I recommend that you read the accompanying article on ‘God the Giver’ with this one.
How does God respond to our prayers?
What is God’s side to our prayers?
How does He view our prayers?
Some claim we simply cannot know or understand God. They use this to excuse away all kinds of things with religious sounding words and phrases, which do not really line up with the Bible.
Some take the attitude that you have to try to convince God to do what you are asking, even with the mentality we have to knock down the gates of heaven to get in! A number of years ago someone showed me a picture they had drawn of someone sitting in a military tank, headed towards the gates of heaven, with the caption underneath reading, ‘storming the gates of heaven’. My immediate thought was: Why would we need to storm down gates that are not even locked to us?
Do you have to storm down the gates or front door to your house very time you come home from work in the evening?
Do you make your kids sit outside and bang on the door to your house begging to come in each day, and only let them in if they bang loud and long enough?
That kind of behaviour could even be considered abusive to your children! Christians are the family of God. He is our Father and we are His children. He is not the kind of Father who treats His children abusively.
People have developed a view of God that shows Him as closed off and tight-fisted, holding on to the answers to our prayers reluctant to give them up to us! This view is not Biblical at all, and is completely opposite to the way God is portrayed in Scripture. We need to be willing to let go of our own preconceived religious views and come to see Him for who He really is.
God is not trying to keep you out of heaven and out of the throne room! Instead He is longing for you to come in. He WANTS us in His presence. There is an ongoing invite into His presence.
The Bible shows that in God’s presence we will find a receptive attitude and a willingness to respond to our prayers.
There are those who take the attitude that God may or may not be interested in our prayers. He may not really be ‘bothered’ with your request. These mentalities and others like them are not scriptural. They are men’s teachings and ideas on the subject.
What we need to find out is what does the Bible itself say?
Firstly we need to look at the issue of CAN we know God’s side? Or is it just a complete mystery to us?
:15 “No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.
This is Jesus speaking. He does not leave me the impression that the Father is holding back or wanting to leave us not understanding Him. He says, we are no longer called servants of God, but friends, and the reason He gives for us being friends is because He wants to make things known to us. (specifically ‘all things that I have heard from The Father’ – that covers a lot of ground!)
:15b ..because I have given you knowledge of all the things which my Father has said to me
(Bible in Basic English)
I believe what Jesus said above what people say or teach today. I believe Jesus is a good authority to look to on anything concerning God! Jesus taught that we are no longer supposed to be ignorant or in the dark, but that we are to be coming to a place of understanding our Father’s plans and will
:9 having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself,
Some claim the will of God is a mystery we simply cannot comprehend. But here we see in Ephesians that He has made known to us the mystery of His will. A mystery that is made known is no longer a mystery! It is God’s pleasure to make known to us His will.
:17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
We are instructed here to know the will of the Lord. That must mean we can!
So we are supposed to see and understand things concerning God. God does not want us left in the dark or ‘clueless’ about Him and His will.
The Lord is not trying to withhold information and truth from you, He wants you to understand.
This applies in our prayer lives. We can come to the place where we know how heaven views our prayers. We can be confident and assured of God’s attitude toward our prayers and the response He gives.
Where are we going to find out how God views and responds to our prayers?
Are we supposed to speculate and come to our own conclusions?
Or are we just supposed to accept what we have ‘always been told’ based upon religious tradition?
No, I don’t believe so. We come to know anything about God through His Word.
So in the Word of God we can learn how He views and responds to our prayers. What we see in the Word of God about God we can be confident about and speak of in terms of certainty.
So lets look at some of what the Word reveals about what kind of attitude God has and the response we can expect from Him to our prayers:
:16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Really this verse says it all! It shows open access to the Throne room of God, where we can come ‘in time of need’ and find what we need!
Heaven’s response is one of availability when we have a need. This is the mentality we need to develop in our prayer lives: That we are coming before a Throne that is willing to listen to us and to respond with the needed help and resources.
How are we to come to the Throne of Grace?
Some would say we should tip toe quietly in, almost with the attitude we don’t belong there or don’t deserve to be there. But here the Bible teaches us to come with boldness. Boldness in the original Greek here speaks of with assurance and confidence.
If we were not sure whether we should even be in God’s Throne room asking for what we need, or whether He would be interested in hearing us, we would not be able to come boldly.
What gives boldness is knowing the kind of response you will get when you come.
If I have a need in my life, I am a lot more confident to go to my parents and ask for help, then I am to go to someone I hardly know. When I don’t know someone it is a lot harder to come out boldly and say what I need to say! Boldness in asking comes from knowing the Person you are talking to and what kind of response you believe you will get from them.
