaim: “I call on the LORD in my distress, and He answers me.” (Ps 120:1 NIV)
We need to realize that we only see our true situation dimly: “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” (1 Cor 13:12 NIV). Sin has obstructed our clear understanding, and only when we meet Jesus face to face will we realize that He has always kept the promise He gave us in Rom 8:28: “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Remember, God always has our best interest in mind. He died so that we could live. He rose up so that we could rise up. He has eternity for us already planned. Remember: “God’s gift has restored our relationship with him and given us back our lives. And there’s more life to come – an eternity of life! You can count on this.” (Titus 3:7-8 The Message)
Eternity with God! Wow! When I contemplate this, the things of life really dim in comparison to His everlasting love! Our temporary life is but a blink of an eye compared to the eternity He has planned for us. The apostle Paul summarizes this idea in Phil. 1:21-24 “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.” NIV
Remember, when we pray, God always hears our prayers, and He always answers them, but not always in the way we want them to be answered. He has our long-term interest in mind, and just like I don’t rush out to grant every wish and desire of my boys, just like I look beyond the immediate, God answers our prayers in keeping with our long-term happiness. And just like my boys will one day realize that not giving them every desire of their childish hearts was for their long-term good, we will also see God’s loving hand in our seemingly unanswered prayers.
Oh, by the way, I have a ranch for sale in Montana. Anyone interested?
These are the timeless questions that humans have been asking for thousands of years. Remember the Old Testament book Job? God never directly answered Job’s questions. Instead he answered Job by explaining who he is. God is powerful. God is beyond our reason. God is above our reproaches. God is good.
In Romans 8:28, God sees good from his eternal perspective. All we can see is the immediate viewpoint and what is only before our eyes at that moment in time. Of course none of our trials that we endure from this limited viewpoint appears answered.
Have you found yourself wondering?
1. “God does not listen to me…” Sometimes God answers our prayers in “No” or “Wait.” Don’t allow yourself to think that God does not care for you, he is not concerned with your little worries, or that He is too busy. There are many, many promises in His Word that claims that God will never leave or forsake you. Cling to the fact that God loves you very much and that he is near, and that He does care very much what is happening to you at this very moment.
2. “God did not answer my prayer because I don’t have enough faith…” This statement is part of our human frailty. We always think the worse because God did not give us the answer we want. We live in such a frantic rushed world where everything must be done right Now! It is a test of patience to wait upon the Lord for His answer.
3. “If God loved me, he would make this problem go away…” Our problems are often tied to other people and situations that in turn have problems, choices and a freewill of their own. God does not override a Christian’s free will and force him or her to choose the right way. God often uses different people and situations to bring an answer out of our pain. Even though we cannot see the answer right away, perhaps years down the road of life we can see the answer to our prayers.
My father was dying of brain cancer. No matter how many prayers I said for his health to be restored, he still lingered in pain until his death. I was very upset with God that my prayers were not answered. My father died 16 years ago. At the time of his death I could not see the plans God had for our family until a few years ago. Before my father’s death, our family was scattered and communicated in only social situations. Today, all our family worships the Lord, and we all live within 5 miles of each other. I have seen my siblings marry and have children and raise their children in Christian homes. So, my thoughts of unanswered prayers were given back to us in blessings that we could not contain.
In Daniel 10:12-13 God has told Daniel that his prayer was answered from the first day he started to pray. Daniel thought God did not hear his prayers, but God told Daniel that there is a spiritual battle that goes on between God and Satan. Satan will do all he can to intervene and not let the children of God have their prayers answered. Daniel did not give up, he continued to pray and thanking God until his prayers were answered and that was three whole weeks later! So, don’t expect God’s answers to come too easily or too quickly. Your prayers may be challenged by evil forces, so pray fervently and pray earnestly. Then expect God to answer at the right time.
In Habakkuk 1:1-11, Habakkuk asked God “How long Lord…” Habakkuk continually asked God why he allowed disaster and evil to prevail around him. Even though Habakkuk constantly prayed to God, he thought God was not concerned with the welfare of the nation. He continually prayed for God’s intervention until the nation of Judah turned back to the Lord. Even though Habakkuk did not get the answer he wanted, his fervent prayer and waiting for the Lord’s response demonstrates the diligence in Habakkuk as a prayer warrior.
I trust that I have shed some light on God and His answers to prayer.
Sue Ramsey Associate
Director of Bible Questions
Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.” (Read through verse 11 for further clarity.) God does not see our earthly situations the same way our finite minds see them. He can and will change any situation according to His will, which is ultimately for our best, although we may not understand it. God does answer our prayers-just not always in the way we want or understand. Sometimes we come to understand later on why our prayer seemingly went unanswered. Some things will only be revealed to us in eternity.
First off, the Lord gave us free will to do in situations as we please. He gives us the the opportunity to make choices. We just don’t always choose correctly, or let Him lead us. He DOES answer our prayers. Not just always as we see fit. As He knows best how to answer our prayers. He knows the plans that He has for us, and He knows the best way to answer our prayers. It is HIS will, NOT ours!!!!! That is why we must release all we do to the Lord and pray that He leads us in the way we should go. No matter what we are trying to decide or do in our lives. We must do it according to the Lord’s will.
We are here to learn, and he wants to see what we will do, as the old saying goes, i didn’t say it would be easy, just worth it. It makes us who we are, the things we go through and he does answer prayer, sometimes we just need to learn from things that happen.
God forever changes situations and answers prayers.
I wish to humbly contribute that God even though all powerful has left man the option of choices. He is only there to guide us in our choices through his word. In the book of Deuteronomy 11:26-27, re-iterating the same in Deuteronomy 30:19, he told them see I, (referring to Himself) set before you life and death but I counsel you to choose life that you might live. Our lives are a sum total of all our choices for the choices we make today will determine our lives tomorrow.
God has the power to change anything, He is all powerful. He does not change a situation because He does not change. There is no shadow of turning in Him. James 1:17 He changes nothing He has begun and since God is in control, He has begun everything or allowed it to begin. Sometimes He may want to teach us a lesson through the particular situation. He may want to draw us closer to Him in these situations.
He answers all our prayers. Psalms 86:7 “In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou will answer.”
We don’t always recognize the answer when God responds to our needs, therefore we think He does not answer. But if we wait long enough we will be able to see that He has answered and it is the best answer He could give us. His answers are based on need not desire.
For me when it seems God isn’t answering is, above all my asking, God will do what is best for me (I ask Him to do that) instead of what I am wanting. Only He knows how things will turn out and what is best. Praise to God our Father…never doubt His love, it is greater than our wants.
The Lord sometimes doesn’t answer our prayers in the things that we ask; however He provides the Holy Spirit to get us through our difficulties till He provides what He has planned for us. Luke 11:13 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.”
God does answer all of our prayers, perhaps not as we would like, and sometimes even saying No to our request, God does answer all our prayers, we need to learn to complete our prayers by saying, “Thy will be done, and allow me the ability to understand and to accept thy will.”