I love instant answers to prayer. But have you noticed the big prayers, the ones you care about most, take the longest to answer? Unanswered prayer can shake our faith. We feel like stepchildren. If God loves me why doesn’t He hear my prayers?
Perhaps God answers the moment we ask. We just can’t see the answer. Or maybe my prayer is tied to a bigger story.
In Luke 1:13, Zacharias was stunned when an angel announced his prayer had been heard. “Elizabeth’s going to have a son!” Zacharias scratched his head. He’d prayed for a son—decades ago!
He and Elizabeth had prayed for a baby. God needed a forerunner to His Son. To fulfill their prayer and His plan, Elizabeth had to wait—and wait—until young Mary was old enough to become the mother of Jesus. Of course, Elizabeth didn’t know why her prayer wasn’t answered. Before the angel’s announcement do you think Elizabeth felt special? My guess is she felt neglected.
Could the answer to your prayer be connected to others’ stories? Could it be God has heard your prayer, but the timing is not right? Perhaps, the spouse you’ve prayed for hasn’t met Jesus yet. The baby you want has a role later in time. Your request may be connected to something bigger than you’ve imagined (Ephes. 3:20).
The writer of Hebrews reminds us that some of God’s choicest saints experienced unanswered prayers. “All of them pleased God because of their faith! But still they died without being given what had been promised. This was because God had something better in store for us. And he did not want them to reach the goal of their faith without us.” (Heb. 11:39-40, CEV)
Unanswered prayers are invitations to draw near to God.
When Jesus asked to be delivered from the cross, He added the ultimate expression of faith, “Thy will be done.” Wanting God’s will removes any hindrance on our part from hearing from God. Jesus still had to go to the cross, but He received the strength to endure it with the joy of knowing the outcome (Hebrews 12:2).
Don’t pull away from God because your prayers haven’t been answered the way you’d hoped.
- For cleansing: Have I disregarded God in everyday life, but expected Him to jump whenever I call (Pro. 1:28-29)?
- For perspective: Has my preoccupation with my story obscured my vision of His story?
- For comfort: Is eternal joy worth the sacrifice of temporal satisfaction?
Ladies, I’d love to have you join me this fall for Bible Study. My evening study will be on prayer. Click here for more information.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on unanswered prayer. Click here to leave them.
Deborah W. Wilson