God answers impossibly big prayers. Throughout the New Testament both Jesus and the apostles invite those who follow Jesus to pray and ask for impossibly big things with the assurance that God is inclined to answer.
So why do we so often see prayers go unanswered? Can we do anything about it? These promises about prayer are given to us in abundance, so what keeps us from seeing them fulfilled? Let me quickly offer 6 possibilities.
God wants to show us His power in our weakness: 2 Corinthians 12:7-9
God sometimes denies our prayer request for no fault of our own. In His sovereign will, He wishes to display His power to the world through our weakness and suffering. So God may choose to display His glory not through answering prayer but through sustaining you in your weakness.
We simply don’t ask: James 4:2
“You do not have because you do not ask.” This might sound so obvious that it doesn’t need to be said, but prayerlessness is one of the great causes of a lack of answered prayer. We don’t see answers because we don’t ask God to answer any requests.
Selfishness: James 4:3
“You ask and don’t receive because you ask wrongly, so that you may spend it on your desires for pleasure.” When our prayers are self-seeking or for mere comfort, God is not disposed to answer them every time. There are often too many I, me, my, and mine’s in our prayers. His goal is to display His glory not our temporary safety and security.
Unforgiveness: Mark 11:25
“And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven will also forgive you your wrongdoing.” The implication here is that unforgiveness in the heart disrupts the relationship with God that leads to answered prayer.
Husbands aren’t honoring and loving their wives: 1 Peter 3:7
“Husbands, in the same way, live with your wives with understanding of their weaker nature yet showing them honor as co-heirs of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.”
We don’t endure in prayer: Luke 18:1-8
“He told them a parable on the need for them to pray always and not become discouraged.” We often don’t see answers to prayer because we demonstrate that our hearts do not really desire them by our lack of perseverance in prayer
But these reasons for negative answers to prayer are not in Scripture in order to temper our expectations when we pray. Quite the opposite, the impossibly big answers to prayer that Jesus promises to us should motivate us to get these areas right in our lives!
Because God answers impossibly big prayers, pray! Stop being a prayerless person, stop pushing it off day after day, stop letting other things come in and crowd your prayer time! Pray!
Because God answers impossibly big prayers, we need to pursue humility and selflessness. Where are you selfish with your time, your money, your attitudes? Be selfless! Consider others more important than yourself!
Because God answers impossibly big prayers, we need to forgive one another! Who is it in your life that you are holding anger against? Is it your dad? Your mom? Perhaps a spouse or an ex-spouse? A boss? A former friend? Someone else who has wronged you? Forgive!
Because God answers impossibly big prayers, we need to get right in our marriages. Are you loving your wives with the utmost sacrificial love? Wives, do you respect and honor and submit to your husband? Husbands, are you putting her interests above your own in every respect? If not, your prayers are hindered. So let’s get right in our marriages!
Because God answers impossibly big prayers, let us endure in praying! Let us lay our requests before the Lord for days, weeks, months, years, decades, even giving our whole lives over to it if we must, but let us persist in these prayers.
Brothers and sisters, the sovereign God of the universe who loves you above all else in all of creation, has an ear open to you to both take and grant the impossibly big request you make before Him, that He might display His glory throughout the cosmos.