Prayer is tricky.
It’s not a very religious thing to say, I know, but it’s true. Most people don’t know what prayer is for, or if it really works. They don’t know what to expect from God once they’ve prayed. Is it supposed to happen now? Is prayer just wishful thinking? Prayer is one of those things we do because people keep telling us to, even if in the middle of it, we’re not quite sure what they’re doing.
Not that you need to be an expert or whatever. Lord knows you don’t. But let’s freely admit that getting our hands around this prayer thing is just… tricky.
It should be no surprise then, when you year people say God hasn’t answered their prayers. In fact, I checked some of my statistics this morning, and I’ve seen a definite increase in folks searching things like “god is ignoring me” and “god doesn’t hear me,” and “where’s God when I need him.” The post that search has led them to on this site is called Why is God Ignoring Me? if you’d like to check it out. Which is a decent post. But I got to thinking about some of the reasons people may feel God hasn’t answered their prayers, and here’s what I came up with.
5. Stones and Snakes Aren’t Good For You.
Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:9-11)
Let’s just face it. We want things that are bad for us. We do. And many times, we’ve allowed ourselves to believe that praying to God is the best way to get what we want… not what we need. I know it’s cliche’. Let me put it differently. If we truly believe that God is the giver of good gifts (and only good gifts), then we’ve got to trust that his response to our desires are what’s best. The tricky part comes in asking “Best for whom?” As Christians, we should be coming to an understanding that our lives, everything about us, are tools to further God’s will. It is this sacrifice, this giving up of ourselves and even our desires, that ends our prayers with “not my will, but thine be done.” Amen?
So then, are you willing to sacrifice your desires for God’s desires. Are you willing to give up what you want for the ultimate “good”? Maybe not, which leads us to our next item on the list.
4. He Has, We Just Don’t Like the Answer.
I’d say this one is pretty self-explanatory. So I won’t explain. I will, however, challenge you to think about this more seriously. This is an easy answer when you’re asking for a Ferrari, or for a new house, job, or for your favorite team to win the big game. But it gets real when the stakes are higher. When our health, or the health of someone we love, begins to fail or when we’ve been looking for employment for months and the bills are due… these are the moments when God’s answers are sometimes hard to swallow. So hard, that we reject his answer.
Look, we are taught that trusting God means praying while believing that what we are praying for will be done. But we must mind our motives. The trust with which we pray is not that God will empower us to perform miracles on demand, drastic as they may be. We need to be praying with the sort of trust in God that recognizes that He knows best. And that nothing is happening in our lives that He is not aware of, or even allowing. Trusting God is, in so many ways, an admission of our limited perspective. God is good. And he is the giver of good gifts. Trusting him through His answers that don’t make us feel great provides us an opportunity to show that we can love and trust Him despite the yucky feelings. After all, that’s the way He loves us.
3. We’re Screening His Calls.
This one is funny because these days we are so connected. Smart phones. Social Media. Email. Anyone can contact us at just about anytime, anywhere. Except God. It seems God has a hard time getting us to answer the phone when He calls. He could be annoying, and spam us. That’ll totally get our attention. But I don’t think He’s that kind of communicator. After all, in this scenario, we called him. Remember.
You know those days when you have the inkling to turn on Christian radio, but then your jam comes on so you stay put. You just hit “reject” on God’s call.
That moment when you were going to take lunch to read the devotional you’ve been putting off for days, but instead head to lunch with the gang. God’s call just got totally screened.
The preacher offered a suggestion to set your clock for 10 minutes earlier so you can spend a few minutes reading God’s Word every morning. You set the alarm with good intentions, but when the alarm goes off you slam on the Snooze button. Total Screen.
The Bible tells us to seek the Lord where He may be found. Perhaps the simple reason God has not spoken to you is because you won’t answer His freakin’ call.
2. We’re Unavailable.
Too busy. Man, this one is tough. Because we’re all trying to do the best we can with our schedules. There’s so much to manage. Our jobs, our varying relationships (spouse, boy/girlfriend, kids, friends, work, etc…), they vie for our very valuable attention. It’s not that we’re screening God’s call. It’s that we don’t really have time to talk.
I mentioned all the ways we give people to connect with us. Our phones, emails, facebook/twitter pages, etc… What ways do we really give God to contact us? Is it just the one hour on Sunday morning? Do we approach prayer ready to listen, or are we too ready to dominate the conversation? I mentioned Christian radio, but I could add podcasts, blogs, or articles. Do you have time with God’s Word on a regular basis? Ask yourself, if God were to need to talk to you, what in your life would He use to do so? Maybe it’s time you gave him more options.
1. Silence is Golden.
Time and time again in scripture we see that God is not in a hurry. For 400 years, the Israelites prayed for the deliverance that God gave them through Moses. Cliche’ as it may be. God is the master of time, and therefore the master of timing. Jesus went around talking about how “his hour had not come” and the scriptures mention events happening “in the fullness of time.” To come full circle, trusting God is in control, that He is good, and that He gives good gifts, means trusting that his timing makes better sense than our timing. So if God is silent, pray for his peace. Pray for his will to be done. And pray that He gives you the kind of faith that will wait.
Did I miss anything? What are some other reasons it seems God hasn’t answered our prayers?
Latest posts by Antwuan Malone (see all)
- Courage in the Face of Persecution [sermon] - November 28, 2015
- 3 Strategies For Culture Change - October 28, 2015
- Four Lessons I’ve Learned From Serving In Young Adult Ministry - July 20, 2015