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Prayer is one of the main reasons people walk away from God in disgust and frustration. What is prayer? How does it work? Why do we pray?

Why does God answer some prayers but not others?

Postby Revolution » Sun Nov 26, 2017 6:42 pm

Why does God listen to some prayers but ignores others? Is there some sort of criteria God is using to determine which prayers are answered and which are not? How does God decide when/if to intervene and when not to? For example, people who are wealthy and religious often ascribe their success to the power of prayer, often arguing that it was their faith and prayer that gave them success. On the other hand, there are millions of Christians in Africa whose prayers for food, shelter, and even rain frequently seem to go unanswered. Is God answering prayers for creature comforts and material possessions while ignoring prayers for the basic necessities of survival? Or is there more to this than I'm getting?

Thanks in advance.

Re: Why does God answer some prayers but not others?

Postby jimwalton » Sun Nov 26, 2017 6:59 pm

First of all, if God answered the prayers of religious people at a noticeably higher rate than of non-religious people, we would all become suddenly religious so we could get what we wanted. It would be horrible. But if God answered the prayers of religious people at a worse rate than what would happen by itself in the course of normal life, we would interpret that God treated His own people worse than unbelievers. We would think God was a jerk. It would be horrible. It's certainly not a scientific pursuit and can't be. We can't do lab experiments.

Also, if we knew that because we were religious, or believers, or Jewish, Christian, or Muslim God was somehow obligated to answer our prayers, we would get some warped sense of entitlement, or power, and we would think God was around just to do our bidding. It would be all the wrong requests, all the wrong reasons, and all the wrong conclusions.

Instead, as Job and Habakkuk teach us, we have to trust the wisdom of God. The world doesn't work according the retribution principle (good people get more blessings, more answers to prayer, more responsiveness from God; wicked people get less and fewer).

What is the criteria? There are certainly no lists. The Bible says God acts according to his will and his wisdom. We have to do everything possible to know God, to conform to His will, to think as He thinks as much as possible, and to value what He values. We have to learn to see the world as He sees it. We have to learn to see His hand at work in the world and to recognize how He works and what He does. In the Law and Prophets, we can see that people who seek God find Him, and through revelation and the voice of the prophets were able to perceive God at work and interpret our circumstances properly. There's no easy path to this knowledge or perception. There's no list to follow. There's no "well, if I pray this way God will answer me." God is sovereign, not us, and can only see spiritual realities dimly. We bring everything to God in prayer, and we trust Him to act in His sovereignty and wisdom. As with Habakkuk, we don't lose faith because God seems to ignore our prayers or because our circumstances don't make sense. Our faith is grounded in the person of God, not on His catering to our prayers.
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Re: Why does God answer some prayers but not others?

Postby Revolution » Thu Dec 14, 2017 10:48 am

Wow, this is why I love posting here. The answers are always top-notch. Thank you for this one.

Last bumped by Anonymous on Thu Dec 14, 2017 10:48 am.

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