Does God really answer prayers?


#1

Does God really hear/answer our prayers? Atheists like to pose this question to Christians and other religious people to try to stump them. If God really answers prayers, then why didn’t He answer the prayer of the mother who lost her child to cancer? Why doesn’t He stop child molestation or world hunger? People are obviously praying for those things, yet nothing seems to change. It’s not only atheists who ask this question, agnostics also ask it when searching for a faith (if they are - not all agnostics believe the truth can be known). Even doubting Christians will ask this question. Perhaps they prayed very hard for something very important to them and didn’t get the answer they wanted so bad, and maybe this causes them to doubt.

If God is really all-powerful, all-loving, and good, wouldn’t He want to answer our prayers and give us what we need?

It is a very important question. And it deserves an answer. Does God really answer our prayers? I plan to write an essay with that title: “Does God Really Answer Prayers?” And I was wondering if any of you could provide information or insight that would be good to put in my essay. I will not claim all the credit for myself, I will make sure the readers know that I had help getting the essay together.

The topics I plan to discuss include:

  1. What is the purpose(s) of prayer?
  2. Why don’t our prayers seem to get answered?
  3. Why does God seem silent on some very important issues?

I already have a bit of information I’d like to add, but I wanted to ask for help because the people on this forum have proven to have good insights often and are very intelligent.

This is not an essay for school, it is just going to be an essay that I will share on a social media app.


#2

God always answers our prayers!
Sometimes the answer is more of a “no” than a “yes”.

  1. The purpose of prayer.
    Let’s look to the prayer Christians look to as the model for prayer, the Our Father, said by God Himself.
    "Our Father, who art in Heaven, Hallowed be thy Name, thy Kingdom come, thy Will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven; give us this day, our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil."
    Notice anything about what is being asked? It is not anything crazy, but this day. Daily bread.
    Prayer is a way to solidify and establish the relationship between God and the one praying. God is the Source of all Good. All regularity comes from Him. Did Jesus doubt that He would have that day and that He would come by bread just like every other day? Most likely not. Prayer is not like a gumball machine. It is a source of grace and establishing the relationship between one and God. He is the giver, we the receiver; and He gives enough.
    Now, why would God say “no” to some prayers?
    I’ll add a third option: "wait a while."
    The saints say that God answers all prayers that are good for our spiritual live/our salvation. Sometimes, suffering is better than not suffering. It is to put it with Christ’s suffering. It strengthens a soul.
    And sometimes, we are just impatient. Say an atheist asks God to show Himself in like 2 days. God is not 6 our lapdog or genie. He may answer that prayer, not in two days, but 70 years later, in a way the atheist couldn’t imagine for His own purposes. Of course, if He sees fit, then He may answer the prayer within 2 days.
    Times of doubt and suffering and trials are times of growth. We should rejoice in them, and remember that one “Blessed is God” in times of struggle might just be better than a hundred “praise be to God” in times of abundance.

#3

Yes.

Atheists like to pose this question to Christians and other religious people to try to stump them.

I was one of them, so I know.

If God really answers prayers, then why didn’t He answer the prayer of the mother who lost her child to cancer? Why doesn’t He stop child molestation or world hunger? People are obviously praying for those things, yet nothing seems to change. It’s not only atheists who ask this question, agnostics also ask it when searching for a faith (if they are - not all agnostics believe the truth can be known). Even doubting Christians will ask this question. Perhaps they prayed very hard for something very important to them and didn’t get the answer they wanted so bad, and maybe this causes them to doubt.

Sadly, this is true.

If God is really all-powerful, all-loving, and good, wouldn’t He want to answer our prayers

All our prayers? No.

and give us what we need?

He always gives us what we need to save our souls. Not necessarily what we need to make our lives easier.

It is a very important question. And it deserves an answer. Does God really answer our prayers? I plan to write an essay with that title: “Does God Really Answer Prayers?” And I was wondering if any of you could provide information or insight that would be good to put in my essay. I will not claim all the credit for myself, I will make sure the readers know that I had help getting the essay together.

