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Unanswered Prayer (2nd of 4)

In my last post I alluded to the friends of Job who assumed that the reason Job found heaven silent was that he was hiding some hidden sin. Let’s take this a little further.

While not discounting the possibility that there is something in me that needs to change, I keep reminding myself that God can have other reasons for not answering prayer on my time schedule. The Bible tells us about people of faith who lived for long periods before getting what they were requesting. Job illustrates such people. When he suggested that heaven was withholding justice from him, his friends responded by accusing him of hiding a secret sin. They were wrong. God was silent to give Job a chance to trust him, not to punish him.

Then there was David. We remember him as “a man after God’s own heart.” Yet, his songs show how often he wondered why God didn’t answer his prayers. Hannah had a similar experience. So did Abraham and Sarah, John the Baptist, and the Apostle Paul.

It helps me to see that if we are struggling with unanswered prayers we are in good company. Even Jesus repeatedly made unanswered requests before saying, “Nevertheless, not My will but Yours be done.”

Before going any further, what are you thinking?

Don’t feel limited by the following. But here are some questions I’d like to hear some comments on:

In struggling with unanswered prayer has there been any story of the Bible that you’ve found especially helpful?

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16 Responses to “Unanswered Prayer (2nd of 4)”

  1. angelak says:

    I see the Bible as a glove fitting the hands of my life. Although the glove may appear to look and feel the same, not every glove fits every person the same. Each of us must try it on (apply it to our individual life) and find one that fit’s us accordingly. This doesn’t mean to change the Bible or it’s contents according to our circumstance…God’s word never changes. I may find a story that relates to me while another may find the same story relating to them. The story is the same, but the application fits our own individualism. Like a glove covering the hand…the glove may look and feel the same, but we must try it on for the fit. I sometimes find that “strife for life” overwhelms my “strive for life”. To think I am beyond human nature is to think I am beyond and above all my circumstances. Only God is Above, and only God is beyond. He sees all yesteday today and tommorow. I look for ways, and often times I have lost my way when relying on my own self preservation. There is only one truthful way, and that is the way of Christ. Sometimes I look for easy ways…but not all easy ways are truthful ways. Freedom is never born in a day…it takes time…not our time, but God’s time…and God Himself is a timeless wonder.

  2. martdehaan says:

    Tish, that’s a really good question.

  3. Paul Ajayi Ojo says:

    In struggling with unanswered prayer,biblical passages like the Heros of faith in Hebrews have been very helpful. There, we are told that some of the heros died without receiving some of the things God promised them. But they died with the belief that if not in this life, they will get such promises fulfilled in the life that is to come. Another passage in the one in Ecclesiastes that says that God will make all things beautiful in his time. Another passage talks about God teaching us patience. “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength”
    Concerning knowing when an answer to a prayer is simply No, I will say that anything we know that is directly opposite to what God desires in the bible must have “No” for an answer from God. God commands us to plead our case with him. He said we should command him concerning his word. The bible says that we should proof all things (of course with the word of God). That which you can not get clearly from the bible, check the Holy Spirit in you. How does He feel. What is His reaction?

  4. g_rod says:

    “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? . . .(nothing) in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Jesus our Lord.”
    “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
    The story of Peter is not directly associated with prayer, but it certainly includes the Lord’s High Prayer in the Upper Room – of which Peter was an integral part. And after Peter had denied Jesus, he walked away obviously dejected and destitute. But after the resurrection, Jesus carefully brought Peter back to center by asking him, “Peter do you love me?” Three times he asked, three times Peter said, “Yes, Lord.” Jesus then says, “Feed my sheep.”
    I believe that the emphasis in prayer should always be on the Lord, not on me. If I can maintain that close, loving relationship with Christ, my prayers become sweet incense at the throne of God. “Not my will, but Thine.”

  5. martdehaan says:

    Tish, I think Paul is right in saying that if something is contrary to the principles of God, then we can assume God loves us too much to say “yes”. On the other hand if our requests seem to be within the boundaries of God, then we should probably never assume that delay means “no”–and continue waiting on him as our only hope. Psalm 130:5 gives us timeless counsel when it says, “I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in His word I do hope.”

  6. Gladys Thankachan says:

    I have found myself taking control of the situations (trying to work it out)I have prayed about if God has not answered my prayer. Just today God used an opportunity to show me that this is what I do. It has been a great insight.

