Over time I’ve sensed that many of us have questions about prayer that we keep to ourselves. One of those questions has to do with unanswered prayers. See once if you track with me…
Would you ask someone to pray for you if you knew that person was living with the heartache of unanswered prayer? Or turn it around. Would you expect others to ask you to pray for them if they knew you were living with long-term unemployment, lost health, crippling debt, loneliness, an unhappy marriage, or wayward children?
I find that while some unanswered prayers don’t bother me much, others tend to have a cooling effect on how I feel about God. My natural inclination is to think that if my cries for help don’t move His hand, how can I presume to offer prayers for others.
Part of the problem is that, for the life of me, I sometimes can’t figure out whether I’ve done something– or haven’t done something, that would explain why God doesn’t answer.
It’s not that I feel that I’ve paid my dues and that God owes me something. Believe me, every day he gives me far more than I deserve. Beyond that, I’ve let him down so many times. And I do remember that the Apostle James says that we shouldn’t expect answers from God if we knock on the door of heaven with wrong motives (James 4:3).
But if I stop here, especially when I’m thinking about the unanswered prayers of others, don’t I sound a lot like Job’s friends who assumed that the reason Job was suffering, and the reason God didn’t answer his prayers, was that Job was hiding some sin that would explain his problems?
So before we go on, what are you thinking?
Don’t feel limited by the following. But here are some questions I’d like to hear some comments on:
Have you found that unanswered prayer causes a cooling in your relationship with God?
Would you agree that there may be more explanations for unanswered prayer than our own unwillingness to come clean with God?