Unanswered prayers: a catchy title for my blog. Actually, it is a catchy misleading phrase.
The truth is there are no unanswered prayers. God always answers prayers, in His timing and according to His purpose. He answers yes, no or wait.
I know I am supposed to write about this topic; honestly, I’m just not sure what I am supposed to write. All day thoughts have been darting in and out of my mind, and I have struggled to lasso them…to bring them into the corral and figure out what lesson I am saddle and learn. So, I guess I will just start...
While there are many, I ponder a few of the times I prayed and God answered no.
I prayed for children. I prayed for the restoration of my marriage. I prayed I would remarry soon after my divorce. I prayed for a specific job. I prayed to be removed from a difficult work environment. I prayed for the healing of a friend on this side of Heaven.
In hindsight, although it certainly didn’t feel like it at the time, every single no was for my good and required to accomplish God’s perfect plan for my life.
Then there is the dreaded “wait.” The wait for His yes; the wait for His no.
I think it is that little four-letter word that leads someone to conclude God did not answer their prayer. In our culture of instant gratification, we expect God to answer yes and we expect Him to answer yes immediately. We don’t want no for an answer; and we certainly don’t want to wait for an answer.
Up until recently, I didn’t wait well. In my desire to put feet to my faith and walk it out, I have improved in my waiting. I go into my watchtower (Habakkuk 2) and eagerly wait to see what the Lord is going to do. I trust that He is continually and actively at work in my life. I trust Him with His timing and His answer.
When I look back on some of the times I have had to wait, almost every time, I was the reason for the delay. The Lord had to “do a work” in me. He had to change my heart. He had to refine my attitude. He withheld answers until I was obedient. He waited until I was willingly surrendered. He waited until I prayed with the right motive. He waited until I was still and would hear His still small voice.
Currently, there are some big issues that I am praying about and, since I haven’t gotten my answer, I know I am to wait. Yet in my wait, I am in good company. The Word of God records the lives of countless men and women who waited for God to answer. A few that come to mind:
The Lord told Abraham he would be the “father of nations.” Yet he was 100 and his wife, Sarah, was 99 when she finally conceived. (Genesis 17)
Joseph, wrongly accused, spent years in prison. (Genesis 40)
It took 40 years for the Israelites to enter the Promised Land. (Joshua 1).
Year after year, in deep anguish, Hannah prayed for children. (1 Samuel 1)
God’s chosen people, the Jews, who lived in Old Testament days were all waiting for the coming Messiah. (Genesis - Malachi)
Some prayers, in God’s infinite wisdom, will not be answered on this side of eternity.
And then there are the prayers which God sees fit to answer with a yes! From the small daily petitions sent up in the moment, to the big tear-filled, heart-spent, on-my-knees prayers…oh, the joy when God says yes! Literally, there are too many for me to count!
Now about prayer.
In the Bible, there are over 600 references to prayer. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, document the instances of Jesus Himself praying during His earthly ministry, including on the Cross (Luke 23:34). In Matthew 6: 9-13, Jesus teaches us how to pray. We are to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). We are to pray about everything (Philippians 4:6-8). We are to pray without doubt (James 1:6). We are to pray in secret (Matthew 6:5-6).
So if the Bible repeatedly instructs us to pray, teaches us how to pray, and expects us to pray, then we can be certain God will answer. He loves us too much to let our prayers go answered.
Unanswered prayers. Unlike a popular catchy country song, I thank God for answered prayers.
Yes. No. Or wait.
Amen and Amen.
This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will,
He hears us. ~ 1 John 5:14