Q: I’ve prayed and even asked others to pray that I would overcome a certain personal weakness, but I never seem to be able to change. Why doesn’t Jesus answer my prayers and change me?
A: Whenever any of us recognize a personal problem and pray for the needed change, we are changed. “This is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him” (1 John 5:14-15).
So if you’ve prayed for a change, you have the victory. By the miracle-working power of the Holy Spirit and through the promises of God’s Word, you become the new person you’ve asked the Lord to make you (2 Corinthians 5:17; 2 Peter 1:4). The cocoon has been opened and the new person has come forth, ready to grow in the spirit. This is the first step–believing in the change.
The Word tells us that faith is the victory: “This is the victory that has overcome the world”–and all our problems–“even our faith” (1 John 5:4). The Lord has given you the victory. You just have to accept it by faith and work to strengthen the “new you.”
You get the victory the instant you confess you need the Lord’s help, claim His promises in His Word, and ask for it in prayer. But if you later say, “It must have been a false victory. The Lord must not have answered, because I’m still the same old mess I was,” then you’re surrendering the victory. As long as you hold on to it by faith and keep thanking the Lord for it, it’s yours.
That’s the key to the victory: believing that you have it because He promised it to you–and then acting like you believe it. Your feelings don’t have anything to do with it! The victory is yours by faith, even when you don’t feel like you have it. So keep praising and thanking the Lord for it, and soon you’ll see concrete results.
For the Lord to help you change the way you react in certain situations, He has to change your thought patterns. So when you asked the Lord to change you, in effect you asked Him to rewire you. That nearly always takes time and some effort on your part.
The Lord does most of it, of course, but your part is to put into practice what you know you need to do to form the right habits. That starts with resisting your past ways of thinking, and the best way to do that is with the Word. The Word is what bridges the gap and makes the connection with the new set of thought patterns the Lord has for you. That’s why it’s so important to read, study, and even memorize the Word.
Then once you are full of the Word, you must take the stand of faith by claiming the Lord’s promises and refusing to believe the Devil’s doubts–and you must do this over and over and over, every time you catch yourself slipping into your old thought patterns or old ways.
The more times you do this, the stronger your new thought and behavioral patterns will become, the more you will be “transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2), and the more evident it will be that the Lord has changed you!