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So, please clarify something for me. I'm trying to get a better understanding of presenting my requests to God, but also recognizing that it is not my will, but His will be done. Here are three verses that I am trying to connect (I have italicized the most key parts):

Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done. (Luke 22:42 NIV)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Philippians 4:6)

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8 NIV)

So, whenever I pray, I will present my requests to God, and then I will finish it off with: "yet not my will, but Your will be done always and only." But the Scripture says to "ask and it will be given to you." But, are there times when it won't be given to me, because if God doesen't want something to work out, it won't be given to me. It all around just confuses me, and I have ignored it for a long time. But, I was thinking about all of this earlier today and decided to finally get some clarification.

Please don't criticize my faith. That is definitely not why I came to this forum. I am a devout Christian and care about what God wants above anything else. I just need some clarification so I can advance with my prayers. =)

  • NOTE: I did not find the answer in this link: christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/23031/…. Please do not say that this is a duplicate question. I would prefer a new-and-improved answer. God bless! =) – user50255 Jul 9 at 0:30
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    Hello and welcome to the site! This is really something you should talk over with your pastor/priest/minister/spiritual advisor. Random opinions from anonymous people on the internet probably won't help. – curiousdannii Jul 9 at 0:46
  • @curiousdannii I am 16-years-old and don't have one. Besides, isn't this "clarity of scripture" in the first place? – user50255 Jul 9 at 0:47
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    Well can you find one? Have you been part of a church before? Are there churches near you that you could join? Or in these COVID times, it's much easier to try out churches via video... – curiousdannii Jul 9 at 0:48
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    This question is not really something we're equipped to handle here. Have a read of What types of questions can I ask on this site? Our sister site Biblical Hermeneutics is set up to handle questions about the interpretation of specific Bible passages, but there isn't really anywhere here that will give you advice for how to pray. That is just too important an issue to rely on anonymous internet people! – curiousdannii Jul 9 at 0:50
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God will give you what you ask for if it is already in his will for you to receive it.

"I will give you what you want, if it is what I want for you."

In our fallen state, we can rankle at this, but we shouldn't. God always wants what is best for us. He is not our competitor; he gives us all we have, and he loves us more than we love ourselves.

A large part of prayer is that it changes ourselves. But it would be wrong to take that too far and conclude that prayer does not change the world. "The effectual fervent prayer of the righteous man availeth much."

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There are three occasions in scripture when I can think of someone not receiving an 'answer' to prayer. But on all three occasions, they did receive a response from God the Father.

The person asked, but did not receive what they asked for. But they received a response.

Firstly, the one you mention : Jesus prayed that the cup should pass from him yet only if it was within the Father's will. The response was :

And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. [Luke 22:43 KJV]

Jesus did not receive an 'answer' as such, but he did receive a response.

The second occasion is when Paul prayed three times :

And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. [2 Corinthians 12: 7-9 KJV]

Paul did not receive an 'answer', as such, but he did receive a response.

And, lastly, there were certain people who prayed yet their prayer was 'amiss' and it was not answered. But they did receive a response, and it was James who was sent to respond to them :

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

They did not receive an 'answer' to their prayer but they did receive a response.


So, today, you have sought an answer and what I am saying to you may not be what you expected, it may not be what you wanted.

But it is a response. You are not being neglected.

I, too, began to follow Jesus Christ at the age of sixteen, as do you. I am now sixty eight years old and I have been helped every single step of the way, without fail.

I wish you well on your journey.

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  • Thanks for your response! I have been a Christian (and actually aware of it) since I was a five-year-old. However, for the past year or so, God has just sparked something new within me, and I feel called to be a messenger more than ever. I want to keep my bond with God as strong as possible, and your words have helped get a better understanding and clarification of my post. Thank you again, and grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (Philemon 3). – user50255 Jul 9 at 1:37
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    Thank you @AsaMatthews. I, too, had experiences in infancy at the age of about six. I don't know that I would call it conversion, at that stage. But they were highly significant in my spiritual development and they are profound memories in my consciousness. – Nigel J Jul 9 at 8:20
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Good question. I think you are in great company, because David, for example, said, "Why, O Lord, do you stand so far away?" in Psalm 10:1.

I think it provides a level of perspective when we understand that it doesn't say, "Ask and it will be given to you immediately". Hebrews 11:13 teaches us that some people died while still enduring, yet Hebrews 6:12 helps us understand what we are called to do, which is endure, and that, in the end, the inheritance will be sure.

Jesus' teachings on prayer are focused on 2 parables. One of them is the parable of the persistent widow that has to come back and ask again numerous times. The other is the parable of the obnoxious neighbor. They both got what they were asking for, not because of their relationship with the person, but because of their persistence. With regard to this reality of persistence, I'd recommend examining the tense of the verbs in Matthew 7:7-8.