I don’t want or need any credit.

The topics I plan to discuss include:

  1. What is the purpose(s) of prayer?

There are many reasons for prayer.
a. To communicate with God.
b. To unite us to God.
c. To worship God.
d. To ask for the intercession of the Saints.
e. To request God’s blessings.

  1. Why don’t our prayers seem to get answered?

There are also many reasons for this.
a. We don’t ask rightly.
We ask for things selfishly. Scripture says that God won’t give us a viper when we ask for bread.
James 4:2-3 You ask and don’t receive because you ask with wrong motives,…

b. We are double minded.
We ask for one thing one moment and then say, “Oh, He’ll never answer my prayer!” Or, we change our mind right away.

c. We really have no faith.
People live in the world and rely on their money or their talent to get what they want. They never even think of God. Then, they run into trouble and get on their knees and expect God to do whatever they ask. But they are strangers to God. It’s like you have a friend that you haven’t seen in 10 years and the when you meet them again, they ask you for money and don’t even say hello.

  1. Why does God seem silent on some very important issues?

Those without faith do not believe that God is always there and is not silent. But is with us every step of the way.

I already have a bit of information I’d like to add, but I wanted to ask for help because the people on this forum have proven to have good insights often and are very intelligent.

This is not an essay for school, it is just going to be an essay that I will share on a social media app.
[/quote]

I hope that helps.


#4

Very difficult task ahead of you. But, as they say, if it were easy, everyone would do it. A few things to consider.

One cookie-cutter, but very dumb answer is: “God is not a vending machine, so don’t expect a prayer to be answered in a positive fashion”. Counter argument - the Bible itself says: “Ask and you will be answered” and “Knock and the door will be opened”… both of them are supposed to come directly from the horse’s mouth - and yet, they don’t happen.

Another nonsense: “God does not answer, because a positive answer would take away out free will to believe that God exists”. Counter argument: “Knowing that God exists, AND that he is benevolent would increase our love for him”.

Many people do not even ask for something special, like healing a sick loved one, but only a “sign” that God actually exists, so they can embark on a journey to “accept” and love him. The supposed prayer for the atheists: “Please help me to conquer my unbelief”. Nothing can be less “imposing” upon God - and yet, nothing happens.

A really idiotic answer: “For those who have faith, no evidence is necessary; for those who don’t have faith, no evidence is sufficient”. What a joke - at least the second part. For those who already have “faith”, there is no need for any evidence. But the second half is not just insulting, but extremely stupid. There is no stubborn unbeliever who would be able to resist a good, strong “hit” on the head (allegorically speaking) - like the one Paul received on the road to Damascus.

Sometimes, some people assert that they asked, and received a positive answer - say, once in a few billions prayers. Of course, that would raise the question: “why not the other ones”? Is their prayer less worthy of being answered affirmatively?

Better drop the whole project. God does not answer the prayers, because

  1. God does not care, or
  2. there is no God.

And as soon as you get it, you can start to lead a productive life, getting rid of superstition. :slight_smile:


#5

I agree with you that the common answers you provided are not good. Or, at least, not sufficient.

But I also disagree with your conclusion, and I’ll be happy to share my essay with you when I’m done with it, if you’d like. :wink: You make some pretty bold claims. It’s almost as if you believe you have enough information to make such definitive claims. Quite a common mistake among atheists and anti-theists, really. It’s kind of like that one quote by Epicurus that atheists like to quote. Seems like a good quote on the surface, but either makes too many faulty assumptions or simply does not take into account all the possibilities and therefore comes to a fallacious conclusion, and does so with pride that he has just successfully disproved God using logic. But, that idea in itself causes a lot of problems for the individual.

Anyhow, the whole “religious people don’t lead productive lives” is both irrelevant to the topic and unnecessary, not to mention that whether or not a person is religious has nothing to do with whether or not they are productive. We Christians are taught not to just to sit on our butts and pray for God to solve all of our problems without lifting a finger to do something about it ourselves. Indeed, we are told to give alms to the poor, to provide for and protect our families, that we will reap what we sow, to get up and work.

