Does God always answer prayer?

I believe that God always answers our prayers—the Bible is full of examples, plus we have verses such as Matthew 21:22: “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”

Yet, for many of us, our life experience tells us otherwise. Does that mean God lied? Is the Bible untrustworthy? Or, perhaps, is it our lack of understanding that’s causing the problem?

Many years ago, Pete and I dreamed of moving to someplace less urban than the middle of Silicon Valley. We were tired of the traffic, fed up with the smog, and yearning for a simpler lifestyle. We prayed, and it seemed as if God was saying yes, get ready, you’re going to move. Great! We’ve always enjoyed the northwest, so Pete spent several months investigating jobs in the Seattle area. Things looked positive, but then the doors started slamming shut. We were so confused. Hadn’t God given us the go-ahead? Had He changed His mind?

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Angry at God

I sat listening to my friend pour out her sorrow and concern for her son. He had been a vibrant believer, praying with authority, intimate with Jesus, a successful evangelist who was planning to go overseas as a missionary. And now he had just proclaimed himself an atheist.

How could someone that close to God suddenly decide that He doesn’t exist? It’s a long story which I won’t elaborate on here, but as best as his parents could piece together, the problem stems from unanswered prayer. He prayed that God would step in and set him free from an addiction—and God didn’t obey him.

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