Also, James highlights Elijah as a man of prayer, and he makes it sound so easy. Elijah prayed and no rain. He prayed again and rain, but I think that's slightly misleading. I'd look at 1 Kings 18:44.

Personally I learned this through experience. I had prayed and seen miraculous things happen, including healing, and then I had, at times prayed, and not seen things happen. One day I had a serious injury, no insurance, and I couldn't sleep because of the pain, so I decided to take prayer seriously.

Every day, I would just wait on God specifically about my injury for 10-15 minutes. I didn't get healed the first time, but I just kept going. On the 5th day I was healed. Sometimes all it takes is a little perseverance, but sometimes it takes something serious in our own lives to learn to persevere even 5 days. Hannah prayed a long time. Wow.

Please, understand me. 5 days isn't a magic number. God's promises are sure, but we don't control the timing. We entrust ourselves to Him by waiting on Him. He takes action on behalf of those that wait for Him (Isaiah 64:4), but He takes action when He's ready to.

Daniel 9 is a great example of someone waiting on God for something He promised through the prophet Jeremiah. Just because God promised it doesn't mean we shouldn't pray. It means we should press into emotional vulnerability (Psalm 62:8) in response to the promise and entrust ourselves to Him.

It's also worth noting that, on occasion, Jesus Himself had to pray twice before His goal was complete (Mark 8:24). I don't expect more of myself than Jesus, just to be honest, even though Jesus said I have that potential (John 14:12).

We're called to present our requests to God as an act of emotional submission to Him. Even if it doesn't happen right away, being emotionally vulnerable with our Father is what we're called to do. That's what David models for us in the Psalms, and that's how we become emotionally healthy, rather than...backed up.

That's what Jesus was doing when He asked the Father to remove the cup from Him. He doesn't have the right to hide secret desires from the Father and be alone, but He also submitted His heart. Being known and submitted simultaneously can be tricky for those of us that are not so naturally emotionally vulnerable like Jesus was with the Father, but it's really the name of the game, and that's what the Psalms model for us.

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  • Thank you so much for your answer. I have been praying about something for almost four months now, and I have just put my faith in the Lord and have waited for him. Really, I just wanted some clarification, and you helped tremendously. Thank you for the Biblical citations, too! I have bookmarked them to my browser. Much love and God bless you and your family! =) – user50255 Jul 9 at 1:24
  • I'm so glad this helped you!. I am encouraged to hear that you are persevering so much in trusting God. Peace to you and your family as well! – swarbrick85 Jul 9 at 1:28
  • Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (Philemon 3). – user50255 Jul 9 at 1:30
  • A very important prayer in scripture that has not yet been answered is found in Revelation 22:20. It's important to keep in mind that many of the prayers that were answered in scripture were answered after a long period of waiting, for an extreme example, in Genesis 15:13 and Exodus 3:7, we see God answering a prayer after over 400 years of waiting. I have seen God heal people in response to prayer instantly, but sometimes it doesn't happen. We are called to, as it says in Luke 18:1, always pray and not give up. – swarbrick85 Jul 9 at 2:29
  • Thank you for more words! How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” (Isaiah 52:7). – user50255 Jul 9 at 3:22
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The second passage you quote is repeated in Luke 11:1-11, with some additional detail.

Firstly, Jesus teaches us the Lord's Prayer. It focuses on a) God's will being done, b) God providing our basic physical needs, c) God providing our spiritual needs.

Jesus then tells a parable similar to the persistent widow, about a friend who received everything he needed because of his "audacity".

Finally, Jesus concludes with this:

Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him! Luke 11:11-13 (NIV)

Notice that Jesus appears to be comparing the child's request for food, with the Father granting the Holy Spirit.

Paul also mentions the Spirit and prayer together in Romans 8. Please go read the whole chapter, because quoted this section out of context does Paul's argument a great disservice.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. 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 image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters Romans 8:26-29 (NIV), italics mine

Paul seems to highlight three things here:

  1. The Spirit motivates prayer in the Christian
  2. The Spirit helps the Christian pray in line with God's will
  3. God's will is for Christians to grow more like Jesus

It seems therefore that Christians would generally, by the power of the Holy Spirit, pray "your will be done" in that they and others would become more like Jesus. In turn, God will abundantly answer this prayer, primarily by the continued work of the Holy Spirit.

If you read through the great prayers of the New Testament, especially Paul's prayers in his letters, the spiritual growth of Christians seems to be the main focus of many of them prayer. Although, of course, it isn't wrong to pray for other things (James 5).

In addition, Paul explains in Romans 8:18-25, just before the passage I quoted, that both creation and the Christian eagerly await Jesus' return, when "creation itself will be liberated" and Christians will see "our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies" - that is, all our prayers will truly be answered. But for now, "if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently."

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