If a Christian is lazy, I promise you it has naught to do with their Christianity, but perhaps everything or at least much to do with American culture, freedom, and prosperity.

A lazy man will be a lazy man. If religion isn’t his excuse, he’ll find another excuse.


#6

Prayers are answered a whole lot more than you think.
Prayers beneficial for ones soul shall be answered. Perhaps not immediately. Perhaps it might even take a lifetime. For reasons we might not understand.

And yes, some prayers are stronger than others. That’s kinda the whole point of asking saints to pray for us.
But mainly, it’s the idea that we don’t pray to get stuff, but to do God’s Will. We pray for many reasons, not just to get stuff.
Usually, when I pray, I’m not petitioning for a certain thing other than what the prayer says.

One must also keep in mind the prayers and intentions matter, as well as the righteousness of the one praying.

One who prays a novena and walks on hard rocks foe 5 miles, praying and fasting, while abstaining from all manner of unrighteousness, the prayer of this one who has much more faith than the one who sneers at God, and says, “Give me a sign”, and then chuckles as he thinks of how foolish it is to cry out into the void.

Sometimes God answers prayers better than we want, sometimes it takes longer than we want, sometimes He says no.
But it takes faith. One attains this faith by much prayer and fasting. I don’t know how one familiar with the saints could deny that God answers prayers.
St Gregory the Wonder Worker was given from Heaven information on the Trinity and he could do all sorts of wonders like move giant rocks through prayer, and St Padre Pio could know the information of a repentant confessor without him saying anything, and oh so so many other miracles.

Speaking from experience, I can say that indeed those prayers beneficial to your soul, not necessarily your flesh, are granted.


#7

It is good to have even a partial agreement. :slight_smile:

I will be glad to see it. I will even be ecstatic if I see something new, something I have not seen before.

I don’t know which claims are you talking about. No one ever has ALL the information about the acts (or lack of acts) of someone else. That does not prevent us from making value judgments about others. All is needed is the intellectual honesty to be prepared to admit that one is wrong, if and when new information becomes available. But we never demand full information or 100% certainty. It is sufficient if the available information allows us to reach the “verdict” beyond any reasonable doubt. This is the highest level of certainty we need even in capital cases.

I think you speak of the “Euthyphro” dilemma. There never was a rebuttal for it. And people tried to find one for thousands of years. If you have something new, let’s hear it. :slight_smile:

Let’s get back to the question of prayers. There are two kinds of prayers, “meditative” ones and “supplicatory” types. Meditative prayers are not problematic. But the supplicatory types are nonsensical. God is supposed to be both omniscient and immutable. If the supplicant asks for something that God would perform anyhow, it is just a waste of time. If the supplicant asks for something that God would not grant - since God is immutable, then what was the point?

There is nothing special about it. Non-Christians can and do behave just like you do.


#8

Please do your own honework


#10

Actually, they do. But you think you can interpret the Bible under your authority. Whereas, the New Testament was written by the Catholic Church in the context of the Teachings of Jesus Christ.

So, let’s look at that verse.

First He says,

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

You assume that He’s speaking of worldly goods because you’re in the world. But, there’s a saying, Scripture interprets Scripture. And He is speaking of the Holy Spirit. But let’s continue.

8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

And here, the same idea repeated. You are still stuck in the world. But Jesus is speaking of the Holy Spirit.

9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?

10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?

Same idea, again. So, let’s cut to the chase.

11 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?

Confused? Don’t be. You need to read Scripture in order to know that there is another verse which explains this one.

Luke 11:13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

Now, you see, Jesus was not speaking about material things. He was referring to the grace of the Holy Spirit.

cont’d


#11

cont’d

Another nonsense: “God does not answer, because a positive answer would take away out free will to believe that God exists”. Counter argument: “Knowing that God exists, AND that he is benevolent would increase our love for him”.

Since you are the one saying this, it is your nonsense. You’ll have to explain it before anyone can make sense of it.

