Many people ask me why they are not seeing the answers to their prayers, some having waited for years, and still no visible results are forthcoming.  I’d like to say I have all the answers, but that isn’t the case, however there are clear instructions in the Bible that we need to pay close attention to, or else we will miss it.  Let’s have a look at Philippians 4:4-8;
Php 4:4  Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.
Php 4:5  Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.
Php 4:6  Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
Php 4:7  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Php 4:8  Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
    It’s pretty obvious to me that we are missing an important part of the message Paul is writing to us.  He suffered many persecutions at the hands of the religious as well as those who weren’t.  Yet, as he suffered, he said REJOICE!  How can we rejoice if everything is going wrong?  How can we rejoice when we think God has left the building and left no forwarding address?  Did Paul find the secret to getting his prayers answered, while the rest of us suffer and wait (not too patiently)?  Apparently so.
    Way back in time, King David wrote something that has always stuck with me, no matter what circumstances I’m in, and that is Psalm 100. Pay close attention or you’ll miss it:
Psa 100:1 Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.
Psa 100:2  Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
Psa 100:3  Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Psa 100:4  Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
Psa 100:5  For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.
     Most of us are making noise unto the LORD, alright, but it isn’t very joyful!  David faced a trial or two in his life, yet his was an attitude of praise for God.  And yes, some of those trials were caused by his own misdeeds, yet the Lord was gracious unto him.  Why?  Because David was always praising God no matter what he faced.  Most of us praise God if we think there’s something in it for us.  I said MOST OF US PRAISE GOD IF WE THINK THERE’S SOMETHING IN IT FOR US,  but otherwise, we spend most of our “GOD” time asking for stuff.  By the way we treat God, you’d think WE are the masters, and HE is our servant. 
 David said in this Psalm; Serve the LORD with gladness.  Yeah, Lord, I’ll sure be glad when this trial is over, how long are you going to make me wait?  There’s just something that rubs us the wrong way when we hear the words “Serve the LORD…..”
 Why?  Because we want to BE served.  That’s just the lust of our flesh speaking, or rather, yelling.  The cold hard truth is, many people look at God as a genie in a bottle that they can call upon to get Him to do what they want, when they want it.  Oh God, do this for me, do that for me.  And after He comes to our rescue, we as much as say OK, God, you can go away and get back in your bottle now, and I’ll call you if I need you.  How quickly we forget HE is GOD, and WE are His servants, and not the other way around, or at least that’s how it’s supposed to be.
   Come before His presence with singing.  Right….I’ll sing when this situation is fixed.  Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves.  Oh Lord, why did you make me this way?  My body doesn’t work the way it should, and I’m hurting and disabled, and YOUR WORD promises to fix me!  Didn’t you send a recall letter to get me in and fix me?  Yes, my child, but you didn’t open the letter…it was the one that started out “Rejoice….” But you ignored it and threw it away and complained you aren’t getting any help….
 We are His people, and the sheep of His pasture. 
Sheep of His pasture…ever notice how dumb sheep are?  They have an uncanny ability to find every hole in the fence, every briar bush, stray from where they belong, and get in every mess around, and if there isn’t one, they will create it….yep, pretty accurate description of “His people”, isn’t it?
    Here’s where we find relief, pay attention:  Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise…Before you’ll ever get into the Throne Room, you’ll need to enter through the gate, and you’d better be thankful for that gate.  Otherwise you’ll be climbing over a very high wall, maybe even break a nail in the process, and we wouldn’t want that, would we?  Thanksgiving?  With all that I’m going through right now, you want me to be thankful??  Hey, I didn’t write it, David did, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  Get thankful, or forget it. And you’d better be thankful all the way to His courts, where you start praising Him, for letting you in the gate in the first place.  He didn’t have to, you know.  He could have left you outside to suffer all alone, like the Lord Jesus did on the cross.  You do remember that part, don’t you?
    Be thankful unto Him, and bless His name.  Why?  Because, first off, you’re in the presence of God, and He is worthy of all glory, honor, praise, might, power, dominion and wisdom forever.  But in case that isn’t reason enough, we should be thankful because He is willing to help us in the first place.  Why is that?  Well, David summed it up like this: For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.
    The Lord reminded me of a prayer request that came in the mail to me several years ago.  It was very lengthy, and this person was asking for this and that, and it was a Xerox copy, which meant they mailed it to several other people to pray over as well.  As I was on my knees about to pray, the Lord told me it didn’t have any postage, to throw it in the trash.  I said, Lord, I’ve never thrown anyone’s prayer request in the trash, why would you want me to do that?  Again, He said it didn’t have any postage.  I just had to know what He meant by that.  He said, THERE WAS NO THANKSGIVING AND PRAISE.  Right then I understood what He meant:  no thanksgiving, no praise, no delivery of the letter (prayer). 
    David and Paul are speaking to us right now, clearly telling us how to have our prayers answered.  But there’s something more I haven’t mentioned yet.  Getting our prayers answered is a good thing, but there’s something even better, and that is having a RELATIONSHIP with God, where He calls freely on you, and you call freely on Him.  There’s a song that says, “God calls me friend.”  Does He?  Can He?  Or is He only there to serve you?  Friendship and love goes two ways, you know.  I’d sure like to be able to say God calls me “friend”.  He called Abraham His friend.  But there’s something better, something closer than a friend, and that is a blood relationship that comes from being “family”. Of course, I realize many people have “family” but they’re not “friends” with their family.  No, I’m not talking about that kind of family.  I’m talking about the kind of family where the members are overjoyed to be in each other’s presence.
    When you’re in love with God, not seeking His hand, but seeking His face, you will soon learn something.  When you seek God with all your heart, He is easy to find.  And where God’s face shows up, His hand cannot be not far behind.  When God hears thanksgiving and praise  unto His name going up, He stops in to check it out every time.  So the next time you’re wondering why your prayers are seemingly not being answered, check for the postage.