The title of this article might raise a few eyebrows as many will say God cannot be limited in any capacity. Yet in the context of His written word, He is only obligated to do what He has promised in totality. Particular emphasis should be placed on the New Testament promises in this dispensation of Grace, especially those mentioned in the Epistles. For a succinct list of major promises already in our possession, please see our What We Believe section for a page entitled “Your Bountiful Inheritance.”
Is it possible that you can pray beyond God’s ability? Doesn’t the bible say that “all things are possible to him that believes” (Mark 9:23)? Yet, we know that in the context of scripture all things are possible to him that believes — within certain guidelines, limitations and boundaries that are clearly laid out by the Lord in His Logos. I can’t believe for 6000 camels to be balanced perfectly on the end of my nose before 6 o’clock tomorrow night as that is not promised in His word! I purposely make a bizarre statement here to prove a point; stand on His promises not your presumptions. If He promised it, it’s yours!
A promise to prosper
As long as we follow His statues and obey His instructions, we will prosper in due season despite trials, temptations and sufferings which come on this earth as a result of the fall of man. We have been redeemed from the curse of the law (Galatians 3:13) but the curses in the earth are still prevalent (Genesis 3:14-21). Certain limitations are set by Him for our benefit or protection and for others, which is an act of His mercy and long-suffering towards us. Not all prayers keep God’s uppermost, nor do they seek His Kingdom first (Matthew 6:33). With hindsight, there are some prayers down the years that we’re glad were never answered!
Please note that food and raiment are a given and our ‘needs’ are always met, this is clear in scripture (Matthew 6:30-33, 1st Timothy 6:8 & Philippians 4:19). The following discussion revolves around our ‘wants’ and the ‘desires of our heart’. God will never withhold any needs from His children as He is more loving than any earthly parent who also desires to meet his child’s needs (Luke 11:13). The following nine points are excerpts from teachings by Dr. Roy Hicks of whom Brother Kenneth E. Hagin called, “the greatest bible teacher he had ever known”. God has answered every prayer that’s ever been prayed providing all of the following have been accounted for:
Nine reasons why the answer to your prayer has not yet manifested
- You ask amiss (James 4:3) – Your relationship with the Father is not strong enough to sustain what you are asking for. You are asking with a selfish motive that does not fit God’s divine purpose and plan for your life. God will only answer prayer that is in the best interests of all those concerned according to His will as He is the perfect judge seeing both the future and the past. To grant you this selfish desire would be to your detriment in the long run.
- Pride (James 4:6) – Pride comes before the fall (Proverbs 16:18) and your success may hinder your relationship with the Father if you lack the maturity to handle it, in fact it was in times of affluence (not hardship), that the Jews in the Old Testament moved away from God and his ideals (apostasy). Pride is the reason for Lucifer’s fall (Ezekiel 28:17) and we all need to keep our pride level in check. God resists the proud (James 4:6) and much is written in scripture to warn us against pride.
- Your petition is out of God’s perfect will for your life – or against His documented will in His word. Are you asking God to move your mountain but at the same time building one? Some wisdom is required to remove detrimental habits in our lives. Remember mountain-moving faith requires that we walk in forgiveness otherwise it will be vain and futile (Mark 11:25). Are you trying to write Chapter 6 in your destiny when God wants you to finish chapter 2 first? There is a time and season for all things (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Taking on responsibilities when we’re not mature enough to handle them is a sure path to frustration and wounding. There is a perfect, good and acceptable will of God (Romans 12:2) and we should always seek His perfect will first and foremost. However if we press and press, He will ‘allow’ the acceptable which is not His first choice for you. God does not approve of everything that He allows as He respects your free will to choose, good or evil (1st Samuel 8:6).
- Timing – Although it may be His desire to grant your petition, It isn’t God’s time for it to be manifest, although at some point in the future when you’re ready, God will grant your petition (Galatians 6:9). Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength (Isaiah 40:31, Psalm 31:14-15). Consider the prayer answered now but the manifestation is in His timing and the way in which it manifests is up to Him too.
