"I have prayed and prayed and prayed for an answer to my problem but God just doesn't answer. I don't know what to do. How can I know God's will? Why doesn't He answer my prayers?" Many of you readers have written in asking these very important questions. This article gives the answers!
FIRST, let's establish some basic prerequisites to answered prayer. Here is one: "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him" (Heb. 11:6). First of all you must "believe that he is" — that God does exist — that He is real! To have living faith, to really believe, you must prove that there is a living God in heaven! God Himself exhorts us to do this! "... Prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it" (Mal. 3:10). If you want God's blessings poured out upon you, then you need to prove, not assume, that He actually does exist! (If you haven't done so, read our FREE booklet Does God Exist?) Next, it is absolutely essential that you take the time to study the Bible and prove that it is the inspired, infallible, written Word of that Almighty Living God. The Bible itself claims that "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (II Tim. 3:16). (Read our FREE literature The Proof Of The Bible and "Twelve Rules for Bible Study.") After you have proved that the Bible is inspired of God, then you are on your way to understanding God's will and how He answers prayer. Notice these important scriptures: "Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you" (I Thes. 5:17-18). It is God's will that we pray and give thanks every day. As you study the Bible, many scriptures reveal God's will for you in specific ways. God has not left us ignorant concerning His will: "Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is" (Eph. 5:17). God's will for you is revealed in His Word! All you have to do is study — and be willing to OBEY God's will (His Word) as you learn and understand it! If you will obey (act upon) what you do understand in God's Word, then He promises to answer your prayers (and God won't lie — Titus 1:2):"The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry. The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles" (Psalm 34:15, 17). The righteous are described as those who keep the Commandments of God (Psalm 119:172; I John 5:3 ). God will not hear your prayers if you are sinning (breaking His Commandments — I John 3:4). "Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth" (John 9:31). God will hear and answer your prayers if you are sincerely seeking to obey and please Him. But, if you are living in sin, know better and won't change, God says to you: "Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear" (Isa. 59:1-2). So, an important key to answered prayer is summarized in I John 3:22: "And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight." You must be obeying God and seeking to please Him! The book of I John reveals one other important aspect to answered prayer: "And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us" (I John 5:14). You must pray and ask "according to his will," not yours. If you are praying selfishly, God will not answer. He says in James 4:3, "Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts." Be yielded and pray that God's will be done in your life. Let Him answer your prayers His way! You are probably still asking, "But what is His way? How does God answer my prayers?" By now I hope you can see that one way God answers prayer is through His Word! The Bible is literally filled with God's answers to our problems — most people just don't know where to look for the answers or they don't understand what they do read. This brings us to another important point. God works through His true servants today in teaching and explaining His Word! Notice a Biblical example in Acts 8:26-31. Philip asked the man, who was reading from the writings of the Prophet Isaiah, "DO you understand what you are reading?" The Ethiopian eunuch, an educated man of great authority (verse 27) said, "How can I, except some man should guide me?" As a result of Philip's instruction and guidance, this man believed and was baptized! What you may need is a true servant of God to guide and show you what God's Word says about your particular problems. We have such dedicated, consecrated, ordained men in all parts of the United States and many parts of the world. Of course, these men will not call upon you unless you first request it. But if you want to learn how to solve your spiritual problems, there is such a man near you. Although God doesn't give specific answers to all problems, He does lay down principles or guidelines for the solution of all problems! Certainly, God is able to answer your prayers directly by working out circumstances or intervening for you. But, if He hasn't been doing so, you may need to seek out a true minister of God and ask him what God says about your problem. Sometimes, this is how God answers prayer.