How can I know that the answer
to my prayer is from God?

 



 
Tough question! In order to help answer it let's take an example ...
The answer can depend on a number of things, the main questions being, What have you asked for? In our example, are you asking for a new job when you should maybe be asking for strength in your current job? Are you wanting God to arrange things so that you don't have to work?
 
 
How are you praying?
 
 
Are you praying for the right thing? In our example, is the problem to do with the work itself, the people that you have to work with, or with yourself?
 
 
Are you more concerned with yourself or with others?
 
 
So why test against Scripture? From 2 Timothy 3:16,

 
 
And why pray in faith?
 
 
But does that mean then that for every question we have, the Bible contains an answer?
 
God has given us something better than just some pat answers to our questions. We have His principles, and it is those principles that we are to apply to every situation we find ourselves in. Those principles are set out in His book. For example, in Matthew 7:1-12 we can see that the Christian is not to judge hypocritically or self-righteously. We must evaluate a person's character, whether their life shows fruit (verse 16). Scripture repeatedly exhorts believers to evaluate carefully and choose between good and bad people and things. The so-called "Golden Rule" is stated in Matthew 7:12, But as Patience Strong once wrote,
 
It is not a simple thing at times understanding God's word, it's why we should keep reading and studying the Bible.
 
 
So if we can not work it out for ourselves what can we do about it? But the kind of question that we asked at the beginning is an extremely difficult one to answer without going into specifics and overloading on examples. Life is sufficiently complex for us to never compile an exhaustive list of commands for our daily lives. It's what the Pharisees were accused of doing by Jesus - a law for every minutiae.
 
 
But what happens if we have done all this and we still don't know?
 
 
So let me give a real life example. Joy is currently working as a teacher, but she has a bad neck which makes it difficult for her to bend over and look down at the kid's work, both in class and at home when she is marking their work. And it has been getting worse, headaches, dizzy spells that sort of thing.
So she and her husband, Ian, have a decision to make, does she keep teaching or give up work? Well, if she keeps teaching then she will probably end up taking a lot of time off, she will need visits to the chiropractor, and it will probably have an adverse effect in later years. The chiropractor costs money, dealing with the consequences later on in life may not be cheap, but they could certainly do with the salary that she brings home. If she gives up work then they wont have that salary, but she will be a happier person which will also affect her health which will be beneficial for her later on in life. But what does God want her to do? Well they prayed about it, they read the Bible, no divine inspiration just a feeling that the best thing for her was to give up being a teacher.
So how do they know that this feeling they both have is truly from God? Is this their answer to prayer?
God does not want us to be lazy, we are to work, we are also to be out there amongst non-believers (says so in the Bible !). So from reading the Bible, it wasn't a case of Joy not working at all, a change of career would be required then. But where does God want her to work? They were unable to wait long for an answer to that question, because she had to give her notice in soon.
So without knowing what work God has in-store for them, they had to make a step of faith. They had to trust that God would look after them, that they would continue to have enough money coming in to pay the bills, and that He would find Joy something to do. She handed in her resignation. Well, not long after they had made that decision she got a request to do some tutoring - an answer to prayer?
What the future has in-store they (and we) don't know, but now that they have made that decision a number of opportunities have presented themselves.
It will be fun (and hard at times) for them and us.
 
 
So, from what we experienced in that example, it shows that we don't always have an answer to the question at the top of the page, we just have to trust in what God had said He would do as written in Scripture, i.e. do what was best for us.
 
 
But sometimes we can need some guidance on specific areas, and knowing where to look can be daunting, so the following are just some of the things that the Bible comments on (in alphabetical order, taken from the Gideon Bible I found in a hotel once) ...
        
 Afraid Adversity
 Psalms 56:3, 4, 10-11 Matthew 10:28-33
 Isaiah 12:2, 41:10 Philippians 4:4-7
 Mark 4:35-41  
    
 Anger Attacked
 Matthew 5:22-25 Psalms 35:1-2, 54:1-4
 James 1:19-21 Proverbs 18:10
    
 Bereaved / Heartbroken Bitter or critical
 Psalms 147:3 Psalms 73:21-25
 1 Corinthians 15:51-57 Matthew 7:1-5
 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 Romans 14:10-13
 Revelation 21:3-5 1 Corinthians 4:5
    