- If God answered you in this particular situation, He would be showing partiality, – which goes against His nature as He is not a ‘respecter of persons‘ (Acts 10:34) meaning what He has done for one person He will do for another as long as that person is willing to believe. Praying for sports events is a classic example; God sits on His throne and says, “May the best team win!” God is equitable to all His children.
- You simply don’t believe what you are praying for – The scripture informs us that at the time of prayer, if we believe those things that we are praying for, then you shall have them (them what? them things you prayed for – Mark 11:24). We should not pray to God for things we don’t believe He can do for us. Simply, if we don’t believe at the time of prayer, then we will not receive. A better way is to meditate on God’s word in the area you’re believing for (i.e. finances, health etc.) build up your faith and then pray when you’re ready to believe. Better to build up your faith level (Romans 10:17) to the point where you can conceive in your heart the promise and then pray in faith, as the prayer of faith is always answered (James 5:15).
- Unforgiveness – Gods ability to work on your behalf is a function of your ability to walk in forgiveness (up to 490 times in one day; Matt 18:22). Symptoms of sickness (mental and physical) many times in the body (but not always) can be traced to a root of unforgivness that has not been dealt with (Mark 11:25, James 5:14, 1 John 5:16).
- Not walking in love – Love is a command not a suggestion; it is expected from God and faith itself works by love (Galatians 5:6). Therefore our prayers can be severely hindered by a lack of love in our relationships (Matthew 5:22-26). Not walking in love towards your spouse can also hinder your prayers (1st Peter 3:7).
- Lack of Maturity – You are not mature enough to handle the blessings and responsibilities that come with your specific petition. (God is protecting you because He knows what you can or cannot handle.) The age and mental capacity of a child will dictate the father’s ability to communicate to and grant requests from his son or daughter. The father would not give a loaded gun to a 7 yr. old because of the immediate danger caused by the child’s incapacity to handle such a request, likewise your spiritual capacity or maturity is an indicator of how much God himself will allow you to steward at this time. God knows your maturity level and exactly what you’re capable of handling. Perhaps the Lord dislikes spoiled brats as much as we do…lol.
God’s two greatest gifts to mankind
The two greatest gifts God gave to man are choice and time. God lets us choose every day and He lets us use our allocated time to worship, pray and serve Him or downright disobey Him if we choose to. God will resist selfish prayers; He is reluctant to answer them even though we may not deem them to be selfish. We must search our hearts. Any prayer stemming from the wrong motive should not be answered in our best interests, because it promotes the wrong use of His will. We understand His will for our lives primarily through His written word and the witness in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. By letting ‘peace be the umpire’ and ‘ruling and reigning in our hearts’, we can make the best decisions (Colossians 3:15).
God reluctantly allowed Israel to have Kings instead of Judges to His disdain (1st Samuel 8). They rejected His will and chose theirs instead. God warned them of their impending sorrow as a result of their choice but He allowed them to choose wrongly and respected their decision. We must all make wise choices in life regarding marriage, job situations, large purchases etc. in alignment with His perfect will. Once again, God does not approve of everything that He allows on this earth as He respects man’s free will to choose good or evil. We can choose the wrong path if we want to and Abraham and Sarah’s decision to give birth to Ishmael through surrogate mother Hagar is a great example of that. We need to be patient to allow God to work His perfect will in our lives! Don’t feel pressured to act out of God’s timing.
Trust is the key
Lastly, when we petition God for something, we are not to ask how He will do it, but to trust Him in the manner in which He will answer our prayers (Proverbs 3:5-6). We are to fully trust the outcome to Him and not manage or manipulate circumstances in our favor as that is a sign of distrust. If you are in a pickle, ask the Lord for wisdom and He will grant it to you (James 1:5). We’re not saying decision making is easy and it can take time to mull over decisions before a clear path of peace is revealed to us, but we should seek the Lord in all things and trust the outcome to Him in His perfect timing. Don’t give up on your petitions; hold fast to His promises!
Bibliography- “Praying Beyond God’s Ability: the Enigma (Mystery) of Unanswered Prayer” – Dr. Roy H. Hicks – Jan 1, 1982 (Harrison House, Inc., Tulsa, Oklahoma).