By Shewanda Riley
We know what to do when God hasn’t answered our prayers. First, we repent. Then, we seek out another more “spiritual” prayer partner. We
may go on an extended fast. We might even start going to both Sunday worship services.
Some of us believe that by showing God how spiritual we are that he will suddenly then decide to answer our prayers. Others may become bitter or angry that their prayers have not been answered. James 4:3 says, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”
In addition, there are countless books that claim to have strategies on what to do to get your prayers answered. I admit that I’ve read some of them and put into practice the strategies with mixed results.
Sometimes, we give more attention to prayers left unanswered than to the prayers that have been answered by God. When we have unanswered prayers, often we focus on how God in his sovereignty chooses to answers prayers when he wants to, how he wants to and for whom he wants. Waiting on prayers to be answered teaches us how to have faith and, most importantly, develop patience.
But what do you do when God answers your prayers? As strange as it sounds, knowing how to respond to God when he answers your prayer is just as important as knowing how to respond when you are waiting on your prayer to get answered. Hannah from the Old Testament shows there is more to it than just being grateful when your prayer is answered.
The Bible shows us in 1 Samuel 1 how Hannah prayed to the Lord for a child for many years. In verse 10 of that chapter, she made a vow to the Lord that if he blessed her to have a son, she would give the child back to him. Eventually, the Lord answered her prayers and she had a son she named Samuel.
Verses 27- 28 say, “I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD.”
I Samuel 2 shows that she didn’t brag about her prayer being answered; instead she expressed thankfulness to God. It takes humility to do like Hannah and give back to God what he has given to us. In looking at Hannah’s story, we see the wisdom of her response. When our prayers get answered, we have to learn how to graciously accept God’s favor.
More importantly, answered prayers can teach us how to be humble and then encourage others who may be waiting on God to answer their prayers.
Shewanda Riley is a Dallas, Texas based author of “Love Hangover: Moving From Pain to Purpose After a Relationship Ends.” Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @shewanda.