Also, if I knew my parents were angry with me and would yell at men if I came in, I would not be able to come in boldly! I would probably avoid going in.
People who think God is angry with them and out to get them cannot enter His presence with any boldness, because they are not sure what to expect when they get there. In order to have boldness when you enter, you have to know something about what to expect when you get there.
The Boldness comes from knowing that God’s Throne room is open and available to you to come before and ask, and also that you know you will receive.
Notice this same mentality in the following two verses:
:18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
:12 In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.
The word translated, ‘access’ here can also be translated as ‘admission’. We have admission into the Father’s presence. This speaks of a right to enter, not a locked door or a closed off attitude.
We have open access to the Father because of Jesus. In the world we live in, there are often certain ‘etiquettes’ involved in approaching people of power and influence. For example, coming before a King or Ruler of a nation. Often there is a way to come before them and a way not to! There is an expected way to approach them that is regarded as acceptable.
In Hebrews 4:16 and the scriptures we just saw in Ephesians, we are told HOW to approach the God of the Universe! Come boldly (Hebrews 4:16)…., with confidence (Ephesians 3:12)
A place of receiving
Also, in Hebrews 4:16, we are told, ‘Come … that we may obtain…’
It doesn’t say, ‘Come, but you never know what you can expect there…’
Nor does it say, ‘Come, but don’t think you’re going to get anything…’
It does not say, ‘Come, but God may not be in the mood to give you anything…’
It says come that you may obtain.
The word obtain could also be translated receive. This is telling us that the throne of Grace, God’s throne is a place where you can expect to receive.
Many people do not expect to receive anything when they come to God in prayer. Although they may hope to receive they are not convinced they will, because they do not see God’s Throne as a place of receiving.
We do not see here the attitude that heaven attempts to withhold your grace and mercy, to keep it or in any way stop you getting it. There is no indication here that you might not get it. Rather: Come and get it.
Why can you come and get it? Because it is freely available to those who come!
A study of the Bible will show that the Throne of God is a place the believer can come and receive from.
:24 Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.
This is Jesus speaking.
Do you think Jesus knew what He was talking about?
He said, ‘…when you pray… believe you receive…’
There is to be a belief and a confidence that you receive what you are praying about… WHEN you pray (not just after you pray).
Many people determine whether they receive by the results that follow AFTER they pray, but here the Word tells us to have the believe WHEN we pray that we receive. In order to have this we need to know that we are coming before a Throne that gives what we are asking for, when we ask.
How could anyone have a belief they received anything if they are not sure they did?
If you approach God with an attitude of uncertainty whether you will get anything, then you will not be able to have confidence and assurance when you are praying that you receive anything from God.
The only way you can have a belief that you receive what you pray for is that you know you are coming before a God who gives and you are coming into a Throne room where you can receive.
In order to be able to have the belief that you receive when you pray, you need to know what the Word of God teaches on the subject. Hearing the Word on a subject develops our beliefs in that area.
The Bible shows the Throne room of God to be a place where we will receive.
:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
When you come and ask for Wisdom how does God respond? Does HE withhold? Does He say no?
Look at verse 5. We are told in this verse some very specific information about God in connection to us asking for Wisdom:
We are to ask of God, who gives!
That is so awesome, because it shows what kind of God we are praying to.
He is a God, who gives! This is how we can know and believe we receive. By having confidence in His giving nature, we can believe that when we pray we receive.
This is such a different mentality to what many have where they portray God as one who is withholding what we need!
Notice the last phrase of the verse: It WILL be given to him.
God’s side is clear and this verse leaves us no room to be uncertain about HIS side. Once it clearly states God’s side of the issue, it then goes on in verses 6 & 7 to examine your side and that is where it locates the possible areas the prayer may not work. God’s side is unquestioned.
The only explanation it gives for the person in James 1:5-7 NOT receiving is because they got into doubt.
Why is it that modern theology spends time questioning GOD’S side of our prayers, when the Bible spends no time on that issue?
The Bible presents an open access Throne room where God gives when asked, and you can expect to obtain and receive.
Surely if we are accurately teaching the Bible, we should put the emphasis in the same places the Bible does! The Bible does not question God’s side, rather it teaches God’s side as open and willing to give.
God gives liberally. Consider the following verses.
:6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
1 Timothy 6:17
:17 Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.
:11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield; The LORD will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold From those who walk uprightly.
:32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?
