So simple. Yet, a vast majority of the Church simply does not get it. Why is it that so many of our prayers go unanswered? I am not talking about getting an answer we may not like. I am talking about getting no answer at all. We pray for financial breakthroughs - they do not come. We pray for healing in our bodies - it does not happen. We pray for wisdom - and we're still stupid. We pray for guidance - we're lost. We pray for salvation in our friends and families - they still end-up in Hell. This is not God giving us an answer we do not like. This is us not getting an answer.
Jesus promises us that whatever we ask for in His name we will receive (John 16:23). We are promised that all we have to do is believe that we receive these things and we shall have them (Mark 11:24). We are promised that He hears us and we have that which we ask if we pray according to His will (1John 5:14-15). However, in spite of all these verses (and many others, if you take the time to go find them) we are still not receiving the things which we ask for. As a result, we have come up with blasphemous doctrines and teachings within our churches regarding the "sovereignty of God" - that He just does whatever He wants, whenever He wants, so we should all just shut our mouths and take it on the chin like the good little heathens we are...
Let's get one thing straight: God is sovereign... But only outside of His Word. If He promises us that we have whatever we ask for, then you can take it to the bank that you will get it! If you do not receive the petitions of your heart, then one of two things happened: you got in the way, or the devil stole it out from under you. God promises us that we shall receive the things we ask for. So what is getting in our way?
James says that the one who wavers will not receive anything from God. This notion of "sometimes God says 'yes' and sometimes He says 'no'" is exactly what James - the brother of Jesus - is describing here. That is wavering. That is double-mindedness. That is doubting. The one who doubts will not receive anything from God. It always takes faith. Faith is simply trusting God. It is a practical expression of your confidence in God and in His Word. Hebrews says that without such faith it is impossible to please God. And yet this doubtfulness is a foundation of our weekly church prayers. It is how we pray in tough times at home. We have headaches and grovel before God, trying to "coerce" Him into healing it. His Word has already promised us the healing (Is 53:5). We beg and grovel before the Throne about our difficult financial situations, hoping God will "finally hear us." The prosperity is already available to us (Gal 3:29). This is doubting, and Hebrews says it is impossible to please God when we doubt (Heb 11:6). If you consistently take the attitude "sometimes He does and sometimes He doesn't," it will frequently be "doesn't."
Do not waver. Jesus likens the entire Kingdom of God as a "seed" (Mark 4:26). Seeds need time to grow. You plant the Word of God in your heart and you wait for it to come about. Too many times we all grow weary of waiting and assume that since we did not receive the answer in a certain period of time that "God said 'no.'" Remember this: a delay is not a denial. Seeds take time to grow. Do not stop confessing that you have your answer just because you cannot see it or "feel" it. Contrary to what many may believe, the devil can slow down your Blessing. In Daniel 10, we see that God had endeavored to send an angel to comfort Daniel in time a duress, but it took longer than planned for him to get there. Look at verses 12-13:
"Then he said to me,'Do not be afraid, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understanding this and on humbling yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding me for twenty-one days; then behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia.'"
Look at what the angel told Daniel: "from the first day...your words were heard." God hears you the very moment you ask Him to do anything. And He sets out immediately on your behalf. However, sometimes things will get in the way, and notice that God did not immediately step in and stop the prince of Persia from getting in the way of Daniel's answer. It was up to Daniel to persist in prayer for God's wisdom in his life. And finally, it came through. Do not give up. Do not waver. Delays are not denials. Sometimes the seed needs more time to grow. And as for the "if it be God's will" argument? That entire list I gave you at the beginning is God's will! Financial breakthroughs, wisdom, healing, and salvation are all part of the Blessing that Jesus has afforded us on that cross. You should be receiving all of those things in your life when you pray for them. It is God's desire that you be "entire, wanting nothing" (Jas 1:4, KJV). For those religious-minded folks who think that means it is sinful to want anything, the Amplified puts "wanting nothing" as "lacking nothing." It means that God desires for us to be fully self-sufficeint in everything we do (as a testimony to His intervention in our lives). 2Corinthians 9:8 says that "God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in all things you may have abundance in every good deed."
That is God's will for His people, and Jesus promises us that when we pray accordingly, we will receive it. So no more of this "maybe, maybe not" attitude towards prayer. No more contingency plans in case God does not come through. Those plans are the very reason why God does not come through for so many Christians. Know the Word. Believe it. Then you will no longer concern yourself with "what ifs." In fact, you won't even have to "force yourself" to pray and take deep breaths every time in order to calm yourself. You will just know. That is how we receive things from God. Give Him time to work on your behalf. Let the seeds of His Word produce. Be patient (that word meaning 'constancy," not taking it on the chin and being happy about it anyway), and all that you ask and think will be yours.