Can God Answer Prayer
God cares about your daily necessities of life... food, clothing, shelter. He promises to provide these and add many other blessings, if you will pray and ask Him “as you also” follow Him with your life. To obtain God’s help in meeting your financial and material needs, here are five principles to apply:
(1) Seek Him First – Jesus gave a very simple explanation of how to obtain God’s help in meeting your needs. From His sermon on the mount, He said, “Therefore do not worry, saying, What shall we eat? or What shall we drink? or What shall we wear? For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:31-33).
When followers of Christ have needs, they don’t have to share the same sense of worry or despair as the unbelieving world. Jesus explained that those who put their faith in God, and who will look to Him and His values as their highest priorities, the Lord will make sure that their needs are “added” to their life.
To “seek first His kingdom and righteousness,” means to make it our highest goal to pursue a relationship with God... to seek after His spiritual values, to reach toward a lifestyle of obedience and faithfulness to those things that please Him. This kind of person makes Jesus the Lord (boss) of their life, with the objective of honoring Him in everything they do or say. And if they make mistakes, they repent of their sins, get back up and continue walking with the Lord.
Such followers of the Lord will often see added provisions and blessings to their life even before they ask... and when they pray and ask God for His help, He will assuredly respond and bless them. As David stated in his psalm, “I have been young, and now am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his descendants begging bread” (Psalms 37:25).
(2) Work diligently – Even though the Lord promises to meet your needs, this doesn’t mean that He exempts us from toil or labor. The Lord expects all able-bodied persons to work (2 Thessalonians 3:10), and expects us to perform our tasks with diligence and excellence “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might...” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).
The Lord blesses strong work ethics, and will bless the fruit of our labors so we can provide for our family. “How joyful are those who fear the Lord — all who follow his ways! You will enjoy the fruit of your labor. How joyful and prosperous you will be!” (Psalms 128:1-2 NLT).
But how can God’s work ethics be honored if you don’t have a job? While you are praying and seeking employment, give yourself to volunteering at the church, or performing acts of kindness, or giving assistance to the needy. When I was out of a job for a time years ago, the Lord put it on my heart to give my available time to Him, as though He was my employer. I went down to the church and did whatever they needed done... dug ditches, cleaned up the grounds, did chores and odd jobs.
I did this, not expecting anything back from the church... but as an expression of my faith in God, for Him to meet my needs. And whad’ya know, at the end of those weeks, I received an unexpected check from our insurance company, a significant refund for premiums I overpaid in the past! PTL! The amount was just enough to pay our bills. Some might call this a just lucky break, but these “divine coincidences” are often the way God works. Over the years, I’ve seen the Lord do similar kinds of things over and over... finding ways to answer my prayers and meet our needs.
The basic message here is, even if you are temporarily without an earthly employer, God still blesses the principle of hard work. Until you find employment, look to Him as your employer... give your time and labor to Him. And even after you have a job, keep looking to Him as the one you are working for, the real source of your provisions and needs.
One of the great truths of scripture is to realize that the Lord, not man, is our provider. As a matter of fact, one of the names used for God in the Old Testament (Jehovah-jireh, in the King James Bible, but more accurately pronounced Yahweh-yir´eh), means the “Lord Who Provides” (Genesis 22:13-14). And if you look to Him as your provider, and honor Him in faith and obedience, He will do exactly that! “Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.” (Psalms 34:10 NLT).
(3) Honor Him with Your Firstfruits – Honoring the Lord with the first-fruits of our increase is another important aspect to putting Christ first in our lives. “Honor the Lord with your possessions, And with the firstfruits of all your increase” (Proverbs 3:9). This is also referred to as the tithe, or the first 10% of our income. God promises to pour out blessing to those who honor Him in this principle “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this,” Says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you suchblessing That there will not be room enough to receive it” (Malachi 3:10).
Giving to the church, the Lord’s work, and to such things as world evangelism is vitally important. But as God prospers us, He also looks for us to use our blessings to help those who are less fortunate, and promises to prosper those who are generous to help the poor. “Whoever gives to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to poverty will be cursed” (Proverbs 28:27 NLT). If fact, the scriptures say that when you help the poor, you lend to the Lord... who will repay you. “If you help the poor, you are lending to the Lord— and he will repay you!” (Proverbs 19:17 NLT).
(4) Be a Good Steward – It is also important to be a good steward of what God gives you. Stewardship basically refers to the efficient management of resources, and since everything you have comes from God, He wants you to use what He gives you wisely. This means that He wants you to be faithful in giving to His work, contributing to the needs of the poor... but also wants you to be prudent with how you use all your resources. He wants you to live frugally within your means (Luke 14:28-29, not to be wasteful, or to get caught up in reckless spending or debt that can end up owning you. “The wicked borrow andnever repay, but the godly are generous givers” (Psalms 37:21 NLT).