These verses show a God who GIVES. He Rewards those who diligently seek Him. He is not sitting up in heaven with a frown upon His face looking for ways to keep your prayer answers away from you! He has not bolted the doors of heaven, and neither is He dangling your answered prayers before you like a donky following a carrot, but all the time keeping them out of your reach!
No: He gives.
God is the God who gives, and because He gives, we can believe we receive when we pray.
And if those verses were not enough, lets look at another:
2 Corinthians 1:17-20
:17 Therefore, when I was planning this, did I do it lightly? Or the things I plan, do I plan according to the flesh, that with me there should be Yes, Yes, and No, No?
:18 But as God is faithful, our word to you was not Yes and No.
:19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us–by me, Silvanus, and Timothy–was not Yes and No, but in Him was Yes.
:20 For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.
When you approach God and ask Him for what He has promised in His Word, does He sit there and consider whether to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’?
Is God the kind of God who says, ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ to people about the promises He has made?
Does God go back on His promises or only say, ‘Yes’ to some people and ‘no’ to others when He has promised a thing in his Word?
Not according to these verses! Man has taught God in a way that shows Him to make a promise, then later back out on it for some people and not make it good, but the Bible does not show a God like that.
When God makes a promise in His Word, you can have confidence that when you come to Him with this promise He will still say, ‘Yes’ to you about that promise. God does not make a promise in His Word, then say later to an individual, ‘No you cannot have it’.
Once we have a promise from God’s Word, then we have assurance that heaven’s answer on that promise is already yes! God made up His mind to say, ‘Yes’ when He made the promise, long before you ever came to ask, and once determined, His ‘Yes’ never changes.
God’s Word and promises are NOT ‘yes’ and ‘no’. He says it plainly! Do we believe this?
The Word is YES… YES … YES
The promises of God are YES… YES … YES!
MAN added in the ‘no’ to religious teaching. Man added in the, ‘God might or might not…’
So when we come before God and ask, with one of His promises, what type of response can we expect from heaven?
Can we expect a negative response?
Or can we expect a positive response?
The Bible teaches, God says, ‘Yes’ so the REAL issue is – Do we believe the Bible?
Do we believe in a God who answers prayer and moves on our behalf when we pray like He promised in His Word?
I am not forcing God, HE IS THE ONE who already made it like this and told us about it in His Word. All I am doing is believing what He already said, because I believe He is still good to what He said.
Many people have completely the wrong impression of God. God actually WANTS to answer your prayer. He desires to give you what you ask for!
God is not trying to keep anything from you – He is trying to GET THINGS to you.
This is a very different mentality to how many people approach pray and asking God for things, but that is the way the Bible shows it to be. God wants to give to us, but there are ways to get it! That’s where we miss it and end up without!
We have been looking at the issue of: How does heaven respond to your prayers?
We have seen so far that it is possible to know the will and plan of God. This does not have to be a mystery, because God Himself has chosen to reveal it to us By His Spirit, and we can have confidence in what is revealed.
We have also seen that God is a Giver and that when we come before Him we can have confidence of receiving from Him. God is a God who gives upon request. We can come to a throne room that is open and is a place of receiving.
We have seen that God says, ‘Yes’ to us when we come with His promises. His promises are ‘yes’.
Each of these steps, although they sound simple, are very important and many people have struggled in these areas and this has affected their faith and confidence before God in prayer, resulting in them doubting and questioning whether God would answer.
Lets look at another part of this:
God hears me when I pray
1 John 5:14-15
:14 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.
:15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.
For now, don’t get focused on the part of this verse which states, ‘if we ask anything according to His will…’ . People often read verses of scripture and get stuck on one phrase and miss what God wants them to see in the rest of the verse. Don’t miss the point we are looking at in this teaching because your mind is so caught up on that issue.
This teaching is not on the will of God, there are some articles available on our website that do talk about the will of God, but what I will say for now is that God’s WILL is revealed in His WORD. When you pray according to the Word, you are praying in line with His will.
Lets look at the part that is relevant to what we are studying right now which is: how does heaven respond to our prayers?
Here we see that it says of God that ‘He hears us…’ It also says, ‘…this is the confidence we have in him…’
There are things that we are told in this verse that we can be confident and assured of. This is one of them: We can be confident that God hears us. God hears prayers that are prayed according to His will (Word)
This is far more important than most realise! Your prayers can get the EAR of the God of the universe!
When you ask – according to His will (that’s His WORD) HE HEARS you!
Rather than having a closed ear or an uninterested approach, God is paying attention to your requests! We need confidence in prayer and confidence in the God who hears and answers prayer.