 Bereaved / Heartbroken Bitter or critical
 Psalms 147:3 Psalms 73:21-25
 1 Corinthians 15:51-57 Matthew 7:1-5
 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 Romans 14:10-13
 Revelation 21:3-5 1 Corinthians 4:5
    
 Choosing a career Citizenship
 Proverbs 3:5-6, 16:3-9 Matthew 22:21
 Jeremiah 29:11 Romans 12:7 - 13:14
 James 1:5-8 Titus 3:1-6
   1 Peter 2:13-17
    
 Conscious of sin Considering Marriage
 Psalms 51 Proverbs 31:10-30
 Psalms 103:12 Matthew 19:4-6
 Proverbs 28:13 Ephesians 5:22-33
 Luke 15:11-24 Hebrews 13:4
 1 John 1:5-10  
    
 Contemplating Revenge Contentment
 Proverbs 20:22 Colossians 3:16-17
 Romans 12:17-19 Hebrews 13:5-6
 1 Thessalonians 5:15  
 1 Peter 2:23  
    
 Conversation Criticism
 Ephesians 4:15,20-32 Matthew 7:1-5
 2 Timothy 2:23-26 Romans 2:1-4
   Romans 14:4-13
    
 Death Desperate / At wits end
 John 11:25-27 Psalms 55:16-17, 22
 Romans 14:7-9 Psalms 61:1-3, 62:1-2
 Philippians 1:21 Psalms 94:18-19, 22
 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 Psalms 121:1-2, 7
    
 Diligence Discipleship
 Romans 12:11 John 15:1-8
   Acts 11:19-26
   1 Peter 2:21-25
    
 Distressed or Troubled Doubting
 Psalms 9:9-10, 50:15 2 Kings 18-19
 Isaiah 25:1, 4 Psalms 53:1
 Romans 8:28-39 Isaiah 33:5-6
 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, 16-18 Mark 9:23-24
   John 20:24-31
    
 Drink Abuse Drug Abuse
 Proverbs 20:1, 23:29-35 Proverbs 1:10, 14:12
 Ephesians 5:18 John 8:34-36
 1 Thessalonians 5:6-8 2 Peter 2:19
    
 Enemies Envy
 Matthew 5:10-12, 43-48 Proverbs 14:30
   Galatians 5:26
   Philippians 4:11
   James 3:16
    
 Facing Death Failure comes
 Psalms 23:4 Psalms 73:26, 84:11
 Jonah 2:7-9 Psalms 77
 John 3:16, 14:1-3 Hebrews 4:14-16
 Revelation 21:4 Jude 24-25
    
 Faith Faith in weak
 Mark 11:22-24 Joshua 1:7-9
 Romans 5:1-2 Isaiah 7:9
 Hebrews 11:1 - 12:2 Matthew 8:5-13
   Luke 12:22-31
   Hebrews 11
    
 Faithfulness Far from God
 Luke 19:12-26 Psalms 42:5-11, 139:1-18
 1 Corinthians 4:1-5 Psalms 145:18
   Acts 17:22-30
   James 4:8
    
 Feeling Inadequate Feeling Lost
 Psalms 138:8 Psalms 107:4-9
 1 Corinthians 1:20-31 Luke 19:10
 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 Ephesians 2:12-13
 Philippians 4:12-13
    
 Fellowship Forgiveness
 Acts 2:42-47 Matthew 18:21-35
 Romans 12:9-16 Acts 13:26-39
 1 Corinthians 10:16-17 Ephesians 4:31-32
 1 John 1:5-7
    
 Friends Fail Friendship
 Psalms 27:10-14 John 15:2-17 (12-17?)
 Psalms 41 James 4:4
 Luke 17:3-4
 2 Timothy 4:16-18
    
 Generosity Gratitude
 Acts 4:34-37, 20:32-35 Luke 17:17-18
 2 Corinthians 9:6-15 Colossians 3:15
   1 Thessalonians 5:18
    
 Honesty Humility
 Romans 12:17 Luke 22:24-27
 Ephesians 4:28 John 13:4-17
   Philippians 2:3-11
   1 Peter 5:5-7
    
 Ill or in Pain In Danger / Threatened
 Psalms 38:3-10 Psalms 27:1, 118:6-9
 Psalms 69:29-30, 103:1-4 Proverbs 18:10
 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 Mark 4:37-41
 James 5:14-16 1 Peter 3:13-14
    
