Updated date:

Five Reasons for Surprise Answers to Prayer

MsDora, former teacher and Christian counselor presents practical Scriptural principles for joyful everyday living.

We pray in faith and believe for an answer, so why are we surprised when the answer comes?

Following are five interesting stories (all true except for the names) of people who were blown away by the answers to their prayers. In each case, the answers were outside the expectations of the petitioners. This teaches us that even when we expect the answers, the "how" is often beyond our wildest dreams.

1. God Changes the Person Not the Situation

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord." Isaiah 55:8

An immigrant family in America had fallen on hard times, but was determined to keep the children fed. Regardless of what other food items were missing, they always had bread, peanut butter and jelly.

One Sunday morning, the father realized that the peanut butter and jelly sandwich was the only thing left for him to eat. He moaned and groaned, and then prayed out loud.

“Lord, you know that I am a Jamaican, accustomed to my Sunday morning breakfast of ackee and salt fish. No grown Jamaican man can eat peanut butter and jelly. Would you please fix this?”

“The Lord fixed it in a surprising way,” said the man himself. “He gave this grown Jamaican man an appetite for peanut butter and jelly.”

2. God's Has A Plan Different Than Theirs

You can make many plans, but the LORD's purpose will prevail. (Proverbs 19:21 NLT)

The couple prayed about everything including their search for a house in Georgia. They prayed and searched for two years, and still had not found the house they envisioned. The husband was willing to forego some of his expectations, but the wife held out, waiting for God to grant them the desire of her heart. They were still looking when the man received a job promotion which took him to Florida.

After their first search for a house in Florida, the wife called back to her friend in Georgia. “No wonder we couldn’t find the house in Georgia,” she said. “The house is in Florida, and God brought us to it.”

3. God's Answer Is Too Precise

Sister Fanny's church after completion.  Photo used by permission.

Sister Fanny's church after completion. Photo used by permission.

As truly as I live, saith the LORD, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you. (Numbers 14: 28)

It seemed like forever that the church was raising funds for the new church building. For years, Sister Fanny gave willingly and consistently, but she was getting old and still there was no sign of beginning the project. Over and over in the weekly prayer meeting, she prayed “Heavenly Father, please grant me the joy of seeing the ground-breaking.”

Sister Fanny was overjoyed at the announcement that the date had been set for the ground-breaking. At last, the church building was on the way. She attended the ground-breaking ceremony, but was unaware that the very next ceremony on the site would be her funeral. Soon after they began building, she passed on; but the Lord had granted her request—“the joy of seeing the ground-breaking.”

Surprised at how literally God answered Sister Fanny’s prayers, her family decided that at the site where she experienced one of her greatest joys, it was the fittest place for her home-going ceremony.

4. God Answers Beyond Expectations

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us. (Ephesians 3: 20)

Grandmother Sarah Mae adopted five grandchildren after their mother died. At first, she managed financially with help from kind relatives and friends, but most of the helpers grew tired of helping. The little she received was insufficient and the grandmother became incapable of meeting the children’s basic needs.

She had one good friend, Martha who made loans as often as Sarah Mae asked. Soon it became a ritual: borrow in the middle of the month, pay at the end of the month and repeat the process the following month. Sarah Mae wanted a change in her burdensome situation and she prayed a desperate prayer.

“Lord, I am Your child doing my best to please you and to care for my grandchildren. There must be something drastic You can do to change this situation immediately; because as sure as You are God, I will never borrow again and these children must eat.”

It was time to borrow again and Sarah Mae kept on praying and believing. Before the end of the month, her faith was rewarded.

She received a letter from one of her adult grandchildren who live abroad. The letter read: “Usually, I send this money to my mother every month, and ask her to give you a few dollars. Since she has remarried, I will send you the entire amount every month, beginning this month.”

Sarah Mae received that monthly letter with financial help for the rest of her life.

5. The Answer Comes Sooner Than Expected

Before they call, I will answer.

Before they call, I will answer.

Before they call, I will answer. (Isaiah 65:24)

“How could it be the answer, when it was sent to me before I even prayed?” That was the big surprise for Mr. Jordan.

He received the answer to his prayer in a package which was postmarked the day before he prayed.

His prayer request was made on that day when rain was drizzling lightly as he left his house for his doctor’s appointment. His umbrella buckled when he tried to push it open, and he whispered a short prayer.

“Father God, this umbrella is gone and I trust You to supply me with another one.”

His grandson had seen one a few weeks earlier which reminded him of the old man. He purchased it and planned to mail it—which he did the day before the old man prayed.

Do We Recognize All the Answers?

These incidents of surprising answer to prayers may make us rethink our opinion about some of our prayers that we think have not been answered.

Sometimes, because of one of more of the attitudes reflected above, we may receive answers which we do not recognize.

We may smile sometimes when we realize that answers come come in ways that surprise us. Perhaps God smiles, too, when we express gratitude for the surprises we almost missed.

