I am always surprised when I find people who believe that if you have any doubts about something God will never answer your prayers. I understand from where this idea originates, but it is not completely accurate to apply it to all prayer all the time. If we doubt we may not be able to move mountains, but that does not mean our prayers won’t be answered.
Look at this passage in Acts:
When Peter knocked at the outer gate, a female servant named Rhoda went to answer. She was so overcome with joy when she recognized Peter’s voice that she didn’t open the gate. Instead, she ran back in and announced that Peter was standing at the gate. “You’ve lost your mind!” they responded. She stuck by her story with such determination that they began to say, “It must be his guardian angel.” Meanwhile, Peter remained outside, knocking at the gate. They finally opened the gate and saw him there, and they were astounded.
I need to give some context here. Herod had arrested James, the brother of John, and had him killed. Then he arrested Peter in order to have him killed. In 12:5 Luke wrote, “While Peter was held in prison, the church offered earnest prayer to God for him.” I am certain they also did this for James. Unlike what happened to James, though, an angel frees Peter. Then he runs to John Mark’s house where “many believers had gathered and were praying” (12:12) no doubt for his release, just as they had done for James.
And when Peter shows up…they don’t believe it!
Most definitely this had to do with what had happened to James. Unfortunately we may never know why God seems to answer some prayers the way we want and others he does not. Yet that does not mean we need to simply go through the motions with prayer, never expecting God to act.
In this instance God responded to the people’s prayers in a mighty way, and yet they were convinced that it could not happen. They were convinced so much so that they argued with Rhoda not once but twice about whether or not Peter (the one for whom they were praying at that moment) could have been released and safe.
When we pray we need to believe that God can answer. And even if we do not really believe he can answer the prayer request we are making (because of past prayers that seem to be unanswered), we need to be prepared if God does, in fact, answer the prayer. God will work with what ever amount of faith we have. This story is proof of that fact. But let us strive to have enough faith to accept God’s answers to prayer, even when they are positive!