Why doesn't God answer my prayer(s)?

Written by Ian on 25/01/10

God answered George Muller's prayers: 30,000 according to George's own very careful records. How many of us can boast the same?

I certainly don't have all the answers (in both contexts of the word), but consider the following observations from reading Roger Steer's biography of George Muller (described in my previous post: here):

1. George gave everything to the poor, basically following Jesus, and the words of Jesus in Mark 10:21.
• With that kind of faith, we think, no wonder his prayers were heard...!
• However I think George Muller didn't see it that way.
• He said that anyone who was concerned that they were not walking in righteousness, would themselves doubt that their prayers will be answered. In other words, the presence of sin in their lives would prevent them praying in the full expectation of receiving a positive answer (and not following Jesus is some kind of sin).
• Definitely, let me tell you, I have always struggled with a literal interpretation of that verse, feeling that anything apart from a literal interpretation is just trying to escape something difficult.

However I now know better - and I prayed that God will deliver me from that struggle, so it's not a struggle any more.
• I've left it in God's hands, he can handle this a lot better than I can!
• He will lead, and He will decide for us, and what he decides will be correct.

So having resolved that, I can work on (i.e. pray about) the remaining obstacles...

2. George kept on praying.
• He didn't give up easily.
• He persistently and stubbornly prayed until he received an answer, and then he prayed again (but this time a prayer of thanks).
• Some of his prayers lasted for more than 50 years, brought before God daily.
• How can we say our prayer wasn't answered if we just uttered it half heartedly one day in between 'more important' things, or as part of a shopping list of prayer?
• We need to concentrate when we pray, setting aside a certain time for it, and to pray consistently and sincerely.
• Setting aside time doesn't mean that's the only prayer we get that day - it's still good to pause and pray at other times too, but not at the exclusion of a regular time.

3. He also prayed in great detail.
• Having myself been a victim of not praying specifically enough in the past, I can honestly say that although God knows what's in our heart, and He knows what's best for us, it is up to us to pray in sufficient detail.
• As much as I would like to pray for 'everything in the world to be made right', it seems kind of lazy!
• Jesus himself prayed quite specifically on many occasions, and we can learn from that.

4. He prayed in God's will.
• He didn't pray for a new Mercedes Benz.
• Having read and thought through the Bible, he had a very good idea what Jesus would do in a particular situation, and when he prayed he basically prayed in that spirit.
• Trying to imitate the kind of prayer and action of Jesus.
• In the same way, his motive was to glorify God and not to glorify George Muller.
• It stands to reason that not just our heart state as we approach prayer, but also our basic motivation, will have an impact on the outcome.

5. George walked the narrow path.
• He tried to ensure his behaviour was in full accord with Jesus' righteousness. In other words he didn't pause from sinning for a moment to utter a quick prayer.
• As a human being of course he sinned, but he sought (and received) forgiveness for this sin, so that when he laid his petitions before God, he was clean of sin.
• There are numerous times in the Old and New Testament where God rejects the prayers and supplications of people who are immersed in sin - although He always hears the prayer 'forgive me and deliver me from my sin'.
• This links to item 1, but it goes further - like any behaviour, it becomes a habit after a while.
• With George, I think that being righteous and upright, became a habit, and this made him more and more Christ-like as he got older.

6. George didn't give up.
• Despite several times of great difficulty and setbacks.
• There were many times when his prayers were not answered, and seemed to fall on deaf ears.
• No matter how sincerely he prayed, how long, how anguished.
• On his knees, early in the morning or late at night, and no hint or sign of any answer.
• However he was a stubborn German, and didn't give up.
• Look at Daniel 10:12-13 - Daniel continued praying for 3 weeks, and the Bible explains exactly why, in that case, the prayer wasn't answered immediately. How many more such reasons might there be that we don't understand?

Looking back, George realised he was made stronger through those episodes (as Daniel probably was).
• It was precisely the times when George felt most alone and abandoned that allowed him to grow in faith.
• Do we want to grow in faith?
• Well then, however difficult it might seem, let's thank God for the hard and barren times we are facing/will face.

Looking back, we can see with the great perspective gained through 150 years of elapsed time: I think it was all worth it.
• If this was what made George Muller the man he was, then it was definitely worth it!
• So why not the same with us?

7.George kept a careful journal of prayers, and updated these daily with their answers.
• This is how he could tell us that more than 30,000 were answered.
• Some were small things, some were big, some spectacular and many could be nothing except miracles.

Imagine the feeling you would get flipping through a journal and seeing page after page of answered prayer?
• Would that help give you the faith to continue?
• Well
why not start today - record your prayers, also why, when and how you prayed them.
• Make sure you give thanks for answered prayers, and record them in the same book.
• In my own experience, God seldom answers prayers in the way I had imagined he would when I prayed them.

Keep a journal, or record of prayers and their answers: you will be amazed at just how many get resolved, and how you can see the nudges and careful hints of God's work in the answers.
• Now it's my turn to practice what I preach...

For more information, look what George Muller himself wrote, here.