I’ve been a Christian for a long time, and I started out praying a lot, but it just seemed like my prayers weren’t being answered. I began to think that maybe only special people get their prayers answered—and maybe I wasn’t spiritual enough. I just stopped praying for things and direction, so I wouldn’t feel bad at not getting what I asked for. What’s wrong with me?
I think part of the problem we have as believers is that we hear verses like John 14:14: “If you ask anything in my name, I will do it,” and we think that’s like “open, sesame” to anything we want. If you think about it, no wise parent would tell their kids they can have everything . . . including things that are bad for them. A medicine cabinet is a good thing, but my kids knew early on that not everything in there was good for them. A Christian needs to realize that Jesus’ statement is not a blanket statement: it is to be taken within the context of all that the Bible says about prayer. Sometimes we ask for silly things—things that are probably selfish and wrong for us. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures (see James 4:3). When we pray we ought to consider what God thinks about our requests. Is this His will? A good prayer is when we ask God to give us only what He wants, and to keep us from that which He doesn’t want for us. Some of the best answers I’ve ever received to my prayers were the ones when God simply said, “No.” When you pray you ought to have faith that God will do what is best in every situation in your life (see James 1:5). As people of prayer we ought to be living in a way that pleases God, not necessarily perfect, but certainly with a heart that wants to glorify Him. Prayer warriors live in such a way as to honor God and love people. So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.