Many people do not even ask for something special, like healing a sick loved one, but only a “sign” that God actually exists, so they can embark on a journey to “accept” and love him. The supposed prayer for the atheists: “Please help me to conquer my unbelief”. Nothing can be less “imposing” upon God - and yet, nothing happens.

Since I was an atheist. And I did pray that prayer as an atheist. And now I’m a fervent believer, then there must be some other factor at work.

A really idiotic answer: “For those who have faith, no evidence is necessary; for those who don’t have faith, no evidence is sufficient”. What a joke - at least the second part. For those who already have “faith”, there is no need for any evidence. But the second half is not just insulting, but extremely stupid. There is no stubborn unbeliever who would be able to resist a good, strong “hit” on the head (allegorically speaking) - like the one Paul received on the road to Damascus.

And yet, they do. I know because God didn’t try to get my attention just once. He did it several times and chalked it off to hallucination.

Sometimes, some people assert that they asked, and received a positive answer - say, once in a few billions prayers. Of course, that would raise the question: “why not the other ones”? Is their prayer less worthy of being answered affirmatively?

There are many reasons for, why not the other ones. See my first response to Brittany.

Better drop the whole project. God does not answer the prayers, because

  1. God does not care, or
  2. there is no God.

Or, because you don’t mean your prayers, don’t believe your prayers will be answered, ask for things that you will simply use to commit sin and many other reasons.

And as soon as you get it, you can start to lead a productive life, getting rid of superstition. :slight_smile:
[/quote]

Atheism is a waste of time. All it is is the art of denying the truth. Atheism makes is built on nothing, literally. Just the idea that if you don’t believe it, it must not be true.


#12

Atheists don’t believe in God, so it doesn’t much matter what they say on the issue. The fact that an atheist concerns him/herself with the existence or attrributes of God proves the point that all people are seeking for objective truth.

Why doesn’t He stop child molestation or world hunger?]

Why didn’t the parent stop the child from leaving the house? In fact, why did the parent conceive a child at all. Didn’t the parent know that after all is said and done the child will be subject to the cruelest thing of all, death. Didn’t the parent know all that? The stark answer to your question is that it would better not to be born at all, or it would be better for the parent to lock the child in a room where he will never get hurt.
The answer to this question is always: love. Love only exists in freedom. Without free will there is no love.
And if you are going to hold God accountable for suffering, then you must also hold him accountable for good. Does that make sense? If you only credit God with things you don’t like, that is not really reasoning, it’s whining. (not saying you are doing that, but many do)

If God is really all-powerful, all-loving, and good, wouldn’t He want to answer our prayers and give us what we need?

If God were subject to our petitions then God wouldn’t be God, he would be a cosmic gumball machine. God having the ability to hear prayers does not make God subject to us.

The topics I plan to discuss include:

  1. What is the purpose(s) of prayer?
  2. Why don’t our prayers seem to get answered?
  3. Why does God seem silent on some very important issues?

The purpose of prayer is to commune with God. That is the ultimate good, to have loving communion with God. Prayer is not a matter of exerting power or extracting goods from God according to our will, it’s a matter of simply being conscious of God’s presence, entering into dialogue with God, and yes asking for our needs according to his will. (or as we develop in sanctity, we may tend to focus on the needs of others before our own needs and will…)


#13

God gives one of 3 answers to every question asked of Him.

  1. YES
  2. NOT RIGHT NOW
  3. I HAVE A BETTER PLAN

He did answer her prayer. When she gets to her final reward she will know and understand the answer.

Sure God could snap His fingers and end these things, but what would we learn? Maybe His plan is for us to do something about it. So what have you done today to stop child molestation or world hunger? That would be my question to them.

He does, you are assuming you know what is best for you. Does a 2 year old know what is best for them? Can you honestly say you can’t think of a single thing you wished for, had you got it your life would be totally different? Maybe you wouldn’t be married to your wife. Your kids would be gone. You might not have taken that vacation that you think of fondly…

YES!

Hope this helps,

God Bless


#14

This is not a homework assignment, it is not for school. I am doing it on my own. :slight_smile:


#15

Names, dates, events, please?

