Last Sunday, the sermon in my church was on the topic of unanswered prayer. A tough subject, to be sure, and not the most popular. The whole notion of God not answering our prayers is troubling. In fact, it’s one of the leading complaints used by non-believers. You’ve heard variations of this:
If God loves you, why didn’t He give you what you asked for?
Well if God is good, why does He let people suffer?
Where is God while all this terrible stuff is happening in the world?
Valid questions – maybe you’ve asked them yourself at one time or another. However it’s worded, it comes from the same place. As humans, we want to feel secure and settled, and unanswered prayer works directly against that goal.
I have to admit, I struggled through the sermon, because it hit a little too close to home for me. I’ve written before about some of the challenges I’m facing now, especially the RA. And so far, there hasn’t been healing for this disease, or resolution in other situations. I’ve reached a sort of impass about it.
Prayer used to seem like a simple thing to me. As a young believer, I somehow got it into my head that if a prayer request seemed reasonable and good, then it would eventually get answered. I found that notion comforting and positive. But like all “baby Christian” beliefs, it wasn’t accurate. And God knew I needed to be set straight.
Over the last few years, I’ve seen lots of examples of good prayers that have gone unanswered. Prayers for healing, for salvation, for rescue – made by godly people with godly characters. And I’ve watched as they waited. Well, now it’s my turn, and there’s a part of me that’s wishing for the good old days of ignorance.
I’ve been exploring the truth that there are no guarantees my prayers will get answered. I may study God’s Word and think I’m praying the way He wants me to, with the right motives, and still not receive a yes from Him. I’ll share more about that journey in my next blog. Meantime, here’s a teaser and a promise for you:
“Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.”