First of all, it is important to recognize that there are many reasons why prayers “seem” to be unanswered, or at least not answered in the way we would wish or expect:
- The most common reason is that we have already determined what the answer we want to hear or see is before we actually ask God. In other words, we make the decision about the answer rather than waiting on the answer God wishes to give…we don’t ask God to do what He feels is best in our situation or someone else’s.
- We may ask God with wrong motives…usually because we selfishly want something to benefit ourselves or those we know. Perhaps our prayer may be completely counter to God’s will and purposes. It is important for us to realize that every prayer we pray should bring honor and glory to God alone!
- If we are intentionally living sinful lives, God is under no obligation to answer our prayers (Psalm 66:18). We need to check our lives carefully before coming to God with our requests and needs. If there is sinfulness, we need to confess it before Him because He promises to forgive us (1 John 1:9)…opening the way to His response to our prayer lives! This is the grace-filled life with God.
- Sometimes we ask in a half-hearted way rather than praying with faith and power, which can make our prayer ineffective and weak…much like a medical treatment that fails because it isn’t the correct dosage or even the correct treatment. The prayer of desperation cries out to God because He is the only place to go when we are in need.
- Sometimes what we are asking infringes upon the needs of another person, or pits us against them – even unintentionally. It’s like two parents on opposing sides rooting for the team their child plays for to win. This is asking God to take sides instead of asking forHis best in a situation. God knows what we…and our children need even more than we do! He will help us to handle loss, pain and struggle when it comes, just as He will rejoice with us in celebration and victory.
- Our “bad” circumstances are not caused by God. We live in a fallen world where “bad things happen to good people.” Recognizing that God, through His life in us, can take our pain, disappointments and roadblocks into His heart and give us comfort, reassurance and victory in the midst of difficulty and struggle will keep us filled with hope, peace and strength. He will sometimes allow the circumstances in our lives to lead us to something better even though we may not see it at the time. He will also utilize anything the enemy attempts to do to us in ways that will be used for good – even when we may not perceive it – if we will trust Him enough to ask (Matthew 7:9-11). Too many people blame God, and walk away from their faith because they feel their prayers were not heard, were not answered, or that their prayers were not answered as they expected…because they do not understand this truth about God… He wants to give us His very best. He is always present in the believer. He understands our suffering because He suffered and died on the cross. The ultimate victory is eternal life through Jesus Christ…forever…no matter what this life may bring.
- If we are not careful, we can miss God’s answer when it comes. It is important to be watchful in our waiting…and because the Father wants to give us His best to strengthen our walk with Him, we must be prepared to yield ourselves to His answers – even if they seem to go against what we think that answer should be. Sometimes our answers will not come in our lifetime, but in His eternal purposes we will one day see how He answered every prayer we have ever prayed…even if the answer is counter to our expectations or desires. One day it will be amazing to see how God’s hand worked in our lives and situations for His glory!
“The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need” (Matthew 6:7-8 MSG).
Kim’s passion is to see God’s people recognize that prayer is a creative, continual moment by moment lifestyle as we align our hearts with the plans and purposes of God for His glory and the sake of His kingdom. Her ministry involves writing, teaching and consulting. She also compiles and edits HPM’s free daily devotional, Connection! and blogs regularly on the HPM website).
Kim graduated from Whitman College with teaching credentials and a BA in Psychology. She has a Masters degree in Spiritual Formation and Leadership from Spring Arbor University.