Mission Blog: When Prayers Go Unanswered
When God says No!
Have you ever prayed for something, and your prayer went unanswered? How did that make you feel? Perhaps you questioned God or lost complete faith in prayer?
This is a common reaction when prayers go unanswered, but what if we tried to figure out instead what it means when God says no? What if God is trying to teach us something when we don’t get what we ask for? There could be a very good reason for His no.
The Culture of Instant Gratification
We live in a culture of instant gratification and mostly treat God like an ATM or fast-food outlet. We expect that as soon as we ask God for something, our prayer will instantly be answered like money popping out of the ATM or grabbing food quickly on the go.
God is not an ATM, nor is God’s time our time. Instead, God, like a loving and wise parent, only gives us what we ask for if it is good for us. This is often hard to swallow because often, we don’t take rejection well, and instead will try to solve the problem on our own. We are used to getting what we want when we want it and give up if the narrative turns out differently.
Humility is Key
When we ask God for something, we must approach Him with humility. Our prayers must not be demands from God, like a spoilt child expecting everything they ask for. Think about how often your parents refused a request from you and whether you liked it or not. No meant no! You might have sulked in your room or refused to speak to your parents (in a show of anger), but for the most part, that was that, and life went on. We need to keep in mind that it is our task to serve God and not the other way round.
You can’t have everything
God is our loving Father and always knows what is best for us. Like a loving father, God will only give us what will prosper us. ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.’ Jeremiah 29:11.
Like children, our requests are sometimes unreasonable, and God knows that if He gives in to our requests, some harm may come our way. What earthly father allows his children to have everything they demand when he knows that it will do them more harm than good? Sometimes, our Father will indulge our unreasonable requests but, in His wisdom, refuse to answer our demands the way we want because He loves us deeply and only desires what is good for us. Even Jesus did not get everything he wanted. He, too, asked God to spare Him from His suffering and death the night before he died and suffered for us, but with all humility, Jesus surrendered completely to the will of God, trusting in His infinite love and wisdom.
God has a better plan
When we look back on our lives, we see that we should thank God for unanswered prayers. Maybe we now know the car, job, or house for which we once prayed would not have worked out so well. We don’t always know what God has planned for us, and neither can we know what misfortunes He is protecting us from if He answered our prayers. We need to trust in His wisdom and that He has a better plan for us.
Patience is a virtue
How often have we heard the adage that patience is a virtue? What if God is busy listening to another’s more urgent request at the same time we are demanding our prayer be answered? If we are not patient and give up before God has even had a chance to hear us out, we may find that by the time He is ready to hear our prayer, we have already turned our backs on Him.
Don’t give up when your prayers go unanswered. Instead, practice gratitude, giving thanks to God for all we have been gifted and for the prayers already answered. When we approach our Heavenly Father with complete humility, surrendering totally to His will, wonderous things await us.
‘With thankful hearts, offer up your prayers and requests to God. Then, because you belong to Christ Jesus, God will bless you with peace that no one can completely understand’ (Philippians 4:5-7).
Keep Praying! God does eventually answer your prayers.
Jilly Landers | Director of Mission