I am not interpreting, only quoting. It is you who try to second-guess the words of Jesus. If Jesus is God, he could foresee the possible misunderstanding and could have used non-ambiguous words… Wait… he did.

I was quoting. Don’t shoot the messenger.

Correlation is not causation.

As always, the fault is with the skeptic. :slight_smile: You have no idea what those prayers were all about. So your criticism is way above your pay-grade.

Not exactly. If there is no evidence, it is rational to doubt.


#16

Totally agree, that is a very dumb answer.

I know you stated later…

I am not interpreting, only quoting. It is you who try to second-guess the words of Jesus. If Jesus is God, he could foresee the possible misunderstanding and could have used non-ambiguous words… Wait… he did.

I’m not here to argue with you or try to get you to change your mind. I just wanted to point out what you just said so far. So far it seems you complained that God didn’t give you what you wanted. You’ve complained that He said he would in the Bible. And you’ve complained that He should have done a better job and you shouldn’t have to read any further to have to understand what Jesus is saying here.

Would that be fair to you if someone put those same stipulations on you?

As Catholics we don’t pull one verse out of the Bible and say see. In order to understand what Jesus means here we need to look further in the Bible.

James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all men generously and without reproaching, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7, 8 For that person must not suppose that a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways, will receive anything from the Lord.

Basically, yes God will respond to all our prayers, IF we ask in faith. The kicker is that part of that Faith is the answer might not be yes.

Totally, agree, utter nonsense.

I don’t really agree with this statement either. Just look at human nature. For instance the teenager that is given absolutely everything from his parents, never has to lift a finger and never held accountable for anything. Do we see that child loving his parents more than the child that has to work with the family just for the family to survive?

My only response would be, what sign would you be willing to accept?

cont…


#17

…cont

Yep I don’t think this is very charitable to the one without faith. However, it would bring me back to my last question…What evidence would you be willing to accept?

I can’t give you a definitive answer to this, because I’m not God. However, we consider God our Father so in that aspect I can relate, being a father of 5 myself. Once we add the wife in, it becomes 6 against one. Well they all know that I can answer any question they have and they all know I can accomplish any project they need help with. Well it’s 6 against one and dad can get pretty exhausted. It gets tiring having 6 people run to you for the stupidest little request, that they could easily figure out on their own or with a little elbow grease. It also gets very exciting when I see one of them trying to do it on their own, even when they fail. This is why I believe God doesn’t answer every request with a resounding YES. He gets excited when we figure it out on our own, or better yet, when we help each other. What father doesn’t feel more loved than when his children are helping each other out, especially when you didn’t have to, how did you put it…give them a strong “hit” on the head.

I hope this helps.

God Bless

PS. My faith in God actually increases my productivity. He’s helped me accomplish more in these 47 years than most do in a lifetime.


#18

The trouble is the contradicting verses. And I still say that an omniscient God could have made the message crystal clear, without and possibility to misunderstanding, intentional or otherwise.

If that would be true, it would make the so-called “atheist prayer” sheer nonsense. You know: “Please help my unbelief”. It cannot be said with faith, because it asks for faith. Of course God never answers the prayers in words.

Why start with spoiled teenagers? Start with newborn of “tabula rasa”. If a new child is raised in a loving, caring, consistent environment, she will respond to love with love. I am not talking about pampering, or protecting even from a chilly wind. But it is true that “what goes around, comes around”.

There many such possible “signs”. And I am NOT talking about outrageous demands, like performing miracles (even though they would help a lot). A conversation would be nice to explain the Holocaust, for example. Generally, the “problem of evil”. Because that is the strongest argument against a benevolent, loving God. The answer needs to be personalized. What is good for the goose is not always good for the gander.

That is anthropomorphizing God. God cannot have emotions. What about those requests when we are unable to solve a problem, and need help? For example, when people trapped in a mine, slowly dying, and all of our concentrated efforts are insufficient. Just one example, from the top off my head.


#19

Since you say it can be done, how would God make the message crystal with no possibility of having someone “intentionally” misunderstanding it?

