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I have two children who are into meth. I have been praying for them along with other family members. I don't understand why these prayers are not being answered. Is there a certain way I need to pray or ask? I'm new to this, and think I'm not asking in the right way.
I also feel like Satan is starting to attack my family and me for praying. Does this happen? I have no peace, and I'm afraid to go to sleep because of nightmares... but those could be from all the stress I have in my life.
If you can suggest any books to help me become stronger in my faith and learn to pray, I would greatly appreciate it; I'm too embarrassed to ask. Thank you for your time.
Mom Who's Trying
Dear Mom Who’s Trying,
God desires to answer our prayers, and He says that a righteous christian’s prayers do make a difference (Pr 15:29, Jas 5:16). However, when we pray about things, it isn’t as simple as we just get what we are asking for because God has multiple principles that He must keep in balance at all times.
If God simply forced people to become better people because you prayed for them, that would remove our freedom of choice. After all, He tells us that we reap what we sow in this life (Gal 6:7). We make certain choices that get us addicted to sin… we must make choices (often painful – like disclosing the sin) to remove the addiction. The fact that you are praying for your children is wonderful, but they are responsible for their own decisions, and God won’t force them to change if that isn’t what they want.
As far as books we would recommend, the best thing you can do is read your Bible – especially the Psalms – to get you through this time of grief. The Psalms are songs and prayers written by faithful people who sometimes suffered greatly. That is our number one recommendation to someone in your situation – read the Psalms. Otherwise, if you need help finding a congregation, we would be happy to help you find one.
Is it wrong to pray for someone who is dead? I was told the Bible says it is wrong, and I don't remember reading that. Thank you.
Dear Morbid Curiosity,
1 Jn 5:16 is probably the verse you are thinking of, but that doesn’t really deal with dead people; it pertains to people who are purposefully turning their backs on the Lord. We are told not to request that God forgive people who aren’t seeking to live faithfully.
Having said that, your question deals with people that are already dead, and that is an entirely different issue. Heb 9:27 says that people die and then face the judgment. There is no room for someone’s fate to be changed once they die. If your goal through prayer is to make it so someone who already died can go to heaven instead of hell, that won’t work.
Does God hear or answer an unsaved person’s prayer? I am saved but have been wanting some Scripture to answer my question.
Is He Listening?
Dear Is He Listening,
God recognizes the prayers of the faithful only. There is no doubt that God hears the prayers of christians (Jas 5:16). God hears the prayers of the righteous, but He is far from the wicked (Pr 15:29). God is constantly listening to hear the prayers of christians, but He sets His face against those who do evil. God says that even a christian who isn’t treating others well (specifically their spouse) will have their prayers hindered (1 Pet 3:7).
God does not answer the prayers of those who are ungodly. When Israel turned away from God, He stopped answering their prayers (Micah 3:4). When Judah became wicked and followed false teachings, He stopped hearing their prayers and accepting their worship (Isa 1:13-15). The same would hold true for those who fall away today. God will stop listening to and answering their prayers. It isn’t that He doesn’t hear them – He simply ignores their requests. Those outside of Christ are promised that if they seek God, they will find Him (Lk 11:9). All of mankind has the ability to ask for truth and find it, but only christians can ask God as a child asks a father (Mat 7:11). The ability to seek God’s help through prayer is a blessing given only to those who serve God (Jhn 9:31).
Does prayer really work??? I pray for situations to change in my life, and they don't. I do the best I can to try to get ahead, but it seems like more frustrating things end up in my path. Furthermore, it seems as a slap in the face to my faith. I watch those around me who barely believe in God live fulfilling lives. What does God want me to do?
Up In Arms
Dear Up In Arms,
Prayers do work, but God still has veto power. We are told to pray that “if the Lord wills, we will do this or that” (Jas 4:15). Jesus taught His disciples to pray for the Lord’s will to be done (Matt 6:10). Part of prayer is that we need to learn to trust that God knows what He is doing. We are entreating the Creator of the Universe with our problems, and just like any loving father, our Heavenly Father sometimes says, “No” to our requests. As every parent knows, children sometimes ask for things that aren’t in their best interest, or they ask things unaware of the bigger picture. God wants to give us good gifts (Matt 7:11)… sometimes that means that He answers our prayers by giving us something different than what we expected.
Now, let’s talk about those prosperous unbelievers that you are seeing. Your frustration is valid, and David had the same frustration. In Psalm 73, David talked about his animosity toward the success of the ungodly… he said it made him so mad that he almost fell away from God (Ps 73:2). However, David finally concluded that the ungodly were not blessed because their entire existence was slippery and dependent upon their physical prosperity (Ps 73:18). Only God’s people have an eternal hope that gives us comfort regardless of how life goes here (Ps 73:27-28).
I am feeling very sick right now, and I have a question: why do I still feel the same though I have already prayed?
Ill At Ease
Dear Ill At Ease,
There are two reasons that God might not have answered your prayers yet. The first reason is that He is ignoring your prayers because you aren’t a christian, or you aren’t living faithfully. Read “Whose Prayers Count?” for the list of things that will make God turn His back on your prayers.
The other reason is that God’s timing is different than yours. God answers our prayers according to His will, not ours – in fact, we should pray that the Lord’s will be done (Jas 4:15). Having said that, it is perfectly appropriate to keeping praying until the answer is clear – God is pleased with the consistently prayerful (1 Thess 5:17). He wants you to ask over and over – until He gives you an answer. David prayed vehemently for the life of his child until the child died (2 Sam 12:22-23). Paul prayed for his sickness to be removed three times until God told him to accept the pain (2 Cor 12:8-9). Cornelius’ prayers were constantly before the Lord until Peter was sent (Acts 10:4-5). Even our Lord prayed in the garden repeatedly that He might not have to die on the cross (Matt 26:39). The key in all these circumstances was that the requests ceased when God answered. Once God made His decision apparent, whether it was yes or no, acceptance began.
God never gets tired of hearing from His children. Christians are to constantly seek Him in prayer. The most direct example of this is Christ’s parable of the unjust judge in Lk 18:1-5. Christ taught that parable so that “men ought always to pray, and not to grow weary”. God wants to hear from His people. So don’t stop asking for help; He is listening. We are so sorry for your illness, and we will pray for you as well.