Can You Recognize the Answer?

“’For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’” says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the

earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.’”

Isaiah 55:8-9

Be honest. Have you ever prayed to God while already having a made-up mind as to how God would or should answer your prayer–when we try to figure out what God is doing or anticipate what His next move will be? I think this is one of the reasons we miss the answers to our prayers. We try to bring God down to our level instead of coming up to the level of God. We could never fully understand the ways of God.

God is not referring to Himself as some arrogant and distant God, but He is making a sharp contrast between His thoughts and ways as compared to those of humanity. God is omnipotent and omniscient. He is the Creator of the heavens and the earth. He knows everything. He can understand everything. There is not one thing that will ever take God by surprise. He is not startled when we make the biggest fumble of our lives. He is not shocked when He sees us doing the right thing. He is God. There is not one test that God does not know the answers to–not some of them, but all of them.

When life happens to us, we do not know the decisions we should make or the path we should take. Those are the reasons we should pray. Ignorance is not always bliss. If we do not file our taxes correctly, the Internal Revenue Service says, “Ignorance of the law is no defense.” In fact, this is a fundamental legal principle. The laws apply to everyone within a jurisdiction, regardless of whether they are known or understood. God could never be faced with such a conundrum because He is God.

If we pray, believing we have things figured out, we could receive an answer and miss it. Why? Because we cannot comprehend the ways and thoughts of God. When someone wrongs us, we want to return the favor, but God’s ways tell us to forgive or turn the other cheek. When we are faced with challenging situations, worry might be our first reaction. But God tells us to pray about everything.

As humans, we have a natural tendency to rely on our humanness, but as believers, we are encouraged to rely on God, to trust Him and be confident in His love for us. God does not want us ignorant, and He freely shares His limitless knowledge with us. However, if we do not ask Him for wisdom, we will not receive it.

In Isaiah 55:7, God tells His people to repent of wickedness and turn back to Him so they can receive His compassion and pardon. God’s plan has not changed. He calls all men to turn away from sin—everything that opposes Him—and turn to Him in faith and trust. Unfortunately, we as believers sometimes lose sight of this simple truth. When we miss the mark, we sometimes avoid God by not praying. We trick ourselves into avoiding Him, and all the while our situation worsens. Then, when we have tried everything else, we decide to give God a try as a last resort.

If we want to recognize God’s answers to our prayers when we pray, we must first build a relationship with Him so that we can build trust and begin to learn of His ways. One of the things that makes us so uncertain in prayer is that we are asking things of a person we do not know. Even in the natural, when we ask a favor of another person, we are on the edge of our seats because we do not know the person well enough to predict his response. I am in no way saying that we should try to predict how God will answer our prayers. We cannot put God in a box. We must allow God to color outside of the lines of our imagination that gave us our own answer when we prayed.

Our job is to trust the character of God and the integrity of His Word. When we do this, we can be certain that our prayers in faith are heard and will be answered. We have the Holy Spirit to give us clarity about the answer we receive.

Reflection: Think about a time when you prayed to God and the answer was not what you expected or wanted to accept. Did that situation bring disappointment to you? Did it change your prayer life at all?

Prayer: Father, before You formed me in my mother’s womb, You knew me. You know me better than I know myself. Help me to develop my fellowship with You so that I can learn of Your ways. Teach me to recognize the answers You give me when I pray. When I cannot see Your hand, help me to understand Your heart, which is full of love for me. This I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Upcoming Connect 21 Events

  1. Saturday Morning Prayer (Jan 20th @ 9 am at The Way Woodstock 109 Towne Lake Pkwy, Woodstock GA)
  2. Sunday Morning Service (Jan 21st @ 10 am at River Ridge High School)
  3. Prayer Masterclass (Wednesday, Jan 24th via YouTube (