God hears our prayers. And there are many different kinds of prayers; intercession, thanksgiving, repentance, asking for needs, spiritual warfare prayers. God wants us to come to Him with our needs and desires. But especially when your prayers seem to go unanswered, it’s often helpful to back up and ask questions. And I’ve discovered some great questions God loves to answer.

Remember that God is not a heavenly vending machine; put in a prayer, get out a blessing. He’s too big for that. He created you; he knows how you function best and what you need. (Matthew 6:32) He sees everything – where you’ve come from and where you are now, and all the people and circumstances around you. He knows the future – your future – just as completely as He knows the past. His plans are already made, and they are good.

You and I don’t have to go around anxious and frustrated, trying desperately to figure out what to do or working exhaustedly to make something happen. We have access to the most powerful, wisest, kindest, and most generous Person in the universe. Trusting Him actually makes more sense than anything else we could possibly do.

So here are two important questions to ask Jesus that will help you do just that.

  1. Jesus, What’s Going On Here?

Your emotions cloud the picture so often. Your anger or fear or frustration or desire can so easily give you tunnel vision and keep you from seeing the true picture. Especially when you can’t figure out the cause of your angst, you very much need God’s perspective on things.

Whether it’s your own personal situation or some broader challenge, just ask Jesus, “What’s going on here?” While you will not be able to understand everything as God does, the Holy Spirit will gladly help you see more than you can see now. (James 1:5)

You will need to get quiet in order to hear His response. God rarely shouts over the cacophony of sound in your head; He waits until your mind becomes calm and then speaks in that “still, small voice.”

“What’s going on” may be that you are facing some results of trauma, brokenness, and wounds you’ve experienced that need healing. Perhaps you’ve been trying to manipulate and control things that are not within your control (such as other people!). You may be experiencing the consequences of your own limited mindset, false beliefs, or sinful behavior. Or God may be desiring to stretch and mature you for a greater opportunity to come.

And it may also be that the situation is broader. Perhaps you’ve made agreements with the enemy that need to be broken. This may be a matter of direct spiritual warfare. The people involved in the problem may be immature, or truly evil and toxic. Or you may be simply experiencing the fallout of living in a sinful messed-up world.

Those are only a few categories that Jesus may bring to your understanding. Take the time to ask, and then to stay still long enough to listen for His answer.

  1. Jesus, What do You Want ME to Do Next?

This question is just as important as the first. Sometimes the answer is obvious; sometimes it takes further prayerful listening. Don’t automatically assume that what Jesus wants you to do is “fix it.” You will need to approach this question with an open heart, willing to hear what He says, whatever that is.

Jesus may want you to do nothing! Nothing active, that is. Sometimes He needs you to get your grubby hands off someone or some situation so He can do His work. That may mean thinking and speaking positively about some seemingly impossible situation while remaining alert for what God is doing.

Jesus may need to change something in you before something in your circumstances can change. You may need to repent of your own thoughts or actions, do some hard work of forgiveness, or learn some new mental or people skills. You may need to actively invest in the work of healing, or perhaps engage in some direct spiritual warfare.

When it comes to relationships such as marriage, this question can look like, “Jesus, who do You need me to be to my spouse in this season?” That might look like learning to forgive, having hard conversations, setting difficult boundaries, taking your hands off!, or pursuing intimacy in the way your spouse needs. You will only know what is needed by seeking God’s perspective.

This also applies to broader issues such as those involving church, culture, or society. God does not ask you to do everything, but He does ask you to do something. Don’t let your outrage run ahead of seeking God’s perspective on what He wants you to do.

What Comes Next?

When He tells you to do something, just do it! (Nike has nothing on followers of Jesus! See John 2:5)

Getting input from other godly, informed, or professional sources is wise. But remember that the best way to live is before an audience of One. It’s His opinion that truly counts.

You will be tempted to let fear, anger, desire, imposter syndrome, or any number of other things stop you from doing what He tells you to do. You may be tempted to try to fix things yourself when God has not asked you to; that could end up in an Ishmael. Or you will shrink back from something that seems impossible when He is asking you to walk on water.

That’s why, when wrestling with internal or external problems, it’s worth taking the dedicated quiet time with God to seek His answers to these questions:

  • Jesus, what’s going on here?
  • Jesus, what do You want me to do next?

Once you hear His answers and follow through, He makes Himself responsible for the results.

Your Turn: Have you rushed into trying to fix something and been frustrated by the lack of results? Have you felt mysteriously powerless to address something you know needs to be addressed? How can asking Jesus these questions help you see clearly, and take wise action? Leave a comment below.

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  • When you feel stuck, frustrated, or mysteriously powerless, it’s often best to stop and ask questions. Jesus, what’s going on here? And what do You want ME to do next?  Tweet that.

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