The third issue, in regards to answered prayer is whether we are even noticing the answers God sends. Let’s say you are shopping and you ask God to help you find a parking place. One appears and you say, “what luck” instead of “thank you Jesus!” It’s a simple illustration, but didn’t you just receive an answer to prayer and toss it off as a fluke? I think this is really common, because all we see is what happens in the physical world, not the spiritual one. So you prayed for a job, but it does not simply fall into your lap, you still have to go fill out an application, do the interview and get hired. Because you did not see God’s hand at work, does it mean He was not involved? No, it does not. In these cases, I think it is a matter of obedience to thank God for His answers, in whatever way they arrive.
On the other hand, there are times when God answers our prayers, and we simply fail to recognize them and take hold of them. My last year in college, due to a misunderstanding, I lost the room I stayed in the year before. I ended up in another house, where I was simply miserable. Eventually I got so fed up I prayed that God would get me out of there. Now mind you, I was in a big city and had little money. I was sure I had no options. Out of the blue, one day I was passing a small apartment complex and the owner or manager came out and wanted me to look at an available apartment. When I said I was sure I could not afford it, he dropped the price to something within $50 of what I was currently paying for a room. It was unheard of, far below market value. I was sure, because that was $25 over my budget, that I could not afford it and said no. However, I had earlier received a bit of extra money and the year was half over. I really could have managed it. Only later did I realize that there God was trying to give me a generous gift in answer to my prayer and I stayed in my miserable situation because I did not recognize it. I was afraid to even look at the place, because I was so sure I would want it, but still be stuck where I was. You see, I really did not expect God to do anything with that prayer, and because I was raised in tight circumstances, I did not ever expect generosity. I was literally expecting God to act like my parents and tell me to make do and be thankful there was a roof over my head.
I have heard it said, that we seldom see miracles in the United States, because we have an absence of faith. Perhaps it is easier to ask God to meet your needs if you live in a dirt floor shack in a poor country. From their perspective, even those of us who live in humble circumstances are wealthy, and there is that verse about how hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God. With a little humility though, perhaps we can admit to God that we are poor in spirit and in need of at least a mustard seed’s worth of faith and He will bless us. If you are not seeing answers to your prayers, how about praying for eyes to see them?
I will be happy to pray with you on that, and God just loves to answer my prayers!