Question: Why does God delay in answering some prayers? The Bible says the Holy Spirit must lead us, and we ought to ask God before we respond to many issues, but sometimes God takes a long time to answer?
The question being asked is, when we seek God through prayer, why do we sometimes not hear or seem like the answer is delayed? There are excellent reasons why God may not answer our prayers immediately but in His perfect timing. In our human thinking, we may think our prayer is being delayed when it is not responded to immediately, but we need to understand that God is always on time. God sees the end from the beginning, and He knows all things. We need to trust Him if we’re calling on Him to seek an answer. You need to place your confidence in God because He knows what you need. The critical thing to remember is that God always answers prayer. The answer may not be yes all the time or how you have expected him to answer.
Sometimes we always expect a “yes” answer from God. But remember that when God says “no”, it is ultimately for our benefit. Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:8-9 pleaded with God to remove the thorn in his side, but the answer was “no”. The passage says, “Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ,”.
In contrast, when we go against God’s divine will, then it can have detrimental impacts. King Hezekiah was an example of this. The prophet Isaiah gave Hezekiah a word that he would die from his sickness, but Hezekiah pleaded with the Lord to extend his life. God eventually granted this request, but by doing so, in the extended period of his life, Hezekiah caused terrible consequences for the people and his children (2 Kings 20). This is what happens when you go against the perfect plan that God has.
Let us looks at some reasons for delayed answers to prayers and how to make decisions according to the will of God in your everyday life.
Firstly, why are some answers to prayers delayed from God?
There may be a few reasons why there is a delayed answer to prayer. One of these reasons could be that God uses the waiting to strengthen our faith, reliance, and trust in Him. It could be for us to grow spiritually and come in humbleness before Him. God knows exactly how and when is the perfect time to provide an answer to our request. We see many examples in the Bible where people cried out to God, but there was silence for a moment. Job was a great example when he cried out to God amid his distress (Job 23:8-9). There are other similar examples in the Psalms (Psalm 10:1; 13:1; 44:24). Psalm 10:1 says, “Why, O LORD, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?”
Whenever God responds to our prayers, it may not always be a yes. Nonetheless, it will always be for his glory and our good. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
Secondly, the Bible defines specific reasons for unanswered prayers.
There are specific reasons why God may not listen to our prayers. If we choose to hold on to sin and not repent, God will not listen to our prayers. Isaiah 1:15 says, “When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood.”
When we come before the Lord, we ought to examine ourselves and ensure that we are in right standing with God. If we are to pray rightly, we need to examine our hearts to ensure the right motivation, mindset, understanding, and relationship with God. The following passages help us examine ourselves and clearly defines why some prayers are not answered.
- Selfish motives (James 4:3 “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.”)
- If you are remaining in sin (Isaiah 59:2 “but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.”)
- If you do not listen to God’s law (Proverbs 28:9 “If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.”)
- If you have no faith (James 1:6-7 “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”)
- If you have unresolved marital problems (1 Peter 3:7 “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”)
- If your prayer is not according to God’s will (1 John 5:14 “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.”)
Thirdly, how can we make everyday decisions according to the will of God?
God has provided us with all that we need to make decisions that please God as given to us in the Bible. 2 Peter 1:3 says, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,” In some situations, we need to wait for God to speak to us – especially when making significant decisions. In these circumstances, you must wait on the Lord to speak and provide a clear way forward. At other times, you need to have the ability to make everyday decisions with freedom. They require to be made based on the will of God. But the question is, how do we go about doing this?
Often times you may need to make a decision for which the Bible does not provide a clear answer. For example, who you should marry, which job you should take, or any day to day decision. In these matters, there are sometimes no clear commands in the word of God, and this is where you may pray and seek an answer from God. In such situations, you can use biblical principles to make a decision and seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit to help make that decision. Use the wisdom God has given you, and base your decision on the following principles and God-given goals for your life. Ask yourself these following questions:
- will your decision glorify God (1 Cor 10:31),
- will your decision build one another up in Christ, and are you using your gifts to serve one another (Rom 14:19, 1 Pet 4:10-11),
- will your decision help in evangelism (Matt 28:19-20),
- will your decision lead you to do good works (Titus 3:8), and
- finally, will your decision produce spiritual fruit (Colossians 1:10; Gal 5:22-25)?
Even the apostles had to sometimes use their wisdom and biblical principles in making decisions. 1 Thessalonians 3:1 says, “So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to be left by ourselves in Athens.” (NIV). We see here the term “we thought it best”. Likewise, determine the best decision that will produce good fruit, glorify God, build one another up, and display Christ to others.
In conclusion, God sometimes delays answering your prayers because He wants to build you up and transform you in your waiting. He also knows what is best for you and when it is best to provide an answer. Next, if your prayer is not being answered, you need to examine your life and see what is blocking your prayers. Finally, in your Christian walk, God has given you the freedom to make everyday choices in life based on biblical principles and His God-given goals for the outcome of your life and His glory. Use these so that your decisions are in alignment with the will of God. Amen!