There has been a wide debate about whether God answers prayer or is indifferent to us. Some say that God always answers prayer as long as we believe He will. This is taught by those who teach the prosperity gospel. Some say there are too many people for God to listen to each individual prayer. This is believed by those who don’t want to follow after God’s truth found in the Bible. We are going to take a look at the three answers that God gives to prayer, and the scriptures that back them up. We will also look at why it is important to understand why God gives these types of answers.

Keep in mind that all these answers depend on qualifiers that need to met. The first answer is: yes, God does answer prayer. We will talk about the qualifiers after I show that God answers some prayers with a yes answer.

Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.
John 16:24, KJV

And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
John 14:13, KJV

And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.
John 16:23, KJV

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
Mt 7:7, KJV

And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
Lu 11:9, KJV

Clearly the scriptures are showing that God is a God who answers prayer. In fact, he longs to answer our prayers; He delights in giving good gifts to his children.

If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?
Mt 7:11, KJV

So we see here that God does at times answer prayer with a yes, but what about the qualifiers to the “yes” answer?

And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.
Mt 21:22, KJV

Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.
John 15:16, KJV

If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
John 14:14, KJV

You have to do more than just ask; you must honestly believe that God will answer your prayer. It isn’t mentioned as often as the verses that say that you will receive, but you must take the whole bible in account when it comes to prayer. So, to get an answer requires that you absolutely believe you will get an answer. That doesn’t mean that you will get a “yes” though.

We are also told to ask in Jesus’ name – that’s very important. Jesus died for us that we might have life, so we need to go to him and in his name ask for the things we need.

There is also a qualifier that gives you a “no” answer.

Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
James 4:3, KJV

Whenever you ask for something that will allow you to look down on your Christian brothers, or worse yet on unbelievers, or when you ask for something you can boast in, or use it for you own glory, then God says, “NO!”

So believing isn’t enough, for we must still ask with the right motives in mind, and sometimes, God commands us to wait:

And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. 5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
Acts 1:4-5

Here God made the disciples wait for the promise of the father that he would send the comforter to be with them for all times. This was the promise of the Holy Spirit. If you study it, they waited ten days to get that promise. He didn’t make them wait because he wanted to toy with them, but so that they would be ready to receive what God had in store for them. Sometimes, God makes us wait so that he can purify us to be ready for what God has prepared for us to receive.

So we see that God doesn’t always answer as we expect, but he answers according to his will. However, he still always provides an answer. Whether it is yes, no, or wait, there is always an answer. God promised to provide all our needs as promised in the bible, but nowhere does he promise to meet our wants.

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Php 4:19