Scripture verses in this article are quoted from the King James Version (KJV) unless noted. otherwise.

Share Your Thoughts

© 2014 Dora Weithers

Comments

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on March 05, 2015:

Glad, you think so, Peg. I appreciate your comment.

Peg Cole from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on March 05, 2015:

Beautiful thoughts, Ms. Dora.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on February 17, 2015:

Emunah, you made me re-read the article. Answered prayers is a good topic for the start of the day. Thanks for your encouragement and support.

swilliams on February 16, 2015:

What a unique Hub Ms. Dora! I love the way you illustrated this wonderful message built on answered prayers through images. Very Well-Done! Voted up and Tweeted Out!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 25, 2014:

Thanks, Nell, for your affirmation. Somebody wrote that a wish might well be a prayer. Either way, the warning to word it wisely is appropriate. Thanks for your input.

Nell Rose from England on October 25, 2014:

Well you know what the say, be careful what you wish for, or in this case pray, always word it wisely, wonderful hub Ms. Dora, I have seen things happen too and was amazed!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 25, 2014:

Audrey, I think so too. They teach us to accept that God knows best. Thanks for your comment.

Audrey Howitt from California on October 24, 2014:

I love the first of these--this happens often I think!!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 20, 2014:

Teaches, thanks for loving and sharing. Have a great week!

Dianna Mendez on October 19, 2014:

Wow! I am so loving the truth of this message. It is definitely the way God works on prayer requests. I am sharing this with others.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 19, 2014:

Word, daily prayer is a good habit. You learn more about the nature and the goodness of God. Thanks for your input.

Al Wordlaw from Chicago on October 19, 2014:

Hi MsDora, This was exceptional! Praying daily is my thing. It's like, if I don't pray for the goodness of things then I won't receive them. Even if something was already and apparently in the mail a day or days before I prayed for an item; I would not have gotten that item if I hadn't prayed or it. You showed that if you don't pray for something, chances are you won't get it. Thank you for sharing my dear :-)

Patty Inglish MS from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on October 19, 2014:

@RonElFran - I've heard instruction to pray for exactly what we want and need and your example proves that we should do exactly that. What fun to read about your experience and see the proof, but I'm sorry you had to push the car!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 19, 2014:

Ron, that's funny and inspiring. Thank you for sharing.

Ronald E Franklin from Mechanicsburg, PA on October 18, 2014:

I really identify with your #3. Once when my car's gas tank was almost dry, I prayed to make it to the nearest gas station. That prayer was answered exactly. Because I prayed to get to the station rather than to the pump, I had to push the car to the pump after getting on the gas station lot.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 18, 2014:

Faith, I hear you. The surprise is also a sign that something about His answer is beyond our comprehension. Thanks for that observation.

Faith Reaper from southern USA on October 18, 2014:

Wonderful hub, MsDora, as always!

I know without a doubt He hears and He answers, and most times the answers come in His perfect timing, which is always best no matter what for us. He goes above and beyond what our little brains can even comprehend at times. Praise Him!

Up ++++ tweeting and pinning

God bless

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 18, 2014:

Manatita, thanks for your loving thoughts. Have a safe trip, and an altogether pleasant weekend!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 18, 2014:

Patty, looking forward to that! That's where the greatest surprises will be . "Eyes have not seen . . . 1 Corinthians 2: 9.

manatita44 from london on October 17, 2014:

Thank you, Dora. Nice jam and peanut. :) Off to Scotland. Have a great weekend and remembering your mom. Love and Light

Patty Inglish MS from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on October 17, 2014:

He can hug us in Heaven and we can hug each other then :)

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 17, 2014:

Thanks, Manatita. Your encouraging comments always mean much to me.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 17, 2014:

Yes, Sheila. I'm with you. Thank you for the affirmation.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 17, 2014:

Denise, thank you. Sharing experiences really helps us see God in different ways. Thanks for that observation.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 17, 2014:

Patty, I like to think that God smiles at our expressions of surprise. He probably wants to hug us in response. Thank you for your sweet comment.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 17, 2014:

Muhammad, I appreciate your comment. Your observations are very meaningful. Thank you.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 17, 2014:

Jo, happy to bring you a smile. Thanks for your feedback.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 17, 2014:

Frank, I like your comment. Thank you today and always.

manatita44 from london on October 17, 2014:

Beautiful stories affirming the necessity of prayer. Timely.

sheilamyers on October 17, 2014:

You did an excellent job covering the ways God answers prayers. It's so very true he often surprises us with the answer. I chose option #3 in your poll. It may be just me, but I think God will surprise us with the way he answers our prayers as a way to show us how awesome he really is.

Denise W Anderson from Bismarck, North Dakota on October 17, 2014:

It strengthens my faith to hear of stories like this. There have been many times in my life when God has answered my prayers in unexpected ways. He is definitely aware of our needs, even before we express them!

