#1 No – Your request is not in Gods will.
After Nathan had gone home, the Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife had borne to David, and he became illDavid pleaded with God for the child. He fasted and went into his house and spent the nights lying on the groundHe answered, While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child liveBut now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me." (I Sam.2:15,16,22,23)
#2 Slow – Your request is not in Gods will at this time.
So the sisters sent word to Jesus, Lord, the one you love is sick.Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more daysSo then he told them plainly, Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four daysWhen he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, Lazarus, come out! The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, Take off the grave clothes and let him go." (Jn 11:3, 6, 14, 15, 17, 43, 44)
#3 Grow – Your motives are wrong.
When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. (Jms. 4:3)
#4 Go – Your request, timing, and spiritual condition are okayYes!
Elijahprayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. (Jms. 5:17b-19)
And from Romans 8:26-29 we know four truths about prayer:
#1 The Holy Spirit helps us to know what and how to pray (verse 26)
#2 The Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf (verse 26)
#3 God hears our hearts more than the words in prayer (verse 27)
#4 Prayer is always answered (verses 28-29), though not always according to our agenda.
The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
+Adapted from Leading Life Changing Small Groups by Bill Donahue, Zondervan Press, pages 57, 58