Unanswered prayers. Sometimes it seems as though we have more prayers that go unanswered, or aren’t answered the way we wanted, than we do prayers that are answered exactly as we wished. Why? Does God not care? Is He too busy to hear us? Is He unable to figure out how to answer our prayers? Well, short answers: No, no, and no. So why aren’t our prayers answered the way we hoped? This was a topic discussed at my church recently.
Matthew 7: 9-11 says, “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”
Our God is a loving Father. We have the promise that He hears us (1 John 5:14), He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7), and He always answers our prayers.
But it might not be the way we like.
So why doesn’t God answer our prayers the way we want? We all know people who faithfully pray for weeks, months, even years, and it seems as though they’re requests have fallen on deaf ears. The couple facing infertility and praying for a baby. The parents who just found out their child has cancer. The family facing bankruptcy. Surely God would want this faithful couple to have a baby! Of course He would want to heal a child of cancer! No doubt He doesn’t want to see this family lose their home. So what’s going on?
There are 3 things to remember:
1. The Request May Not Be Part of God’s Good Plans
God has a perspective that is far beyond what any of us could ever comprehend. Isaiah 55: 8-9 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
We can trust that God has a plan for us that is far better than the one we have for ourselves.
2. God’s Timetable is Always Better Than Our Limited Perspective
The story of Lazarus is a popular one. We see that a close friend of Jesus’ is sick, and yet rather than go to him, Jesus stays where He is. When Jesus does finally make the trip, it’s too late. Lazarus is dead. Lazarus’ sister, Martha, says “Lord if you would have been here, my brother would not have died.” Martha had a limited perspective. She couldn’t see the big picture that Jesus could. She didn’t understand how Christ was going to use the death of her brother in a powerful way.
I have had two miscarriages. I know first-hand what it’s like to start out praising God for the new life being formed and to pray for His protection on that little one, only to have those prayers turn to groanings when the baby no longer had a heartbeat. Why would God give me a child and then take him away like that? Am I being punished? Am I not a good enough mom? No. God simply can see the bigger picture better than I can. If I wouldn’t have experienced those miscarriages, I wouldn’t have Jana or Rafe with me today. I am excited to see how God uses all of my children for His glory, but especially those two. My babies who wouldn’t even be here if it wasn’t for the pain I went through prior to their existence. And, because I’ve experienced pain like that first-hand I can empathize more with those facing the same struggles. I do not view pregnancy and children as a burden or as something that I’m entitled to, but rather as a gift from God. A blessing that He chooses to give at a certain time and for a certain purpose. Sometimes His ways aren’t made clear to us right away, but we can know that He has a good plan far better than our own.
3. There May Be Growth That God Wants To Bring To My Life
In 2 Corinthians, Paul talks about a “thorn in my flesh”. He pleads several times for God to take it away. It seems as though God’s answer was “No”. We read this in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
While you are waiting for God’s perfect timing, don’t forget that He is using that time to develop a new character trait in you. Maybe it’s patience, or trust. Maybe it’s endurance or love for others. Just as the potter has to heat the clay in order for it to hold its shape, so God has to put us through trials in order for something beautiful to be created.
So keep praying. Pray without ceasing. Maybe start a prayer journal, or find a block of time each day to talk to God. I know for us moms it can be difficult to finish a thought, let alone pray. We are being pulled in so many directions and there are so many people that rely on us. Recently I’ve been doing my devotions and prayer time at 4:00 in the morning when I’m nursing Rafe. It may not seem like an opportune time, as I’m sitting there half asleep trying to read the Bible or talk to God, but it has brought me so much peace and comfort.
Trust in the promise that God loves you and wants to give you good gifts. Accept that His ways are higher than yours, and that His timing is perfect. And if you have a prayer request, I would love to pray alongside you. You can send any requests to: firstname.lastname@example.org