 Insulted Intimidated
 Psalms 69:9 Psalms 3:1-3, 55:20-22
 Proverbs 12:16 Proverbs 29:25
 Romans 15:3-4
 1 Peter 2:23
    
 Jealousy Just retired
 Luke 15:25-32 Psalms 71:9
 Galatians 5:19-26 Proverbs 16:3
 James 3:13-18 Isaiah 46:4
   Philippians 4:12
    
 Left Home Lies
 Psalms 121 Proverbs 6:16-19, 19:9
 Proverbs 3:1-7 John 8:44
 Mark 10:28-30 Ephesians 4:25
   Revelation 21:8
    
 Lonely Looking for a job / Made redundant
 Genesis 28:15 Psalms 71:3
 Deuteronomy 31:8 Proverbs 16:3-9
 Psalms 23 Isaiah 48:17, 58:9-11
 Revelation 3:20 Colossians 3:17, 23
    
 Love Marriage
 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 Mark 10:2-12
 1 John 4:7-12 Ephesians 5:21-33
    
 Needing Guidance Needing Peace
 Psalms 32:8-10 Isaiah 26:3-4
 Proverbs 3:5-6 John 14:27
 Isaiah 48:17-18 Romans 5:1-5 (4-5?)
 Romans 12:1-2 Philippians 4:4-7
    
 Obedience Old Age
 Matthew 7:24-29, 12:50 Luke 2:25-38
 John 15:10-14 Titus 2:1-6
 Acts 5:29-32
    
 Patience Permissiveness
 James 5:7-11 Romans 6:1-2, 11-14
   1 Corinthians 6:9-20
    
 Prayer Praying
 Matthew 26:38-41 Psalms 66:17, 20
 Luke 18:1-8 Luke 11:1-13
 Ephesians 6:18 John 14:12-14
   James 5:13, 16
   1 John 5:14-15
    
 Priorities Purity
 Matthew 6:33 2 Timothy 2:22
 Luke 12:15-21 Titus 1:15-16
    
 Riches Righteousness
 Matthew 6:24, 33 Romans 1:16-18, 3:10-26
 Mark 10:17-31 Romans 5:1-21, 6:11-23
 1 Timothy 6:7-12
    
 Salvation Sexual Immorality
 Romans 10:9-11 Proverbs 5:1-21
 Ephesians 2:4-9 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, 13
 Titus 2:11-14 Galatians 5:19-23
   1 Thessalonians 4:3-7
    
 Sleepless Steadfastness
 Psalms 3:5, 4:1, 6-8 Luke 9:51
 Proverbs 3:21-26 1 Corinthians 15:57-58
 Matthew 11:28 Ephesians 6:10-18
 1 Peter 5:7 1 Peter 5:8-10
    
 Stealing Sympathy
 Exodus 20:15 Romans 15:1
 Romans 13:9-10 Hebrews 13:3
 Ephesians 4:28 James 1:27
 Hebrews 13:5 1 Peter 3:8
    
 Thankful Thoughts
 Psalms 92:1-5 Romans 12:3
 Psalms 100 Philippians 4:8
 2 Corinthians 2:14
 Ephesians 5:19-20
    
 Unemployed Victimised
 Ecclesiastes 7:14 Psalms 37:8-11, 34
 Jeremiah 29:11 Psalms 59:3-4, 9-10
 Philippians 4:11-13 Proverbs 16:7
   Hebrews 13:6
    
 Wanting to be a Christian Wanting Divorce
 Isaiah 55:6-7 Malachi 2:15-16
 John 1:12, 3:14-19, 36 Mark 10:1-12
 Acts 16:30-31 Romans 7:2-3
    
 Wanting Suicide Weary
 1 Kings 19:3-5 Psalms 116:3-14
 Psalms 31:9, 14-15, 88:1-5, 13 Isaiah 30:15, 18, 40:28-31
 Isaiah 50:10 Matthew 11:28-30
 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
    
 Witnessing Worried
 Isaiah 43:10 Psalms 46
 Acts 1:8, 5:20-21, 18:9-10 Isaiah 43:1-3
 1 Peter 3:15 Nahum 1:7
   Matthew 6:25-34
   Philippians 4:6-7
    
 Wrongly accused / Unfairly treated
 Lamentations 3:59-63
 Luke 6:27-28
 Hebrews 12:3
 1 Peter 2:19-24

 
 

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All information in this page correct as of 21st November 1999.