I'm going through a difficult time and have prayed for my situation and I'm not sure exacty what to do.
How can we know when God has answered our prayer? The answer to your question depends on your relationship to God and what you asked from Him. First, you may want to visit several past questions dealing on prayer and abuses in prayer.
Your Relationship To God
Our relationship to God is key to everything in our life. This is illustrated in the life of the prophet Samuel who had been directed by God to select a new king for Israel. The current king, Saul, had sinned by being disobedient and then lied to God. Saul was quick with words. He was quick at lying. God had told him to kill all of the animals of a nation the Israelites had just conquered, but Saul did not do that. When confronted, he claimed the animals were saved so they could be sacrificed to the Lord. Here is Samuel’s response.
And Samuel said, “Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, And insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He has also rejected you from being king.” (NASB) 1 Samuel 15:22-23
So God told Samuel to find another king. God sent Samuel to the family of Jesse. The first son of Jesse that Samuel saw was very handsome. So handsome in fact that Samuel thought this was the new king, but he was wrong. What does God look for?
But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (NASB) 1 Samuel 16:7
God looks at the heart and not at our personal success, our bank account, our home or our good looks. He is not interested in our family connections, friends, our relationship to our pastor/priest/rabbi or our denomination. He is interested in our heart.
Is God interested in our heart when it comes to prayer? Our answer is found in Proverbs 15:29.
The LORD is far from the wicked, But He hears the prayer of the righteous. (NASB) Proverbs 15:29
The wicked or godless person is a person who does not seek after God. He is satisfied with his sin and does not desire to change. There is no remorse, regret or sorrow for his or her sin. So it is not surprising that God is far away from them. God is not talking about ignoring one who wants to turn away from their sin and to Him. This proverb is one of contrast. God ignores the prayers of the wicked but not those of the righteous. He listens to those who desire to live a holy life. This is the first key to answered prayer. What is your heart relationship to Him? Are you a Christian? Are you confessing your sins – admitting each sin to God? Do you really desire to live for God or just when you want your prayers answered? God is more interested in our heart. If you’d like to learn more, visit the page Searching for God.
Answers To Prayer
If our heart is right with God, He will hear our prayer.
And this is the confidence which we have before 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 which we have asked from Him. (NASB) 1 John 5:14-15
If our heart is right with Him, we will ask according to His will (see study on Seeking God’s Will) and He will grant that specific request. God does not always give us our request because we sometimes ask with selfish motives (James 4:3). So God often answers with “No!” How do we know when He has answered? Sometimes the answer is no and other times He takes a while in answering. The Lord took a long time, one month, in giving the prophet Daniel an answer to a simple question (Daniel 10). Sometimes He takes longer, as was the case with Simeon and Anna waited for the coming of Jesus (Luke 2:25, 36-38).
If you have a decision to make or you are seeking direction, let me suggest that you ask God for a sign. I often do that. He has always answered. God is more interested in our relationship with Him. Be sure you are a Christian and that your heart is seeking to be holy.
YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY. (NASB) 1 Peter 1:16