Jesus challenged all people by saying that if they had faith they could move mountains. [Mark 11 -23 ]. Against this background there are the apparent unanswered prayers of many people. We have grown so much to accept that prayer is largely unanswered, that we have accepted this as normality.
A relative of mine has said as much, in quoting about “You receive not because you ask amiss”. Now we sometimes get the idea that Jesus didn’t quite “get” the idea that “we” are a sinful lot, that He was often surprised at our inability to function as His disciples, even after having received specific instructions from Him.
Does this then mean that we have not “a snowball’s chance in hell” of meeting the required criteria to enable our prayers to be answered? Jesus threw out the challenge, and it is for us to take it up. John wrote that “if your heart does not condemn you, ask what you will and it shall be done”. Or, “He hears us”..Jesus also said “I know that He always hears me”. So this indicates there are conditions to the answering of prayer. [“hearing” could indicate that the reality of the prayer content agrees with the reality of God and His will and purpose.] [To “believe that you have it” means you are trusting God]
My relative seems to have totally dismissed the idea of God acting in any way other than to act only for our direct spiritual welfare, IE, that He will not interrupt trials and testings, and does not “intercede” for those things that daily concern us. There is also the thought that now we have sophisticated hospital systems, that we should rely on them before bothering God. Certainly scripture is full of the theme of suffering, but there is also plenty of encouragement to ask in prayer for those situations that are on our heart.
It seems there is almost an automatic element to power in prayer, because Jesus said “whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and you WILL receive it. In fact more than this, that you HAVE received it. So is it possible for someone with the correct “attitude” to gain powerful responses from their petitions to God? Does this mean that those with an extra portion of “faith” can manifest the power of God?
The “conditions” though, for the rest of us, would seem to require that we are fully committed. “A double minded man will receive nothing from God”. “The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effect”. Are we aware of areas in our lives that are not fully surrendered or committed to God? Can we assess our lives as those being in service to Jesus? Assured that we are his servants, having given ourselves over to His will??
If He truly “lives in us” and We are His body to perform as servants to Him in the world, and we know His love and keep our conscience clear before Him, do we then not meet the conditions for that prayer to be answered?
Are we convinced that we are doing His will, doing what He wants, rather than what WE want? Is it that hard to be loving Him and by our service to Him, loving our “neighbour” as well?
James says we must be doers of the word. He says that we show our faith by our “works”. And this is the only true faith that there is.
Do we want our prayers answered? Then we must “meet His challenge”, to be able to pray BELIEVING THERE IS NO REASON WHY IT SHOULD NOT HAPPEN. Jesus said that He did always those things that pleased His Father, and that is why “He always hears me”. Can we say that? Are we prepared to investigate this challenge? Otherwise, we should surely not be too surprised that prayer seems ineffectual.
[DO NOT DOUBT seems to be a common theme. Jesus rebuked Peter when he was sinking.] [PS also consider asking as a little child. (Abba, Father.) ]