  7. shekaina says:

    I just wanted to say your comments is all a blessing to my life…… Keep it up I like it in here.

  8. klucas says:

    After reading Gladys’ comment and Mart’s question, I think Ruth is the Bible character who has impressed me most. Her situation was dire, and I’m sure that she and Naomi prayed for God to act on their behalf. But they didn’t sit idly by and wait for help to find them. By their participation in God’s plan, acting according to what was proper, they showed great faith that God would supply all they needed.

    But that also leads to a question: just how much action should we take in the area of that request that God hasn’t answered yet? And if we are confident the request is within His will, should that make us bolder or less bold in taking some action?

  9. Acerzx says:

    “You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him.” Matthew 7:9-11

    “I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you EVERYTHING [Emphasis mine] and will remind you of everything I have told you” John 14:25,26

    The above 2 passages, I believe, is pretty familiar with many brothers and sister of the faith. The literal conveyance of the second passage have reminded us on the existence of the appointed Counsellor which we can rely on until Christ’s coming again. With respect to the following verse:

    “The Holy Spirit SAID [Emphasis mine] to Philip, “Go over and walk along beside the carriage.”” Acts 8:29.

    Now may I be bold enough to have everyone ponder and expect the very same literal experience as Philip did – to have the Holy Spirit speak to us as He spoke to Philip. To be able to discern through the Holy Spirit’s prompting whether as to God’s answer to us is really a ‘Wait’ or a ‘No’.

    May we be reminded that one of the persons of the Holy Trinity is with us TODAY and we have often fail to acknowledge the literal presence and left him out of the equation even in the questions we asked.

    To further re-phrase Tish’s question, it should be “How do we know from the Holy Spirit that the answer to our prayers from God is a ‘No’?”

    The idea of “listening” to the voice of the may sound obnoxious while at the same time sounds tricky as the next question would be: “How would I know if it is the Holy Spirit and not my own impression”

    As for deliberation of this subsequent query, I guess it may call for another blog on this issue. But my encouragement is to involve the Holy Spirit to be involved in our prayers and questions at all times. It really takes a lot of devotion to reach the status as Philip. Not to say that I personally have attain that stage but I guess that if we have committed ourselves that deep, the “knowledge” of whether it is a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ may no longer be material…

  10. anand_dasraj says:

    I have been struggling with a lot of un answered prayers, and righly as Mr.Deehan says, I though that it was because of my secret sins, I have found that it still hurts that despite knowing the lords love I have not changed my ways,

    Thanks for such an encouraging and comforting word.

  11. bondservant2 says:

    Job has been very helpful to my son and I as we struggle through his incarnation. It gave us answers and hope in our risen LORD. As, he promised us life in eternity with HIM and drew us closer to HIM, and to endure as we “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation” Mark 16:15

  12. 4everwealth says:

    I have found the story of job very helpful. Despite losing everything, not hearing from God and friends giving him no comfort or words of encouragement, he recognised that we should accept whatever God brings our way.Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity? (Job 2:10)This is not easy to accept caause my feelings are ‘I don’t ask for much’but I’m still humbled by it. The book of job also helped me to realize I’m not so off thinking some of the things I do, like why did He let me get married, only to have to search for a child, why me etc because Job had thoughts too. Now, I just pray about my thoughts and ask the Holy Spirit to help me to focus on God and worship him despite it all.
    I would like to recommend Charles Swindoll’s book: A man of Heroic Endurance Job to everyone out there. It helped me read through the book of Job.
    Another thing I’ll like to bring out is, do you notice how we don’t know how long God was silent for? How long Job went through his difficult time? But God faithfully did answer.
    Let us believe that everything, not somethings, but everything work together for the good of those who love God.
    May the Spirit help us to learn all that God has to teach us as we all wait for the answers to unanswered prayers. Amen!
    God bless you Mart.

  13. Mart De Haan says:

    4everwealth, I agree that the story of Job is full of insight. At first I was afraid that “camping” with Job might be a foreboding of things to come. But then I realized that his story gives rich perspective on the disappointment that is already such a part of our lives. Once I got past my fear of pain, I also found it to be one of the most important and encouraging parts of the Bible (prior of course to our Lord’s suffering in our place).

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