God, Are You Listening? Dealing With Unanswered Prayer
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Unanswered prayer can rattle the most stalwart of saints let alone those of us whose only brush with sainthood is a whiff of Yves Saint Laurent Perfume at the Macy’s beauty counter.
What’s a gal to do when it feels as though God is either:
- Ignoring us?
- Refusing us?
The answer is simple:
Before you throw your phone across the room because trust sounds so cliché, allow me to share an acronym that puts meat on the bones of trust.
stands for Truth. Truth about who God is and His character serves as an anchor for our souls when prayer goes unanswered. The enemy is quick to tempt us into believing that God is not for us. Satan’s first strategy in the garden was to make Eve doubt that God had her best interests at heart.
When answered prayer seems long in coming I love to recall this quote from bible teacher, Chip Ingraham,
“A classic definition of God’s wisdom is that He is going to bring about…
- The best results,
- By the best means,
- For the most people,
- For the longest time.”
It’s important to cling to the truth of who God is, how He feels about us, and the wisdom He possesses when our prayers feel ignored.
stands for revelation. Revelation is the gift we can ask for as we wait. I’ll never forget a friend who shared that she never hesitates to let God know “when I need Him to throw me a bone.” It is not out of line to ask God for an indication, a revelation, that He’s listening. This isn’t the same as insisting on prayer being answered, this is simply an honest heart coming before God and saying,
“I need to know you hear me.”
Time and time again He has confirmed His attentive ear to me through the lyrics of a song, a message from my pastor or an unexpected note from a friend. It’s OK to let God know that we need a revelation, an indication that He IS listening.
stands for understanding. Understanding is often out of reach when prayers go unanswered. It can be tempting to believe that our request makes so much sense and is so honorable it surely should be answered in the way we see fit. The most important thing I need to understand when I’m in this situation is that,
I DON’T NEED TO UNDERSTAND
Scripture says this,
I’ve wasted precious time and energy wondering why God doesn’t respond in the manner or time frame that I think makes the most sense. I’m learning to relinquish understanding and cling to Ingraham’s obsverations regarding God’s wisdom.
stands for seeking. Seeking God’s provision in the form of answered prayer is a beautiful thing. It makes our Father’s heart sing when we come to Him for our needs and the needs of others. Should the seeking stop when it appears He’s not listening? Of course not! But it may be an opportunity to evaluate exactly what it is we are looking for.
If the biggest thing we are seeking is a deeper relationship with God than we’re in good shape. That kind of search is a treasure He has promised to fulfill.
stands for time. Time is a tricky beast. It slides out from under us and bolts for the barn when we’re having fun and life is going well. It’s also known to gnarl at our heels and grab hold of our pant legs making difficult journeys even more weighted and delayed.
When our prayers go unanswered for a long period of time it can feel like doing life with a dog at our heels. These are the moments it’s easy to forget that you and I are infinite beings.
Days, months, even years are nothing compared to the span of our immortality. This truth may not make the waiting any easier but it can help us understand why God seems to be “taking too long” when in fact He hasn’t even made a scratch in the span of our eternal lives.
I’ve been blown away by the prayers God has specifically and swiftly answered over the course of my life. But I’m equally grateful that He’s not a “vending machine” God, one that I can pop in my quarter, make my request and anticipate a met desire.
I need a God that’s bigger than that.
In the meantime, while I wait for various prayers to be answered (and there are plenty) I’m going to grab hold of trust like my life depends on it, because truth is…
Savoring the journey with you,
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