Since prayer is about talking to God, then if we are going to see any point in praying we need to know that He is listening and that He hears and responds to our prayers. Without that our prayers are just empty words thrown into the air in a hope that someone (hopefully God!) might catch them – that mentality is not enough to pray effectively!
This shows that IF He hears you (and you know He hears you) then you KNOW you have the answer you prayed for! This comes back to the receiving or the obtaining. You have it! In other words you got something there.
When you prayed and came before the Lord, He listened and heard and gave! You received.
These verses are encouraging! God hears our prayers, His ears are open to our praying. When you pray you are not trying to get heaven’s attention, or banging down the gates of heaven to get heard! God has already given you His Word that He is listening – His ears are tentative to your prayers!
What better thing is there in life than to have the attention of the God of the universe, who is ready to move on your behalf when you pray? What situation is big enough to stand against Almighty God who stands with you and backs you when you pray?
1 Peter 3:12
:12 For the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the LORD is against those who do evil.”
Here we see the same truth: His ears are open. In other words He listens to, He hears our prayers.
Getting the ear of the God of the universe is about the best thing you could ever do in life!
If you can get His ear, you can get Him to do something about the problem! Most people are not even sure if God is listening to them when they pray, but these scriptures show us He is. They show a hearing and listening God.
Some say, ‘Well I prayed, but I don’t know if it did any good. I don’t know if God was listening!’
You know He was listening because His Word said so!
I thank God He HEARS my prayers. My praying is not just wasted, empty effort into nothingness! My praying is not just empty words, hoping somebody out there is listening! God is listening to my prayers!
Many are not aware that God hears them pray. They say they are but their actions speak otherwise, that act and speak like God hasn’t heard them. Most people don’t believe they get anything when they pray, they are still ‘trying’ to get it because they have not come to a place where they believe God has heard them and has responded.
In order to believe you receive anything when you pray, you must believe God heard you and then responds, which is what 1 John 5:14,15 teaches us. It says that if you know He heard you, then you know you have… in order to know you have, God must have responded to your prayer!
There is an important aspect of faith involved here. It doesn’t say you know He answered when you see the result in the physical realm! It says you know you have it because you know He heard you.
That’s where we miss it: it will eventually come into this realm but that’s not the first thing that happens! You can actually STOP it coming into the physical realm if you respond wrong at this step
This is where FAITH comes in. Faith involves believing the Bible above what you see in the natural realm around you. When God says something, and everything else says something else, faith chooses to go with what God said.
If God said He heard and answered my prayer, then I believe it, and it is just a matter of time before it shows up in the natural realm and my eyes see it!
Now I must ACT on that faith and believe and act like God heard and answered my prayer.
When I leave prayer disappointed and acting like I got nothing, I am saying I do NOT believe God heard and answered me.
:24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.
‘…believe you receive…’
You wouldn’t have to believe you receive if you could SEE it yet!
God wants us to take His Word on the matter before we can see any results yet. That is faith, and you will only ever SEE it when you step into this. Otherwise you will hinder your result getting to you!
What we believe is based upon what God said rather than the circumstances around us. God said he heard me when I pray, and He said that if I know He heard me, I know I have it… so I believe that.
We must believe that God responds when He hears us – HE said HE does! When you leave God’s presence, you should leave believing He has heard you and responded: He has given you what you asked for! You must believe there is an immediate response. Many are still waiting FOR God to do something – they don’t believe they received anything yet, and this is hindering them getting results in their praying. Keep your eyes on what God said.
How does someone who believes they got something act?
This is the final key you need to know right now, and it is about YOUR side.
Once you know you came before a God who listens and willing to give, once you ask and know that He gives and that you receive, there is a response from you that is important.
:6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;
:7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
This speaks of thanksgiving. When we ask God, we are to ask with thanksgiving.
Why do you say ‘Thank you’ to someone?
You say think you because you believe they have done something for you.
When you ask God for something, and then Thank Him for it, you are showing faith that you believe He responds and gives and that you have received.
Nest you walk in peace. Why? You know that the thing you asked Him about is sorted out. Even though you may not see it yet with your eyes in this realm, you keep your focus on Him and remind yourself that He has heard and responded and now you keep thanking Him it is done.
I hope that this article has opened your eyes to the response that you can expect from God to your prayers. He is not a closed off God. You do not have to bang down heaven’s doors!
You can come boldly, knowing that there is an open and receptive attitude toward you in God’s presence and a willingness to give and answer your prayers.
This article, along with others by the same author can be found at www.exceedingfaith.com
Unless otherwise stated, all scriptures used are quoted from the New King James Version of the Bible.
(C) 2008 Exceeding Faith Ministries International & O. Walton.
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