I don’t think it is nonsense. I see it as the beginning of a faith journey. I don’t mean to be unkind but you make these vague statements, like this. However, your objection seems to be God doesn’t answer prayers right now. Your statement seems to be “Please help my unbelief, RIGHT NOW!!!”

I have no clue where you are going with this statement? When you said “knowing God exists would increase our love for Him.” I assumed you meant knowing He exists and is willing to say yes to anything we ask. That’s why I gave the example of the teenager. Did you mean knowing God exists, even if He often says NO, would increase our love for Him?

Not sure how this relates to my example. But I guess this would depend on how one defines “a loving, caring, consistent environment”.

Yep, agree the problem of evil is terrible. But I’m not sure how it is an argument against God. The fact that the evil of the Holocaust was overcome by people who follow the Moral Law seems to point to God. How can we have a Moral Law without having a moral law-giver? Without God I see no reason for humans to be moral.

You know I almost went back and deleted that statement. I just knew it was the one thing you were going to jump on. Sure I agree God cannot have emotions, but if you believe this then you must also believe we humans don’t have the ability to understand the mind of God and therefor have to use emotional words to try and put it in human terms. So aside from the emotional word do you believe it is better for 2 children to help each other get what they want or do you believe it is better for the father to give each of them what they want just because they asked?

All I can say is we can’t have everything we want. Human life is precious and when tragedy happens it is terrible. My only thoughts on this are what if it was the other way around. What if when this happens we knew all we had to do was pray and God would intercede. If we were guaranteed that God would save us anytime we ask, would we still see our life as a precious gift or would we take it for granted?

Thanks for the conversation.

God Bless


#20

Yes, and in many ways. but if God answers prayers, there is the feeling you have to do something in return. And always be thankful in times of distress.

A few years ago, I had tests done for cancer, about a month later the doctor phoned and said he urgently wanted to see me, it was non – Hodgkin Lymphoma, this was a name I recognised, our friend had this cancer, and died a few months later. I prayed for the wisdom, strength, peace and serenity to do God’s will, whether the cancer was a death sentence, or just an inconvenience. I can only say that from the moment of making this prayer, I have experienced a profound sense of peace, and the thought of cancer has never troubled me for a moment.

Cancer could be a truly worrying process, you wait a month or two for tests, you wait for the results, and you wait for more tests, but the prayer to do God’s will sort of handed the problem to God, and I have never had to worry. I have never once prayed for healing, at the age of 62, the prayer for healing seemed too complicated, it might or might not be my time to go. Recognising this profound sense of peace comes from God, gives me reason to be thankful.

I could not imagine this sense of peace without a faith and trust in God. I can say, from the moment of hearing about my cancer and making that prayer, I could talk about cancer in the same way as I talk about what’s for dinner?


#21

Starting with the Bible. That has many accounts in one volume. And continue with the lives of all the canonized Saints throughout the centuries.

Yes, you are.

only quoting.

And adding your interpretation to the quote.

It is you who try to second-guess the words of Jesus. If Jesus is God, he could foresee the possible misunderstanding and could have used non-ambiguous words… Wait… he did.

The reason you say this is because you don’t understand God or His Scriptures.

A. I showed you how to understand that Scripture. But you left that out of your response. Indicating that you’re not interested in understanding God’s Word.

B. Jesus spoke in parables (i.e. parables) in order rhat people like you be forced to come to the Church for explanation when you care to know the truth.

The Church is the messenger. You’re just someone who disputes the message.

It is, more often than not.

Basically. What would you do, if someone who ignores you day in and day out, and basically doesn’t care for you, were to talk to you only when he wants money?

You have no idea what those prayers were all about. So your criticism is way above your pay-grade.

I don’t know what you mean by “pay-grade”. But, you’re criticizing something that you know nothing about. In order to understand the Word of God, you need to study to show yourself approved.

As I said, you reject all the evidence and then claim that your rejection of the evidence is worthyof consideration. The evidence is there. Claiming that there is none is merely whistling in the wind.


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