Are Your Prayers Answered?
HAVE there been times when you prayed to God and your prayers were not answered? Many have had this experience. Does it mean that prayers are of no value?
No, God can both hear prayers and act upon them. In fact, an ancient servant of God had such confidence regarding this that he wrote: “Jehovah will indeed hear my request for favor; Jehovah himself will accept my own prayer.”—Ps. 6:9.
Why did this servant of God and others like him have such confidence in prayer? And, yet, why are many prayers not answered?
MEETING GOD’S REQUIREMENTS
The reason is that God has requirements that the ones who would successfully approach him must meet. One of them has to do with faith. The Bible says: “He that approaches God must believe that he is and that he becomes the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him.” (Heb. 11:6) Do you have firm confidence that God really exists, and that he is able to answer prayers? This is needed.
Other requirements were pointed to by the Christian disciple James when he wrote: “Draw close to God, and he will draw close to you. Cleanse your hands . . . Humble yourselves in the eyes of Jehovah.” (Jas. 4:8-10) Clearly, then, to enjoy a hearing by God one cannot willfully transgress God’s laws. Rather, one must sincerely desire to do what is right, humbly longing to do God’s will, and not just one’s own will. Do you do so?
If you do, God will hear your prayers. For the Christian apostle John wrote: “No matter what it is that we ask according to his will, he hears us.”—1 John 5:14.
But what is God’s will? It has to do with what will benefit mankind most. The Bible says that God’s “will is that all sorts of men should be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of truth.” (1 Tim. 2:4) Have you ever prayed to come to “an accurate knowledge of truth,” that is, the truth about God and his purpose for mankind? Such sincere prayers are heard by God.
PRAYERS GOD HAS HEARD
There is the example of the Italian army officer named Cornelius. The Bible says that he was “a devout man and one fearing God,” and that he “made supplication to God continually.” Jehovah God heard his prayers, and saw to it that the Christian apostle Peter was directed to Cornelius to teach him so that he might come to an accurate knowledge of the truth.—Acts 10:1-5, 22-43.
Sincere seekers of truth today have similarly had their prayers answered. For example, a heart specialist in South Africa one day was moved to tell his wife: “There is only one thing I regret in this life—that we have brought into this world six atheistic children.” This prompted his wife to pray to God: “Father, help us to find you.”
Two days later Jehovah’s witnesses called at the couple’s door. The doctor’s wife quickly gathered the children, and all enjoyed the Bible discussion. Subsequent calls led to a regular study of the Bible. Today the woman is a baptized witness of Jehovah, and her husband and children are continuing to progress in their study of God’s Word.
At times trials and tribulations of life cause persons to become very despondent. They may even feel so bad that they contemplate suicide. Can such ones pray to God and be heard? Surely they can! But for what should they ask? For “an accurate knowledge of truth” about God and his purposes. This, better than anything else, can help them to cope with their problems. A woman from New Caledonia relates how her appeal for help was answered:
“While in a distressed suicidal state, I appealed by letter to the one person I felt could help me—my priest. But he did not respond. However, a week later one of Jehovah’s witnesses called. I accepted a Bible study aid, and as soon as the woman left I eagerly devoured its contents. Within a matter of days I began to feel mental relief and a growing sense of liberation.” Today this woman and her husband both are Jehovah’s witnesses.
But how can one be sure what is the truth? A Roman Catholic woman from Mozambique was called upon by one of Jehovah’s witnesses. The woman liked what she heard. But there are many religions, and she wondered whether this really was the right one. So she prayed to God, “If this is the truth, let this lady come back.” The Witness lady returned, and a Bible study was started. The woman wept for joy when she realized that she really had found the truth.
PRAYERS ON BEHALF OF OTHERS
Of course, not all honest-hearted ones pray specifically that they may learn the way that leads to divine approval. In their case the intercessory prayers of dedicated servants of God can have “much force.” (Jas. 5:16) Appreciating that it is God’s purpose that all sorts of men might be saved, his servants continue to pray for all who may be righteously disposed.—1 Tim. 2:1-6.
There is the example of a Witness in Portugal who observed his neighbor cultivating his small plot of land. He took advantage of the opportunity, asking him how he would like to see the whole earth changed into a beautiful garden someday. The neighbor thought that this would be impossible. But the Witness assured him that God had made such a promise, and that it would therefore come true.
Unconvinced, the neighbor replied that he really knew nothing about God, much less anything about a promised paradise for this earth. “Why, I don’t even know how to pray to God,” he added. In a straightforward manner, the Witness said: “Manuel, so you have never prayed to God. Well, come over here and take off your hat. I’ll show you.” The Witness then thanked Jehovah for the promise of a righteous new order. He also prayed that Jehovah might open the heart and mind of his neighbor Manuel to learn about the kingdom of God. What were the results?
Jehovah God did open Manuel’s heart. A home Bible study was started with him. Within three months he and his wife began telling others about the good things they had learned. Six months after their first Bible study they were baptized.
Manifestly God does answer the prayers of right-hearted ones. He sees to it that they receive the needed help to come into a dedicated relationship with him. Once they enjoy a standing before him, he continues to answer their prayers. Jesus Christ told his followers, who would pray in harmony with the divine will: “All the things you ask in prayer, having faith, you will receive.”—Matt. 21:22.