The Key to Answered Prayer
By Dr. Charles Stanley
Watch The Key to Answered Prayer video.
I. Introduction: How should you and I respond when God doesn’t seem to be answering our prayers? Maybe you have been asking Him to meet a pressing need or grant a particular desire, yet nothing seems to be happening. In situations like these, most believers are tempted to give up. But in Matthew 7:7-8, Jesus promised, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” Within this passage is the key to answered prayer: God responds when His children seek His face with perseverance and confidence.
II. If we want the Lord to answer our prayers, we must . . .
- Pray with perseverance.
- What did Jesus mean when He said “seek” and “knock” in Matthew 7:7-8? He was inviting believers to approach the Father freely with our petitions, fully expecting Him to provide all we need. The verbs in this passage are best translated as “seek, and keep on seeking” and “knock, and keep on knocking.” In other words, some of the gifts God has for us come only after long seasons of waiting and praying.
- The Father always responds to our prayers—but those answers can take one of three forms.
- He sometimes says “yes” immediately or within a short period of time. By responding to our prayers quickly, God opens our eyes to how faithful He’ll be with other needs brought before Him.
- Another answer is “wait.” When you sense that the Lord is saying “wait,” ask Him to reveal any wrong motives or incorrect perspectives which might be contributing to the delay (James 4:3). Persevering in prayer gives the Father the opportunity to work within us and our circumstances.
- A third way God responds is with “I have something better.” The Father knows your needs and desires, and He truly wants to meet them. However, He will sometimes withhold what we want if it is not His best for our lives. Nevertheless, we should keep praying—at the right time, the Lord will meet our desires in the most satisfying way possible.
- Pray with confidence.
- Confidence in prayer is belief in the trustworthiness of God. Our Heavenly Father can be trusted to give us gifts that are beneficial in every way (Matt. 7:9-11).
- It’s always best to wait on God’s perfect timing. Think about how Mary and Martha waited while Lazarus was dying. At first, Jesus’ delay did not seem good to the sisters, but what was the end result? The Savior did something better than heal Lazarus; He raised him from the dead. (John 11:1-44). To this day, we are talking about this miracle that proved Jesus’ power over death.
- There have been a number of occasions when the Lord asked me to wait for no apparent reason. One involved postponing buying a new automobile after a collision. Eventually, a church member gave me a check for a far nicer car than I would have bought on my own. Another time, He wanted me to wait on buying a house. Feeling pressure to settle on a property, I entered into a contract anyway. In His mercy, the basement of the house flooded that very night, giving me a legitimate reason for getting out of the contract. Of course, the Lord doesn’t always provide a second chance for us to obey Him. That’s why it’s always best to submit to His will the first time around.
III. Conclusion: Is there something you’ve been asking God for but have yet to receive? If so, do not be discouraged. Persist in prayer, confident that He is preparing something special for you. Let Him work in your heart and circumstances. Perhaps He’ll soon provide exactly what you are requesting, or maybe you will be surprised with a far better gift. Your Heavenly Father enjoys giving to you because He loves you and wants you to experience intimacy with Him—the best gift anyone will ever have.