How do you pray when you don’t seem to see any results?  When you say your prayers to God, do you wonder if he hears?  Having answered prayer is possible.  You can find an answer to every prayer by looking in the three main categories of prayer answers which are Action Answers, Presence Answers and Word Answers.  This method works even when circumstances don’t change for the better because presence and word answers help you feel like you’re making progress and also give you hope, a way to deal with stress and help you not feel alone.

How to do this prayer practice:

Prayer Requests at the House of Mary In Turkey1.  Expand your definition of the word “Answer.”

When we hear about answers to prayer we normally think about fortunate changes of events when things turn out as we’d hoped, such as healings, new babies and job promotions.  But life is rarely like that.  Sometimes things don’t change for the better right away.  Sometimes they even get worse.  Does that mean God hasn’t answered?

The word answer actually has three definitions that apply to prayer: Resolution, Response and Reply. These correspond to the three main categories of prayer answers: Action Answers, Presence Answers and Word Answers.

2.  Look for a variety of Action answers.

Action answers are what we normally hope for – resolutions or solutions.  However the solution may be much different than we envisioned.  Maybe you’ve heard that the three ways that God answers prayer are yes, no and wait.  Actually these are all in the category of Action Answers because they all have to do with events and with what did or didn’t happen.  “No” certainly isn’t the answer we were hoping to get, but sometimes in retrospect we can see that it was providential because we went a totally new direction that turned out to change our lives.    

3.  Look for Presence Answers.

Presence Answers are responses from God.  They don’t change our situations but rather change our attitudes by giving us renewed strength, hope and the reassurance that we’re not alone and that God cares.  Presence answers can come through the loving presence of people who stay at our side during our times of need, through small signs and coincidences that renew our awareness that God is there or we suddenly receive a supernatural feeling of God’s peace and love.

Presence answers are more prevalent than Action Answers and in some ways much more helpful because our problems don’t have to come to final resolution for us to see and feel God responding to us.      

4.  Look for Word Answers.

Word answers are replies from God.  If we converse with someone, it’s natural for them to say something in reply to us.  The same goes for talking with God.  However often we don’t recognize word answers because we think they have to be dramatic and unmistakable.  And we wonder if God really talks to ordinary people such as ourselves.

You have already gotten many word answers because there are actually two sources of word answers.  The first is through outside sources.  When you pray about something you may later find just the kind of good direction and advice you need from a trusted friend, from reading the Bible, from a chance comment or even from the words to a song!

The second source of word answers is through what I call the inner voice.  This is the still small voice of the Holy Spirit within us.  Of course not everything we think is from God.  With practice we can begin to distinguish God’s voice because it doesn’t sound like our normal selfish, short-sighted ways of thinking.  And the message always lines up with the truth in the Bible.     

5.  Get to know God personally.

Finding answers to prayer becomes easier the closer we become to God.  Presence and Word answers are only found in the context of a personal relationship with God through Jesus.  Being very familiar with the Bible increases our knowledge of God, and acting on His directions increases our trust.

My personal experiences and tips:

I discovered the three main categories of prayer answers while writing a book called Surprised by Prayer where I interviewed people all over the country and wrote down their true stories of answered prayer.   I wondered why I wasn’t getting more answers in my own life, so I decided to try a 100 Answered Prayer Experiment to try and find what seemed like an impossible amount of personal answers.

At first I really struggled.  Then I realized that I had never thought about how to find prayer answers.  I realized that in my book I had done a chapter on Presence and on Words from God and it came to me that these were the key to my search.  Using the three main categories of prayer answers I was able to record 100 personal answers to prayer in 53 days.  The experience was so life changing that I kept on numbering and today I have over 1,800 answers to prayer recorded in my journal.

How to fit this prayer idea into your schedule:

Word and Presence answers can come at any moment of the day or night.  The key is in practicing spotting them when they come your way.   If you already have a time of daily meditation, you can add a few moments to ask yourself if you have seen any Word or Presence answers within the last 24 hours.

The Biblical origins and traditional roots of this method of prayer:

“Then you will call, and the Lord will answer, you will cry for help and he will say, ‘Here I am.’”

This verse shows both the Word Answers (God speaking) and Presence Answers (God reassuring us that He’s there.) 

Copyright Karen Barber 2011  All rights reserved.