This is important to remember. Regardless of how much God blesses a person, it’s always possible to outspend the blessings of God. On many occasions, I’ve seen people come into wealth, perhaps from an inheritance or such, only to watch them quickly squander it away, then have to struggle for survival again. This kind of careless attitude with money will likely guarantee a person’s continued state of poverty, regardless of how much money they earn or receive.
The Lord can meet our needs by a variety of ways... but He often does so by blessing and stretching your basic earnings or adding to what you already have, like the miracle of the fish and loaves (Matthew 14:13-21). If you honor Him and His principles as we’ve described above, He will make sure that your dollar goes farther... and you’ll be surprised by the discounts, deals, bonuses and refunds that come your way. “A faithful man will abound with blessings...” (Proverbs 28:20).
If you make mistakes with the way you handle money, ask His forgiveness and start over with the principles we’ve shared here. Fortunately, God is gracious and redemptive, and always willing to help those who repent of and learn from their mistakes.
(5) Pray in Faith – Whenever a person’s life pleases the Lord, he can be assured that the Lord will hear and answer his prayers to meet his needs. “And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight” (1 John 3:22).
God can meet our needs in any variety of ways. He can provide a job, and bless our labors with increase, or He may send blessing from an entirely unexpected source. This is how He provided for George Muller’s orphanage ministry, generations ago in Bristol, England. Muller was an astonishing man of prayer and faith, who fed and educated multitudes of children, without any other support than prayer. He operated his ministry entirely by faith, standing solely on God’s promises, as described by the Apostle Paul, “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
In one instance, a day came that Muller’s orphanage had run entirely out of food. As mealtime approached, Muller assembled his three-hundred children before empty plates at the dining tables. He led them in prayer, thanking God in faith for the food he believed the Lord would provide. And within moments came a knock at the door from a baker, who had surplus loaves of bread he wanted to donate. And after that, a milkman dropped by with gallons of fresh milk to contribute. This miracle of God’s provision was typical to the daily ministry of George Muller, who during his life, fed and cared for more than 10,000 orphans, raising up 117 schools and providing Christian education for over 120,000 children.
Follow the patterns and principles that we’ve described here, and if provision doesn’t come immediately, keep praying and trusting God until it does. God is faithful, His Word is true, and He will honor the prayer of faith in the name of Jesus.
“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. “You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him” (Matthew 7:7-11 NLT).
My Experiences with Miraculous Provisions
From my early childhood in Sunday School, I can remember hearing these encouraging promises from the scriptures, even the flannelgraph illustrations that were used, showing Jesus feeding the little birds or giving colorful blossoms to the lilies of the field (Matthew 6:26-28). However, as I grew up, I always assumed these lessons had only been metaphors. I could hardly imagine a situation that I would need supernatural provision... until I came to Christ and was called to serve in ministry.
After our first year of marriage, my wife and I felt the Lord leading us toward full-time evangelism, and linked up with a college ministry that sent couples on mission trips to a variety of campuses around the country. However, after quitting our jobs and venturing about a thousand miles from home, we were surprised to learn that this well-intentioned, but poorly-organized ministry provided little in the way of financial support.
It was a shock to learn that we were pretty much on our own. But believing that God had led us down this path, we chose to continue on for the short-term... relying only on God to provide for us. And as it turns out, this is what God really had in mind all along, as He used this experience to teach us how to trust Him to meet our needs.
I had personally never been through anything like this... so far from home, with little money or resources. Not even friends or family to turn to if necessary. But we pressed forward, pulling a small camper behind our car... and amazingly, as we prayed and stood on the promises of His Word, He never failed us. One promise we frequently quoted, was from an epistle of Paul, “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
We nearly ran out of money or provisions on many occasions, but somehow God always met our need. In some instances, strangers just walked up and just handed us money, even in cities I’d never visited before. And while not usually scheduled to speak anywhere on Sundays, we would always visit the local churches, where we’d often be asked to share or preach... which would bring about free-will offerings that helped meet our need.
Of course, we were not without very trying moments, such as during our visit to Syracuse University. By the end of our week spent there, our money and resources were drained. I had less than five dollars, with a near empty gas tank. As my wife and I returned to our little camper that Friday night, I felt discouraged and ready to give up, but we knelt and prayed throughout the evening until we fell asleep.
The next thing I remember was awaking to a knocking at the trailer door. The sun was just coming up, and there was fresh dusting of snow on the ground outside. Since we knew no one there, I opened the door cautiously... and standing there was a short fellow with a grin, holding several grocery bags. “Here, these are for you,” he said, as he turned and scampered away on the snowy sidewalk.
Barely awake, my wife and I were shocked by the stranger’s brief visit. And as we looked through the sacks, we found groceries and other items, even many of our preferred brands. And in the bottom of one sack, was an envelope of cash, just enough to fill the gas tank. No one else knew our need or how much we needed a miracle, except our Lord. Before doing anything else that morning, we spent time thanking and praising God for hearing our prayers, and for meeting our needs again, as He did time and again!