Troublesome Topic: What Kind of Prayer Does God Always Answer?

God always answers true prayer, and He always answers, “Yes.”

You may think that is a huge over-statement. Examples may already be coming to your mind of times when you prayed and God did not answer “Yes.” But hold on with me for the next few moments and allow me to explain.

There is much confusion about prayer, what it is, and how well it works. We want to believe there really is power in prayer, but our personal experience causes us to doubt. Eric and Leslie Ludy have this to say about how Americans feel about prayer: “Our beef with the powerlessness of prayer is actually a beef with the powerlessness of unbiblical prayer. Prayer, as built after the biblical pattern, works—it is that simple.”

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What Are the Ingredients of True Prayer?

Ingredient #1 Praying what God desires—praying what is obviously His will.

Prayer must originate in the Father’s will, not our will or our desires. Jesus did only what His Father was doing; He spoke only what His Father was speaking (Jn. 5:19-20).

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We should apply this principle to our praying. We need to train ourselves to pray what God is desiring. James 4:3 says, “You ask and do not receive because you ask with evil intent, so that you can squander it on your pleasures.” That is exactly what we have done. We have made prayer about us! How childish! How selfish! Prayer is not about our desires; it is about coming into agreement with God’s desires. True prayer means to come alongside God in His great endeavors, to join God in what He is doing, to ask Him to be what we already know He is, and manifest that to us so we can see it and participate even more. We need to be careful to focus on praying what we know is His will. The verses from James quoted above start out by giving us the principle that prayer always works. He says, “You do not have because you do not ask [God].” Then he goes on to show that for prayer to work we must follow certain guidelines. We cannot pray selfishly and expect God to answer. That is not praying, that is manipulating.

Ingredient #2 Praying with complete confidence and commitment (aka—faith).

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James addressed this principle as well. He wrote, “Now if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, the one who gives generously to all without chiding or shaming, and it will be given to him”(James 1:5-7). We must be willing to stick our necks out for what we believe God is doing. He wants to see if we are invested in the cause, if we are willing to live hazardously for Him. But, if God is in it, what seems like a huge risk, is really no risk at all. He will bring it to pass, but we must be willing to lose those creature comforts we are so fond of.

Ingredient #3 Praying until the answer comes.

The Ludys explain it this way:

“This is the point where most people who start out with God-prayers and God-confidence end up with the illusion of unanswered prayer. Persistence is the heart of prayer.

To be fair, God has been known to answer prayers that were nothing more than raw cries of faith from an anguished soul. God is not bound to answer such prayers. But God is bound to answer the prayers of those saints who seek Him as He has asked to be sought.

He answers every single prayer when it is prayed as He has prescribed. God says, ‘Pray to Me this way—because I really want you to be successful.’ Our God is not looking for a reason to not answer our prayers. He is eager to help us, but He wants us to do it His way, and not ours.

As we learn to pray in accordance with the Spirit of God we can be confident the answer will not be ‘no.’ There is no such thing as unanswered prayer. There are misguided prayers, selfish prayers, and doubting prayers, but true prayer doesn’t go unanswered—it is merely abandoned prematurely due to a lack of persistence and faithful endurance.”

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The Meaning of the Hebrew and Greek Words for Pray

The primary word for “pray” in Hebrew means “to intervene, interpose, mediate or judge.” It seems to center around the idea of getting between two entities. God’s true followers use prayer to get between sinners and God in an attempt to draw the former to the latter. Notice that this is not about us, it is entirely about God and about others. Asking for what I want for myself does not fit the Hebrew word for prayer.

The concept of “crying out” to God is often expressed in the Old Testament. It is usually translated as it should be with the English words “cry out.” These pleas for help are not true prayer, but God often chose to answer them anyway. 

 The Greek word translated “pray” is made from two words; one is the preposition “toward;” the other is the verb “exchange.” Hence “prayer” means to “exchange toward.” That still does not help us very much until we unpack it even further. The concept is one of us drawing closer to God so that we can exchange our human desires for His divine will. In that exchange we lose everything that wants to focus on our wants and even our needs. We come away with an all-encompassing desire to see God’s will realized and His name glorified. That is true prayer!

The next lesson is What Is True Prayer and What Is Not?



Eric & Leslie Ludy, Wrestling Prayer,  pp. 173-174.

2: John 5:20

For the Father loves the Son, and shows him all things that he is doing; and He will show him greater works than these so that you may marvel.


Eric & Leslie Ludy, Wrestling Prayer, p. 174.


Eric & Leslie Ludy, Wrestling Prayer, pp. 175, 177-178.