Q. How does God decide which prayers to answer? I’m sure lots of them run against one another. For example, let’s say there’s a 50% chance of rain in the forecast for the weekend. A local farmer sees this and prays desperately for rain. It’s been hot all summer long and his crops are wilting. If he doesn’t get this downpour, the harvest will be a failure and he’ll have to sell his farm, which is his only livelihood.
At the same time, a local family sees the forecast and gets worried. They have finally managed to organize a long-overdue reunion, including relatives they probably won’t see again due to age and health issues. This family prays desperately that the rain will hold off so the reunion will take place. I’m sure opposing prayers take place all the time. How does God choose which ones to grant?
A. The problem with hypothetical situations like the one you’ve constructed here is they’re based on man’s limited vision and fail to account for God’s unlimited vision. For example, what if the farmer was out of God’s will for him and had gone into farming completely on his own? What if God has been trying for years to persuade this man to turn back to Him and be blessed? And what if the Lord has foreseen a tragic car accident that will wipe out several members of this family unless the reunion is canceled?
My point is there is no way for us to evaluate God’s actions because we can’t share His perspective. Romans 8:28 tells us God is working everything together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. This means He is capable of blessing both the farmer and the family, and is not constrained by what we see as “either/or” circumstances. The fact that we often don’t see this promise at work in our lives is due to our limited perspective. But with faith we can know that it’s true.