You’ve asked three questions, so we’ll take them one by one, starting with the last one.

1) What kind of people does the Lord answer? We have the answer in Psalm 34:15 and 17, “The eyes of the LORD are on the RIGHTEOUS, and His ears are open to their cry….the RIGHTEOUS cry out, and the LORD hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles” (NKJV). The “righteous” are those who are trusting the Lord for salvation. We read in Romans 4:3, “For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness’.” Today, the moment a sinner trusts in Jesus Christ for salvation, God counts him as righteous. Romans 3:25-26 say, “Whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness…that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

The word “righteous” also refers to the believer “living a righteous life.” In James 5:16 we are taught that “the effective, fervent prayer of a RIGHTEOUS MAN avails much.” A believer who desires to “do what is right” and lives his life according to this principle, will be fervent in prayer and it will not only be HEARD by God, but it will be ANSWERED!

2) What type of prayers does the Lord answer? 1st John 5:14-15 supply the answer: “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ASK ANYTHING ACCORDING TO HIS WILL, He hears us, and if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.” In short, our prayers must be according to God’s Mind and purposes. They must be asked with the desire to GLORIFY HIM, to be a BLESSING TO OTHERS that are in need, or for a personal need that you have. We have the OPPOSITE of this in James 4:3, “You ask and do not receive, because YOU ASK WITH WRONG MOTIVES, so that you may spend it on your pleasures” (NASB). We saw that asking “according to His will” meant we want to please God by bringing glory to Him and by Him meeting real needs, whether or ourselves or others. James is speaking of praying with one person and one object in mind: OURSELVES and OUR LUSTS! If our heart is occupied with satisfying the desires of our flesh, we can’t expect God to answer us; we will NOT receive what we ask for.

3) Why is the Lord ignoring me? It is, perhaps, impossible to answer this one with any certainty. If you are indeed a believer (and thus “righteous in God’s sight”) who desires to live a righteous life, and asking something “according to His will,” then you can be assured He is listening to your prayers (as we saw in the scriptures above). You may need to exercise patience, for the Lord may be testing your resolve before He grants you your request. The Lord Jesus taught the virtue of patience in Luke 18:1, “Then He spoke a parable to them, that MEN ALWAYS OUGHT TO PRAY AND NOT LOSE HEART.” I will let you read the parable (of a judge and a widow) in verses 2-5. It illustrates exactly what the Lord said, that we need to “continue in prayer” until our prayers are answered. If we “lose heart” and quit praying, we can’t expect to receive what we are praying for.

In closing, there may be times when we ask the Lord for something and His answer is NO. I would encourage you to read and meditate on 2nd Corinthians 12:1-10. In this passage we see the apostle Paul being caught up to heaven (verses 1-6) and in order to keep Paul from being lifted up with pride, God gave him a “thorn in the flesh” (verse 7). Paul prayed earnestly THREE TIMES for the Lord to remove the affliction (verse 8), but the Lord had something else in mind for Paul. Verse 9 states, “And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” The Lord chose NOT to remove the thorn in the flesh, but rather to give Paul the grace to bear it! Paul then went on to say, “Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” At that point Paul “quit praying” and “started praising the Lord” for His grace that enabled him to actually rejoice in his trial, knowing that the Lord would give him a special supply of grace that would strengthen him and give him the victory in the trial. (279.9) (DO)