Unanswered Prayers


God answers prayers. Of course, He does! This is why we bring our petitions to the Lord. Yes, through prayer we grow closer to the Lord, growing more intimate in our relationship with Him. But let’s be honest, there are times when our prayers seem to go unanswered. There is an unspoken expectation that God will answer our prayers, the way we want and when we want. We know He is a good God. He is a God of love. He is a God who knows how to give good gifts to His children. We know all of this. Still, most of us have little difficulty thinking back to a moment when our prayers went unanswered.

Dreams die. Friends and family remain unhealed. We still don’t know what direction to take. Depression lingers. Betrayal comes. Confusion refuses to loosen its grip on our mind. Doubts remain.

Can we trust God even when our prayers remain unanswered?

We want to say YES, but we don’t always FEEL like saying YES.

Once I prayed for six months for clear direction, never to find it. It wasn’t until I took action, stepped out into an uncertain future that I found the answer I’d been looking for.

Another time I spent three months praying about something and moving towards a dream I’d had only for it to all fall apart, despite what I thought God was speaking to me.

It’s so much easier when His voice is clear and His presence near, but that isn’t always the case.

I’m reminded of two sisters who were praying for their sick brother. They called out for Jesus to heal him and their prayers seemed to go unanswered. The story is found in John chapter 11. The sisters were Mary and Martha and their brother was Lazarus. Jesus received the message from the sisters to come at once, yet he delayed. He could have arrived before Lazarus died, but he didn’t.

Jesus chose to allow Lazarus to die.

We know this is a story of resurrection, but imagine how Mary and Martha must have felt during that time period. Jesus had let them down. They were hurt, in deep mourning. They weren’t given advance notice that resurrection was coming. That would have been much easier on them.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if we were given a list of explanations every time we felt God delaying? Every time things worked out against our expectations. We don’t have to question, because God just tells us plainly! If only that was how things worked!

I guess we wouldn’t have much need for faith if we never had doubt.

So what is my faith in? Is my faith in the answered prayer or is my faith in God, who may choose to give a clear answer or who may not? Another way to ask that question would be is Jesus really enough? That’s where my faith is. Jesus, who claimed to be God. Jesus, who said He was going to die and then be resurrected. Jesus who then did exactly what He said. Jesus, whose own brothers proclaimed, “He is God.”

Jesus is my confidence, whether my prayers are answered or not.

Jesus, who sees all things, past, present, and future.

Yes, we often forget how limited our view is. Our perspective is confined by our present circumstances, emotions, and knowledge. God does not hold such limitations.

This is why I often remind myself of the wisdom found in Proverbs three.

Proverbs 3:5 (NLT) Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.

I may lack understanding, my prayers may seem unanswered, but I am fully convinced that God is still God. When I lack answers, He does not. When I lack direction, He does not. When I am confused, He is not.

Regardless of what seems to be happening in life right now, God is still trustworthy.

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