Answered Prayers—Do We Even Notice?
“When we pray, God hears more than we say, answers more than we ask, gives more than we imagine…in His own time and His own way.” Positive Quotes
10 second summary: Take time today to think about what you’ve prayed for over the last few days and weeks. Which prayers has God answered? Stop and focus on those answers, and thank Him for those blessings. Write down or record those answered prayers. Then, on the same document or piece of paper, record your current prayers with today’s date, description of your request, and blank spaces for the date and details of the answer. When you receive the answers, record and celebrate them! Being mindful of the many prayers God answers for us regularly, both big and small, increases our faith, our gratitude, and our life balance.
How to Recognize Answered Prayers
Many of us pray regularly, and we also regularly receive answers to our prayers. But do we always notice those answers? How much time do we spend praying our prayers as compared to the attention, gratitude, and focus we spend on the answers?
I admit, my unanswered prayers stick out stronger and more prominently in my mind than the answered ones. Can you relate to that? It seems in life that our problems often get a front-and-center attention position within our focus, and the good and positive things that are going right fade into the background.
If you have children, I know you can relate. How often do we notice and appreciate when they are playing quietly, behaving well, and doing things right? We may try, but usually what really jumps out at us is when they are cranky, fighting, misbehaving, or interrupting what we are doing. It’s just human nature to notice what’s screaming at us for our attention, and things that are going right or are in some sort of neutral zone get overlooked…and sometimes even taken for granted.
So today and this week, let’s be mindful to focus on God’s blessings in our lives, starting with our answered prayers. To help us focus, let’s record our prayers and their answers, and spend time thanking God for the amazing blessings He’s given us.
Start an Answered Prayers Journal
I started an Answered Prayers journal (OK, mine’s actually an Excel spreadsheet list) today, and encourage you to do the same. Super-simple, yet very impactful, and so glad I did. Mine looks like this:
In case you can’t see the image, it’s just a document titled “Answered Prayers,” with 4 columns called Date of Request, Prayer Request Specifics, Date Answered, and Answer Details.
Record Your Prayers
Then I started filling it in. The first prayer I recorded was about 60 days ago, when I prayed for wisdom and guidance to leave my corporate job and locate something new. There were several major concerns with that workplace and situation, none of which I’ll share out of respect for others, but I knew it was time to look for something different.
Watch for Answers
My prayer was answered 26 days ago when my position was eliminated and I was laid off from the company. Scary and not the answer I was anticipating at all! However, with more prayer, I realized this was the best answer I could have received. I’d always wanted to launch a business of my own, and help others, especially women, with their businesses. I’d always wanted to encourage women to live their best life, help them not feel so overwhelmed with their daily responsibilities, and provide support and tools to help them succeed. I’d always wanted to leverage my God-given talents and 21 years of business and leadership experience for my own ventures rather than just helping corporations. Yet making traction with my own business endeavors on the side of managing a busy corporate career while still balancing being a wife and mother was incredibly tough.
Suddenly I was free, and the opportunity to start my own business was right in my face. Not to mention, God blessed me and my family financially with a few month’s worth of income—something that was completely unexpected, unanticipated, and came together in various ways at the same time I lost my job (small severance package, tax return, small amount in our emergency fund savings, plus a “tide you over” check from my dad). Wow, what a blessing! Until now, starting my own business had seemed so far away, such a long-term goal, but suddenly it turned into an “OK, time to really dig into this” full-time focus!
I could have let losing my job bowl me over with worry, stress, and panic, but it didn’t. Not because I’m perfect, but because I know and trust God, and His faithfulness. So I thank Him not only for providing immediate financial resources, but for peace, wisdom, and faith to move forward. These are absolutely gifts from Him!
Pray, Record, Watch, Repeat
My second recorded answer to a prayer was a request on Valentine’s Day 2017, which was 20 days ago. That’s the day I “officially” decided (after about a week of prayer) to launch out with my own business instead of locating another traditional job. I shared that decision with family and a few close friends, all of whom were very supportive. So I knew the direction I was going in, but now I needed some income! I’d been studying entrepreneurship and business start-up tips for over a year, and had 21 years experience successfully launching and running the “business side” of corporate business ventures. But I needed clients of my own.
Just two days after praying for success and clients, I located my first client on an online forum. Again, not sharing details for confidentiality reasons, but so very blessed that God has provided this opportunity for me to help that group, and in turn earn income for my family. Since then, I’ve located other clients, and started to regain the income I need to replace.
You’d think with so many blessings staring me in the face, I’d be overwhelmed with joy and gratitude. And I have been, to a point. But I admit, I’m an imperfect person, so instead of focusing on these blessings and trusting God to keep things moving forward, I’ve been distracted in recent days with the income I’m still missing. The financial gap that still exists, and the pressure I’m placing on myself to move everything forward as quickly as possible.
So time to refocus! I’m the child of an amazing, loving God who has already blessed me in more ways than I can count! His word says “I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging for bread.” Psalm 37:25. Why in the world should I worry about what the future holds? God has always blessed me and my family, and He will continue to provide for our needs.
Keep the Faith
Just because I have a few unanswered prayers that are staring me in the face, doesn’t mean they should be my priority focus. I’m choosing to focus today on the answers and blessings I’ve already received. By recording them, and leaving spaces to record future answers for my current prayers, it’s helped me remember and refocus on what’s important.
A few thoughts on answered prayers:
“If God answers your prayer, He is increasing your faith. If He delays, He is increasing your patience. If He doesn’t answer, He has something better for you.” Unknown
“I took my troubles to the LORD; I cried out to him, and he answered my prayer.” Psalm 120:1 (NLT)
“God answers in 3 ways: He says yes and gives you what you want. He says no and gives you something better. He says wait and gives you the best.” Quotediary.me
“I cried to him with my mouth, and high praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me!” Psalm 66:17-20 (ESV)
“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” 1John 5:14-15 (ESV)
“For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer.” 1 Peter 3:12 (ESV)
“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:1 (ESV)
“Cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” James 5:16
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
Don’t get me wrong, not all of my (or anyone’s prayers) are answered right away. Sometimes the answer is not what I want it to be. God says in His word “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.” Isaiah 55:8 (NLT) Because He is God (and we’re not), He sees the big picture and knows what’s truly best for us.
Believe me, I didn’t want to get laid off from my job, and it wasn’t easy. There’s no “guarantee” that my business ventures will succeed. But God does say, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 (BSB) And that’s a promise I can hold onto. So somehow He will take care of me and my family, and provide for our needs as we trust in Him.
Today I encourage you to record your answered prayers, too. Take just a few minutes to focus on what He’s done to bless you and your family recently. Even if nothing major has happened, have you been blessed with good health? Blessed with food to eat, air to breathe, energy to make it through each day? Loving people around you, wisdom to do the things you need to do, somewhere safe to live? Blessed with the freedom to worship God? So many things…
Living a balanced life means mindfully focusing on all important aspects, not allowing our circumstances and the things in life that “seem” most urgent to throw us off track and take up our energy and focus. So please join me in noticing and recording the answers to your prayers, and focusing today on those blessings and answers. I’m humbled and grateful for the answers and blessings He’s given me, even though they weren’t what I expected. I’m choosing to keep that front and center today.
Let’s also write down our current prayers and leave blank spaces for answers, in faith. Who knows when they will be filled in, or what the answers will be—but God is faithful, and will provide for all we need, in the way and timing He knows is best.