God Didn’t Answer My Prayer, Now What? 3 Steps to Get Your Prayers Answeredby David Ferguson
Whether you are a Jesus Led Business leader or not, when times get tough, many people all of a sudden start calling on Jesus. Payroll is due and you have no idea where the money is coming from, prayer time. Right before you submit that big proposal which could double the size of your company, prayer time. Your largest customer just called and said their budget was cut and they need to cease work on your contract, prayer time. Yeah, I’ve been in all those situations. And guess what, if I kept count of the number of prayers I’ve asked for, it would definitely outweigh the prayers that have been answered. So what does that mean? For some, it may be justification that God doesn’t exist, or at least is not active in their lives. But I know that’s not true, so there has to be a better explanation than that.
Here’s what I think.
1) Prayer is not a fast food drive-thru. As much as I like Burger King’s motto “Have it your way”, prayer is not about placing your order with God and getting your desired result. Jesus gives us a great example of this in Luke 22:42 when he was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane to avoid the future, He knew was about to come. Luckily for us, and our salvation, that prayer wasn’t answered. Prayer is not about placing orders; it’s about a conversation and a relationship with God. And in fact, there are multiple types of prayers identified in the Bible. Prayers where you ask for stuff, prayers for intercession, for praise, thanksgiving, forgiveness, and many more. So, if you’re only praying to God when you need something, I’m not saying your prayers won’t be answered, but you’re probably missing out on some of the relationship you’re seeking.
2) God knows best. And at the end of the prayer, Jesus, as He did in Luke 22:42, gives us a reason why our prayers are not sometimes answered when He says, “yet not by my will, but yours be done.” This is a major key we have to grasp and come to grips with as a Jesus Led Business. God is in charge. He knows what is in our best interests, both in our life and in our business. There have been times when I really wanted to win some large contracts that would take my business to the next level. For example, one time we spent over a year doing business development and proposal work for an $80 million contract. We felt really confident we had the winning proposal and while I wasn’t counting my chickens before they hatched, I had my faith on strong and my prayers were submitted (as well as many on our team). I was big time focused on Matthew 7:7, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Long story short, we lost the contract. We got 2nd place and there was no consolation prize. I was devastated and my team was devastated too.
My disappointment didn’t last long however, as I was comfortable enough in my faith that God must have something better in store for me, and for whatever reason, my path wasn’t meant to include this large contract. I couldn’t tell you for sure if I am better off without that contract or not, but what I can say is that the company who won the contract found it to be completely overwhelming to their company. I have no idea if it ended up being a blessing or curse to them, but I do know the customer came back to us a year later and gave us a smaller contract as they decided it was better to give us the work than to add it to the existing contract of the winner. Overall, we performed wonderfully and grew that contract into more work and it became a complete blessing for my organization (in fact, we went on to get multiple contracts from that customer). At the very least, I can imagine that if I had won the larger contract, it would have put me on a path that required so much of my time that I would have never had time to start my software business or to start this Jesus Led Business blog.
My point? When prayers are not answered, trust there is a good reason and keep moving so you can get to that next blessing. Don’t get stuck on the thing you wanted and didn’t receive.
3) Stop Blocking your Blessings. It’s easy to point to God and think, “He didn’t answer my prayer,” but like the old saying goes “when you point at someone else you have 4 fingers pointing back at you.” Sometimes you need to do a little self-inspection and see if maybe your prayers are not being answered because you’re doing something to block them. There are lots of things that we could be doing to block our prayers. So, when I seem to get in a spiritual rut, I like to check out what’s going on in my life that may be blocking the blessing. There are quite a few prayer-blocking things mentioned in the Bible. Here are just a few examples:
- Bad Motives – James 4:3 “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”
- Out of His Will – 1 John 5:14-15 “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him.”
- Not in a Solid Relationship – John 15:7 “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”
- Non Belief – Matthew 21:22 “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”
What I have found in my experience is that my prayers stop getting answered when I’m on my path and not God’s path. For example, if I’ve received a message to do something, and I haven’t done it, I sometimes realize that until I go and do what God is telling me to do, the things I want are really not that important according to God’s will. How do I know this? Because once I do what I was told to do, things start flowing again. I’ve seen this consistently in my life to the point that when things don’t seem to be going my way in prayer, I immediately reflect back to “what am I supposed to be doing that I’m not?” It could be as simple as realizing I’ve gotten out of relationship with God and need to spend more time reading the Bible and in prayer/communication. A more tangible example is this blog site. The idea for Jesus Led Business was placed in my mind and heart over 3 years ago, but I hadn’t acted upon it. I felt I had other things to do, and honestly, I don’t like writing. I finally got to the point where I literally couldn’t think about anything but the website. And, for the past few months, all I seem to want to do is write. But more importantly, all my recent prayer requests regarding the growth of my other businesses seemed to have stalled in recent years. Sure, the economy and recession play a part, but a Jesus Led Business can grow in any economy. Upon self-inspection and prayer, I realized that I wasn’t listening to something God had placed on me. So, here I am, blogging (something I never thought I would do)!
So, next time you submit a prayer request, keep some of these concepts in mind. Don’t think of God as the drive-thru at a fast food restaurant where you can place your order and pull up to the next window to get an answer. When you pray, pray in God’s will and trust in whatever the outcome will be. And lastly, make sure you’re not hindering your own prayers by operating out of alignment with His word. I find doing these 3 steps really help me deal with the ups and downs of running a business and also keeps me in a healthy relationship with God, and ultimately a healthy relationship in both life and business.
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And, in the meanwhile, continue to… Pray About It, Be About It, and Praise About It!
Thanks for reading and God Bless.