I really wish God had a mailing address. Then we could correspond back and forth, me sending Him questions and requests for guidance, and Him answering me personally with letters that began Dear Daughter.
Yes, I know some of you are going to say: But He already wrote you a letter! It’s called the Bible.
I agree. God made sure His plan was revealed in a form that I can now read from a bound book or even my phone screen (thank you, Bible app!). I’m incredibly grateful for his Holy Word.
BUT wouldn’t we all like to have specific answers to the specific questions in our specific lives? What should I do about the conflict in this relationship, God? Where are my personal blind spots? What can I do to have a healthier marriage? When will things get better?
I’m just saying that if God feels so moved, I’d welcome a postcard.
In the meantime, how does God actually answer prayers. What does that look like?
I could point to stories in the Bible or testimonies others have told me, but today I’m going to stick with my own experience. And then invite you in the comments to share your experience. In no particular order, here’s what I’ve seen in my life.
1. He reminds me of what He has said and done.
Some people say things like, “God told me…” or “God put it on my heart that…” but I think the primary way God speaks to me is just pushing something the forefront of my mind. Suddenly I remember a scripture I read the day before, or a Bible story with a similar storyline as my own, or merely a godly principle (love, patience, perseverance) that I need to pursue.
It’s not a voice. It’s not a gut feeling. It’s more like a nudge in my brain. But I attribute it to God, because oftentimes it’s something seemingly out of the blue. It feels like it could have come from me, but it’s more likely the Holy Spirit prompting me.
2. He places the right people in my life.
When I say that I have friends who have been a blessing to me, I mean that quite literally. God has divinely blessed me with some insightful friends and family. Proverbs 1:5 says, “Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance.” Sometimes, I obtain guidance from others God has placed in my life.
When I have a specific question, I can go to a godly friend or mentor, discuss the issue, and know that I will receive a thoughtful and godly response. They may not know the answer either, but they will have some nugget of wisdom to help me through the situation. In essence, their presence and wisdom is an answer to prayer.
3. He fixes stuff.
I’d actually say this is the least common answer I get from God. Because, as much as we’d all like it to happen this way, when I pray something like, “God, will you take away this problem?” the problem doesn’t go away. Maybe He’s allowing that issue in my life to refine me, as Isaiah 48:10 says: “See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.” (See also Zechariah 13:9; 1 Peter 1:6-7). For instance, I sincerely believe that God did not answer my prayer to resolve my marriage’s problems when our relationship was a mess years back, because I hadn’t learned the lessons I needed to learn yet. Things got better when I allowed myself to be refined by Him.
However, sometimes God has fixed stuff in my life. I prayed for healing, and the person I prayed for got better. I prayed for financial help, and money unexpectedly arrived. I prayed for conflict to de-escalate, and it did. Sometimes God will indeed fix stuff for us if we’ll just ask (with the right motives, of course).
4. He changes me.
This is more than the reminders I talked about above. I pray to become a better person in a certain area, and it becomes easier to do just that. Let’s say I’m a young mother dealing with the frustration of two physically demanding preschoolers and my patience is worn thinner than rice paper. So I pray, “Dear God, give me patience.” And then I feel a subtle shift inside me, such that I actually have more patience in the moment.
As I pray to become more like Christ, God’s answering that prayer — day by day, bit by bit, virtue by virtue.As I pray to become more like Christ, God's answering that prayer. Click To Tweet
Perhaps our prayers to become more like Christ are the ones God most likes to answer.
Now how does all this relate to how God answers prayers for our marriage and/or our sexual intimacy?
- We need to know what God has said and done about marriage and sexual intimacy. We need a solid theology of marriage and sex based on His Word, so that the Holy Spirit can remind us as we pray what God desires and how we can be a part of His plan.
- We need to seek out marriage-positive people with godly answers. Yes, I want to be one of those resources, but you’ll likely need other marriage resources as well — blogs and books, counselors or mentors, friends and mentors, and church ministries that can support you and give you wise, godly advice.
- We need to ask God to fix what’s wrong in our marriages. He might well just fix it. But if He doesn’t, you’re not being ignored or punished. This is a broken world and bad stuff happens, and sometimes God just uses the bad stuff to test and refine us.
- We need to pray to become more like Christ. You can start by reading the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23 and the definition of love from 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Decide which virtue you’re lacking — you know what it is, or if you don’t, ask a good friend or your spouse and they’ll tell you — and then pray for God to grow you in that virtue.
Now tell me how God answers prayer in your life. (And if one of you says God sent you a postcard, I’m going to be supremely jealous!)