(A message preached to myself)
I have heard some say (trying to be cute) “GOD answers every prayer. Sometimes it's yes, sometimes it's no and sometimes its wait.”
I have not been satisfied with that explanation for I think it is a self-serving copout. To me I take prayer seriously and am flatly disappointed when I don't receive the answer I'm looking for.
Prayer is a privilege with honor. A privilege extended to me by The Almighty that I must honor by not trying to abuse the privilege or be presumptive.
When you enter into prayer you enter the realm where warfare is waged.
It is important to know there is a difference between effectual fervent praying and just saying words and adding the tag line of "In Jesus' name."
I fear much of what people conclude is answered prayer is just happenstance and the way things played out. We as a people have bought into the idea that wishing is the same as believing.
Part of this reasoning is a product of scriptures that speak positively about answered prayer and the way we perceive them such as; John 16:23 Truly, truly, I say to you, Whatever you shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.
Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Matthew 7:7-8 Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. "For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.
These scriptures and others like them present a truth that is seemingly simplistic but behind the speaker in every case is a story untold within the verse. There is the doubt and unbelief struggle faced against prevailing faith.
Being conditioned by times of distress can be a formidable foe against answered prayer. We may say the words while all the time doubting our prayers will be answered. Being defeated in prayer takes some time to get over so it behooves us to choose our prayer battles carefully.
Again I refer back to just saying empty words and calling it prayer. The difference in talking and truly praying is this.
To really pray one must have the Jesus kind of relationship with the Father. A relationship where you can say most assuredly I know you always hear me and the fact of being heard is synonymous with the prayer being answered.
Let's look for a minute at Romans 8:4-6 So that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.
In these scriptures we see two mind sets. One allows us to live as the world lives without considering GOD'S rules for living at all. The other accepts GOD'S control over our lives. The one lives according to Satan's temptations, the other lives by the indwelling Spirit of GOD.
When we come to the need of prayer the mind set comes into play and what some Christians find is they are trying to straddle the fence between the two mind sets of faith and doubt. This becomes an admixture of walking after the flesh and being led by the Spirit.
The Apostles all warn against being double mindedness especially James the brother of Jesus. James 1:5-8 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
While are at it we might as well look at;
James 1: 14-16 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death (unanswered prayer).
Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. When anyone presumes to do business with GOD they should have their ducks in a row so to speak otherwise they will be confused as to why GOD doesn't perform according to their interpretation of the scriptures.
For many the only prayer they should even consider praying is a prayer for forgiveness after repentance because of the way they are living.