Question: Can our prayers be answered in the way we ‘expect’ if we have doubts that God ‘can’ and ‘will’ answer? Is an answer to prayer dependent on the ‘amount of faith’ exercised?
If we have doubts in God’s ability or willingness, then we don’t know God. If we don’t know God, then we don’t know His will. The command in scripture is to pray according to God’s will.
When can we be confident regarding the answer to our prayers?
- when we are confident that God is able
(Matthew 21:21-22; Hebrews 11:6)
- when we are confident what God’s will is (John 14:13-14)
What can prevent our prayers from being answered?
- lack of love (Luke 6:38; Proverbs 21:13; Proverbs 17:9)
- pride (James 4:3)
- doubt / lack of faith (James 1:5-8; Hebrews 11:6; John 15:16)
- disobedience (1 John 3:21-22; Proverbs 10:24)
- marital problems (1 Peter 3:7)
- unforgiveness (Matthew 6:12-15; Mark 11:25-26)
- lack of reconciliation with another person (Matthew 5:23-24)
- purposefully unconfessed sins (Psalms 66:18; Isaiah 59:2)
- living in idolatry (Proverbs 1:24-28)
- selfish prayers, not in God’s will (1 John 5:14)
What kind of faith (or how much faith) is necessary to receive an answer to prayer?
God knows our hearts, and if we are praying because we want to believe (we just have a hard time with it), God honours that and grows our faith.
Nowhere in scripture does it specify the amount of faith, except when Jesus states that it only takes a little bit (mustard seed size) to accomplish a lot. (Luke 17:6)
Examples of Prayers in Doubt that God answered:
1. Gideon doubted God’s ability to perform what God wanted to do through him. God answered his silly request of a fleece (twice) and went on to prove His power through Gideon despite his weak faith. God initiated the test. God proved the rest. Gideon’s faith grew as a result. (Judges 6)
2. Jesus was constantly asking His disciples “Why do you have so little faith?” Again God used tests to prove and grow their faith.
3. A father asked Jesus to heal his son ... and wasn’t fully sure if Jesus could do it. So, he included “help my unbelief.”
Doubt does not necessarily cancel faith. There may be times when doubt will hold us back from God, but there is a process and a tension to faith and doubt. - Ed Cyzewski
Types of Doubts
1. If you doubt that God hears, be encouraged by God’s word which tells you that He listens to all who truly believe in Him.
(Hebrews 4:15-16; James 5:16)
2. If you doubt that God is able, then you don’t know God and that He is able to do all that He wishes!
3. If you doubt that God desires to answer this prayer, then seek His will through listening and reading His word (and talking with other believers).
(Romans 12:1-2; Jeremiah 29:11; 1 Timothy 2:3-4)
4. If you doubt that God is good and desires good things for you, then He may appear fickle, arbitrary or unpredictable. Study His word to get to know Him better.
(John 3:16-18; 3 John 2; Psalm 35:27)