Why He Answers

Previously, I wrote about four foundational truths we affirm when we pray, and then I followed up that article with another in which we reflected on God’s ability to do far more than we ask or think

When we think of prayer and why God answers our prayers there are a few reasons God answers them (this is not exhaustive nor are they all equally present all the time). 

One reason is to reveal his attributes. When God answers our prayers, he is revealing an aspect of his attributes. When he answers a prayer that has to do with helping with a problem and the solution comes to mind, he is revealing his knowledge and wisdom (often referred to as his omniscience). When he provides for a tangible need through an unexpected avenue, this might reveal his sovereignty in guiding humanity. As you reflect on the times he has answered your prayers how have they revealed to you some aspect of his attributes? 

Another reason he answers our prayers is for him to get glory. When he shows up and answers our prayers in agreement with what we’ve asked, then he gets glory. It shows us and others that he is capable to answer our prayers. Answered prayer is a powerful testimony to who God is and they provide us a powerful opportunity to testify to others about him. We get to brag on God and essentially get to say “look at how great my God is!”. There are countless stories in the Old Testament and the book of Acts when God showed up that provided powerful testimonies to God’s power. When God answers prayer in our lives he is giving us an opportunity to tell others about what he has done. Can you think of times where you have prayed and God answered in a powerful way that you simply had to tell someone else about it? 

A third reason is that it reveals his character. When we pray for God to answer a need and he answers, it shows us that he cares for us. When Jesus taught the disciples to pray he said “our Father”, which is his character and disposition towards believers, his children. He already knows that we need these things and he will provide for them. Jesus also told us that God will give good gifts to his children, not harmful ones. So there are times where his “no” is actually revealing his good character to us. In a similar way when we pray for wisdom he willingly gives it according to the book of James. What good father does not want to help his children with the problems they face? How and when he answers prayers reveals his character to us. When in your life has his answers to your prayer revealed his character to you or others? 

A fourth aspect, and perhaps most critical of all, is that it builds our faith. The how and when of the answers to our prayers is to build our faith. When Jesus prayed at the tomb of Lazarus he said it was not for his benefit but for others to believe that the Father had sent him. When the Apostle Paul prayed for his thorn in the flesh to be removed, God told him no so that he might not become conceited, but instead remain dependent on God. God was using Paul’s thorn in the flesh to build his faith. Jesus was using his prayer for Lazarus to be raised to build the faith of those around him. How has his answers to your prayers built your faith?

As you consider praying for your English Language Ministry, how can these aspects of why God answers prayer better inform your prayers? Are you praying in such a way that these things would happen through your prayers? I hope as you consider them they will lead you to more prayer and impact your motivations to pray.

This is the third in a series of 4 articles on Prayer by pastor and author Jon Varner, who just released his new book Prayer Sparks: The Gospel of Mark. Read the rest of the series:

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