What to do when prayers seem to fail.
Have we missed God’s answer?
What if a simple answer from God is not possible?
There should be a way forward.
Importantly, please read the introductory article, “Praying for things” to this subsection of the website before going on. It presents an overview of why and how we pray in that manner.
And look, it may be best if you read all of the articles in this subsection, also titled ‘Praying for things’ – before putting any of their guidance to use. That approach will make sure you do not take any of the Bible-based advice out of context, which might weaken your results.
(To read about the ‘who’, ‘how’ and ‘why’ of this website please click here.)
One of those articles, “Best ways to pray for things” in this subsection, explains how to improve the chances of getting positive answers to our prayers of request.
The article previous to this one, “Prayers that may fail” discusses why God won’t answer some of our prayers. This particular article firstly explains how to evaluate ‘unanswered’ prayers, that seem to us to have a ‘good reason’ for being answered. And finally, it suggests what we can do when a prayer, that seems reasonable, is genuinely overdue?
2. CHECK FOR UNEXPECTED ANSWERS
Looking back occasionally over past prayers is necessary too, if we are to fully understand what God has actually done in answer to our requests.
Very importantly, we must look closely for unexpected and/ or alternative answers to our prayers. These may only become noticeable through the passing of time, if we do follow up on prayers.
Due to our human nature, it is not unusual for us to have unreasonable expectations when we do pray. We just do not have the benefit of God’s all-knowing ability. So it should not be surprising that God’s answers to some of our prayers will differ from the actual ‘results’ we had hoped for.
We come to more easily understand why prayers have been answered in unexpected ways as we mature in our thinking and knowledge over time. Again, this has nothing to do with wishful thinking, or desperately trying to ‘explain away’ unanswered prayers.
3. IS THE TIMING RIGHT?
Now, I mention again and again through this website, that God absolutely knows ‘what is best’ for each of us. It relates directly to “God’s will“. And in the case of timing his answers to our prayers, we must trust that he alone knows when it is best to answer each of them.
In other words, God may have not answered a prayer simply because it is not the right time to do so. As such, we do need to be patient sometimes. And we do need to examine that issue of timing for ourselves.
4. DEALING WITH UNANSWERED PRAYERS
So how do we deal with prayers – that we believe have a ‘just cause’ or a good reason – that really have gone unanswered for lengthy periods of time?
4.1 Unanswered prayers shouldn’t damage our belief
Look, first off, please don’t start to think that unanswered prayers mean there is no God. Or maybe suspect that Christian faith is baseless as a result. This website has been built as a result of a major evaluation of Christian faith in action within the lives of believers. (Again, please click here to read about the ‘who’, ‘how’ and ‘why’ of this website.) And I am sure that you, the reader, can certainly prove to yourself that God exists. Please begin by reading articles such as “Too good to be true?” and “Can I really believe in God?” if you want to ‘prove to yourself‘ that he is real.
And, to understand more about unanswered prayers, please read on.
4.2 A simple answer is not always possible
A major piece of advice is: when things are not working out on an issue that is ‘big time’ in our lives – despite our continued prayers and waiting in vain – then it is appropriate to accept that a simple answer from God is just not possible.
In circumstances where a prayer just seems not to be working, what we need to do firstly is to ‘sacrifice’ our concerns. I mean we accept that the prayer cannot be answered in its current form. After all God absolutely DOES know best.
We must accept that!
4.3 Hand over the issue in trust
Then we must ‘hand over’ the whole issue to the Lord in faith and trust.
With as much confidence that you can muster, tell the Lord you are doing just that. That is, putting the matter into his loving hands, allowing him to deal with it through his ‘grace!’
And, at ‘the end of the day’, there really is no value in stressing ourselves unduly over any issue.
Sure, what I am talking about here is a ‘place’ of deep faith and also accepting just what power we all have at our disposal as a result. Again, I am talking about ‘trusting in God’.
Essentially, what is called for here is faith and patience.
4.4 He does not let us down
I will ‘go out on a limb’ and state that when you actually do look back on the situation ‘after the dust has settled’, you will know that you have not been let down by our loving God. At the minimum, you will know that.
If you can get your mind to that place mentioned above, and just let go, then God will normally bring about the best possible option for all concerned. That is what God knows will best suit your life/ faith journey and that of others affected by it. I say, yet again, let the Lord know that you ARE trusting him with the situation.
Although it may feel risky to just leave these things up to God rather than ask for (or expect) specific outcomes, God is obviously in a position where he knows better than us. And that refers here to what is best for all concerned in the long run.
5. ARE WE ‘OUT OF SYNC’ WITH GOD?
It also appears that – as with God temporarily cutting us adrift when we disobey his ‘leadings‘ and act wrongfully – he may not continue to answer our prayers as he did in the past. To make sure our relationship with God continues to be positive we simply must not get into the habit of doing bad stuff he really doesn’t approve of! And look, our poor behaviour should be clear to us. He will ‘make sure of that’! Please see the article, “God’s tough love“.
Our own behaviour then can itself be a reason for unanswered prayers. We must try our hardest to live ‘faithfully’.
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to his prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.
[1 Peter 3:12]
I do not believe, even then, that he cuts many of us completely adrift in life. If you know in your heart that ‘sin’ is the reason for your unanswered prayers, then it may be time to rethink your life! The “Journey of faith” section (see the Menu bar above) contains guidance on this stuff. Try reading “Building sound faith” and “What does faith offer us?”
This is the last article in the subsection, “Praying for things” (i.e. prayers of request). Those types of prayer are useful for a couple of reasons. Firstly, they can lead to smoother, more contented and purposeful lives if we use them well. Secondly, they can help build our Christian faith, i.e. as a result of recognising our loving God at work within our lives in this Bible-based manner.
This article and the others before it, will hopefully lead to greater success in your prayers of request.
I will say at this point though, that there is more to prayer than just asking for stuff from God. For example, prayer has an important role in enhancing our one-on-one relationship with the Lord. You see he does wants us to love him more and more as time passes. Continue to the next article, “Mature prayer”.