Patty Inglish MS from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on October 17, 2014:

Excellent Hub here!- rated, voted and voted in poll. Some of us believe, but when surprised by a good answer, we think, "Wow! God truly is real." I hope He is amused with our childlike awe.

muhammad abdullah javed on October 17, 2014:

Impressive MsDora. The prayers of humans and the answers of the Divine are just like day and night. Neither dusk nor the dawn surprises, but increases the belief that yes after darkness there is light and after shine there is darkness. The prayers are just a source to cope up with the light and darkness. When our Creator answers our prayers, the faith gets multiplied with happiness and trust. Thanks for a profound share.

Jo Alexis-Hagues from Lincolnshire, U.K on October 17, 2014:

MsDora, wonderful contemplation on the ways of the Lord, as the saying goes, "he may not always come when you call, but he is always right on time." I'm still smiling about the gentleman from Jamaica. Priceless!

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on October 17, 2014:

Msdora, your message is clear, soft and surprising... voted up and shared

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 17, 2014:

Mothers, thanks for reading and giving your feedback. I rejoice with you for your many experiences of answered prayer.

Mothers of Nations on October 17, 2014:

I thoroughly enjoyed this article. Perfect read for today. The Lord indeed answers in many ways, some of those which we may not immediately recognize.

Isaiah 65:24, my goodness how I've learned the truthfulness of that scripture - how many times over my life, when I still hasn't understood the Spirit the way I do now, the Lord answered my prayers many times, in many ways, and when I look back I clearly see the evidence.

I rejoice every day for His love. In every moment I'm grateful. Yes His ways & thoughts are higher than ours. When the scales are removed from our eyes we then truly see! :-) God bless you, Ms.Dora...

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 17, 2014:

Suzette, so glad you were inspired. Thanks for your affirmation.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 17, 2014:

Ann, often our thoughts are prayers; we don't always have to, or are able to express them. Thanks for sharing your opinion on the surprise element.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 17, 2014:

Bill, what an encouragement you are! Re-examining your prayers and their answers is a very worth exercise; it will strengthen your faith in God.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 17, 2014:

Laura, I think that paying attention to God's answers gives us a personal view to understanding him better. Sorry that you lost your son; glad that your faith in God remains.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 17, 2014:

Flourish, I am always amazed at God's timing. I share your joy (and surprise) at how God answered that prayer.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 17, 2014:

DDE, always grateful for your support. Thanks for your participation.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 17, 2014:

Bill, I love your spirit of submission. Thanks for your example of faith.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 17, 2014:

Eric, bless your godly heart! Cry all you want to; God understands tears and I'm sure you make them look good on you.

Suzette Walker from Taos, NM on October 17, 2014:

What an interesting, amazing and inspirational article. Yes, God works in mysterious ways and answers our prayers in ways we never expect. Thanks so much for sharing this with us.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 17, 2014:

Jackie I couldn't agree more: "So much better that our own dreams were." Thank you for your input.

Ann Carr from SW England on October 17, 2014:

It is amazing when, even when the prayer is more of a casual thought, our thoughts can be answered. I am always surprised but take it as a reminder that we are being taken care of. Great hub! Ann

William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA on October 17, 2014:

Hi MsDora,

I love the ideas you come up with for hubs. Great read with a lot of thought provoking material. Now I have to go back and re-examine my prayers. Thanks for the eye-opener and the challenge!

Laura L Scotty from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on October 17, 2014:

I always warn people to be careful in what they ask from God. I wanted to see my grandchildren who were living in England while my son was on his last tour of duty before his retirement. They came home two years earlier than expected without their Dad. He was killed and followed to his final resting place. So be careful how you word your prayers. I didn't ask to visit in England I just wanted to see my grandchildren again. God answers all prayers, just not in the way you expect sometimes.

FlourishAnyway from USA on October 17, 2014:

A very enjoyable read, MsDora. My car was starting to get some age on it and I had just taken it in for a safety recall. I was starting to wonder when I should get a new car and how I would manage that major expense. Then my husband won a brand new car in a charity raffle he had forgotten entering. It was delightful and unexpected, and it certainly answered a dilemma I had been facing. I've never had anything like that happen. The timing was perfect.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on October 17, 2014:

Impressive and so true! I voted number two always have faith as usual you bring up the interesting thoughts about GOD. Voted up!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on October 16, 2014:

Beautiful reflections, Dora. Who am I to question the ways of the Lord?

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on October 16, 2014:

Wonderful and so uplifting. Perhaps it is age or maybe all my answered prayers. Amazing Grace is always bestowed on me. Thank you for this beautiful hub, do not tell anyone I cried while reading it.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on October 16, 2014:

Beautiful writing, Dora. As we look back we can see so many things God answered in His way and so much better that our own dreams were. How much sweeter life would be if we could just relax and trust Him in all things.

^+