Psalm 21:1-2 (NLT)
How the king rejoices in your strength, O Lord! He shouts with joy because you give him victory. For you have given him his heart’s desire; you have withheld nothing he requested.
What would your life look like if God answered every one of your prayers in the affirmative? In the movie, Bruce Almighty, Jim Carey’s character gets to play God for a short period of time and one of the responsibilities that falls on him is to hear and answer prayers which come to him in the form of an email. At first, he is warm-hearted, taking the time to read and answer – in the affirmative – the first few that hit his in-box. But after that calm comes a storm as his “God account” receives thousands and then millions of requests in what appears to be an endless stream. Out of frustration, he hits the “Reply to All” button and supplies every single petitioner with a one-word answer: “Yes!”
You could imagine the chaos that ensued.
Psalm 21 is a song of victory over David’s enemies, and while verses 3-13 can also be read in the context of Jesus Christ as King, the first three verses are all about the earthly king, David. Our cynicism might push back and ask, “Who wouldn’t be rejoicing and shouting if God gave them every desire of their heart?” It’s a good question, but one that should generate another:
Why doesn’t God answer all of my prayers in the affirmative?
Many Christians set aside the factors that can hinder their prayers and reduce the question to a simple answer: God does answer every prayer request we offer up, either with a “Yes”, a “No”, or a “Wait”. But we also need to consider the prayers, themselves…as well as the one offering them up. Unanswered prayers should serve as a warning signal, of sorts. And while some prayers simply require a longer waiting period to come to fruition – assuming they are in line with God’s expressed will – others will simply bounce off the ceiling.
Scripture points to many prayer-hindering issues such as: Not abiding in Jesus (Jn. 15:7); Unbelief (Mth. 17:20); Failure to fast (Mth. 17:21); A bad marriage relationship (1 Pet. 3:7); Selfish praying (Jas. 4:3); Disobedience (1 Jn. 3:22); Not praying in God’s will (1 Jn. 5:14-15); Lack of bible reading and learning (Pr. 28:9). The Enduring Word bible commentary reminds us that, “Our prayers are not answered as if the avoidance of these things earns or merits God’s response, or if He is in debt to us if we do not do them. Yet they are clearly hindrances to answered prayer.” Praise the Lord that his grace and mercy flow into our lives despite our sin…but we must never forget that our obedience and the condition of our heart is always a part of the equation, too.