Maybe God Is Answering Your Prayers

It may not always be what you want at the time, but God does have a plan for you.

By Joel Osteen, Author of "Become a Better You"

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One of the best prayers that we could ever pray is “God, not my will, but your will be done.” If you will stay open to his direction, and follow your heart, God will protect you.

“It seems like God never answers my prayers,” someone may say. “He never does what I want.”    

Maybe God is answering your prayers; he’s simply saying no. Or maybe he’s saying it’s not the right time. Or maybe he’s saying, “I’m not going to remove that obstacle until you change your attitude and quit complaining about it.” Make some simple adjustments, and you will see things begin to improve.

I thank God that he didn’t answer some of my prayers, because sometimes what I thought was the best for me wasn’t the best at all. Nevertheless, if you push and manipulate, trying to make things happen, God will sometimes let you have your way—and you will have to learn his lessons the hard way.

I’ve seen people jump into a relationship or a business deal that they didn’t feel good about, but they wanted it so badly. God is a gentleman. If you insist, he will back off and let you do things your way. Most of the time when we do that, though, we end up settling for second best.

If events are not happening as quickly as you would like, or if you are not seeing circumstances change in your favor, open your grip on the situation; relax and learn to trust God. Know this: God is on your side. He is not trying to hold you back. Nobody wants you to fulfill your destiny more than Almighty God. Nobody wants you to see your dreams come to pass any more than he does. He put the dream in your heart in the first place. Let him lead you and guide you.

I believe one of the best prayers that we could ever pray is “God, not my will, but your will be done.” I pray it in some form every day: “God, open up the right doors and close the wrong doors.” If you will stay open to His direction, and follow your heart, God will protect you. It says in Proverbs, “If you acknowledge God in all your ways, He will direct your paths.” 49 One translation says, “He’ll crown your efforts with success.”

Not long ago, some of our staff members and I were flying to another city aboard a small airplane. The aircraft had only one seat on each side of the aisle. After we took off, I wanted to get my tray table out so I could make some notes. The tray table on this particular plane came right out of the side, beneath my window. There was a little sign that said “pull,” so I pulled, but I couldn’t get it open. It was stuck. My friend Johnny was sitting across the aisle, so I looked over at his tray table, which he had pulled out with ease, and his window looked exactly like mine. I went back to work, trying to extricate my table, yanking on it even harder. I thought, I’m going to get this tray table out if it’s the last thing I ever do!

I tugged and pulled, and it still wouldn’t come out. About that time, Johnny came over and started pulling on the table release, and he couldn’t get it out either. One of our other staff members tried as well. Nothing happened. Finally, I sat down across the aisle in a different seat. That’s when I looked up and noticed right above that window where we had been pulling was a little sign in big bold letters. It read, “No tray table this seat. Emergency exit only.”

I said, “Dear God, thank you for not letting me have my way. Thank you for not opening up that door.” Thank goodness the people who designed that plane knew there’d be people like me on board. They put a latch up top, where you had to use both hands to open the emergency door. Otherwise, pulling that latch may indeed have been one of the last things that I ever did!

Thank God, he knows what’s best for us. Thank God that he’s merciful and he doesn’t always give us our way.

I’ve learned that when my prayers aren’t being answered, or when things aren’t happening as fast as I would like, that either means that God is protecting me from danger up ahead, it’s not the right time, or God has something better in store.

Joel Osteen, author of Become a Better You: 7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day (Copyright © 2007 by Joel Osteen), and his wife, Victoria, are the pastors of America’s largest church, Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas.

Read an excerpt from the book.