How does God choose which prayers to answer?
I mean, if I’m praying for my favorite team to win, chances are pretty good someone on the opposing team is praying that too. So how does God choose which prayer to answer? Does whoever “prays hardest” win? Is there a “best person” factor God considers?
Turns out, those aren’t the right questions to ask.
God is not my personal vending machine, obligated to dispense whatever I happen to select. There’s danger in that distorted worldview of God. Not IF, but WHEN life doesn’t “dispense” what I “ordered” in my prayers, I’ll be tempted to kick the machine and run off pouting in anger at God. I’ve noticed that people who live in anger with God, even though He loves them and has riches galore for them, are not happy people. I don’t want to be like that. And honestly, I’m thankful God is wise enough to not always give me what I asked for!
When Jesus taught His disciples to pray to their Father in heaven, His model prayer included, “…Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Facing the cross, He prayed, “…not My will, but Yours be done.” (Matthew 6:10; Luke 22:42)
Wait! How am I supposed to be able to KNOW God’s will so I can pray THAT?
Two Things To Pray God’s Will
1. Ask the Holy Spirit how to pray for the matter.
As a member of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit knows God’s will. Searching our hearts and leading us in how to pray God’s will is one of His many job descriptions. He delights in revealing God to us! (Romans 8:26-27)
Of course, asking the Holy Spirit what to pray about implies there should be a listening component to our prayers… and that requires some discipline on our part. If we ask, we should quietly listen for the answer that He speaks in that still quiet voice inside us. After all, prayer is a conversation with God, led by the Holy Spirit, not a monologue of our wish lists.
2. Pray scripture over people, inserting their name into the Scripture.
Praying God’s Word is sure to bring some power-packed answered prayers because we KNOW we are praying His will when we pray Scripture. He promises His Word will powerfully accomplish His will. (Isaiah 55:11) Capitalize on that promise! Try it, using innumerable Scripture references as you read God’s Word.
For example, rather than praying, “God, please give Josh that college scholarship,” you might pray:
“And my God will meet all Josh’s needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19) Father, You know ALL of Josh’s needs so much better than I do. You know his obvious need for college scholarship monies and I ask that You who promise to provide all things will open and close doors for Josh to go to the college of Your choosing. If this scholarship is part of that path, we seek that. If You have a different plan, we seek that and will watch for that plan to unfold for him. Give him a firm foundation in truth about You, Jesus, so that he will spiritually and emotionally have “all that he needs” for each day. Thank you, Lord, that You are able to meet ALL his needs in Christ Jesus!
What impact has asking for the Holy Spirit’s guidance in prayer or scripture praying made in your own prayer life?
Meet the Author!
Gayle Hadden and her husband, Terry, have moved back to Oklahoma City and are getting plugged into Council Road Baptist Church as home group leaders. They are parents to three adult children and their spouses and are blessed with four adorable grandchildren, one of whom she recently visited in New Zealand. Gayle loves seeing God’s hand in nature, playing with grandkids, travel, birding and chocolate (dark please!) Serving Moms in Prayer International as a USA Division Coordinator for the seven Heartland states, she’s passionate about getting children and schools covered in prayer. Email her at Heartland@MomsInPrayer.org.