Pastor’s Corner: “Unanswered Prayer?”
Luke 18:1 (NLT) – One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up.
How many times have you prayed and prayed … and praaaayed about something in your life, only to see no change and no answer to your prayer? Maybe you prayed for a sick loved one to get better, and they did not. Maybe you prayed for your marriage to improve, and it got worse. Maybe you prayed for your finances to grow and they shrunk. Maybe you prayed for a lost friend’s heart to soften, and it hardened. Maybe you prayed for a different outcome to the election, and it didn’t happen. Have you ever gotten discouraged in prayer, secretly wondering if it even makes a difference?
Jesus never mentioned unanswered prayer. He had the unlimited certainty of knowing that prayer is always answered. God answers prayer in the best way— not just sometimes, but every time.
To be sure, prayer is always right and always makes a difference, even when the results don’t go the way you wanted. Just because God hasn’t answered your prayer the way you want him to doesn’t mean He hasn’t answered.
Sometimes we pray the wrong thing, and God says, “No.” Being omniscient, God knows what we need and what we don’t. He knows what is truly good for us in the long run, and what is not. When we get a direct “no” to our prayers, it is God’s way of saying, you are asking me for something that would not be truly beneficial to you in your walk with Me. Remember, God’s priority is not to make you happy, but to make you holy. And as you and I grow in holiness, we grow in happiness and real joy. Every “no” from God is an opportunity for us to pray differently. Sometimes we need to change our prayer because we don’t see the bigger picture.
Sometimes we pray the right thing, and God says, “Not yet.” In this case, the prayer is right, but the timing is wrong. There is more work that needs to be done in us and in the circumstances around us. It is important to remember that God is not some heavenly slot machine who must pay out if you put in enough “prayer” coins. Favorably answered prayed is not the ultimate goal of prayer. Relationship and friendship with God is the ultimate goal. Entering into God’s presence and talking with Him from your heart is what He really wants and what will really change you. Is it hard for the God who spoke the worlds into existence to answer your prayer for finances, or health, or a job? It is another matter altogether for God to change your life and make you a man or woman of character and Christ-likeness. Prayer (along with studying His Word and trusting Him) is the main vehicle God has given us to make that happen.
Sometimes we pray and God says, “I’ve got a bigger and better idea.” This is my favorite reason for why God says “no” but we so often forget to consider it. Because He is good and knows what’s eternally best for us, and doesn’t want us to settle. God sometimes says no or closes a door because He has something better for us that we haven’t even thought to ask for. He is One who can do “immeasurably more” than all we can ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20). Trust His timing. Trust His “no.” And trust His idea of what is eternally best for you. He really is a good father
If you have gotten discouraged in your prayers … keep praying! He is good. He is God, and He never makes a mistake. He is waiting to hear from you and spend time with you and in His presence we are changed. Jesus said, “Pray all the time and never give up” (Luke 18:1 GW).
In His Grace,