Unanswered Prayer – What Can We Do?

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Some people seem to have their prayers answered frequently, while others pray the same prayer for years with no apparent response.

Why is that? Why has MY prayer not been answered?

Or, maybe my prayer has been answered. Maybe I have not recognized the answer to the prayer, or maybe it was answered in a way that was unexpected or not desired.

Listed below are 10 ideas about how to deal with prayer and unanswered prayer.

Please remember that no matter what you are going through or what you have done, God’s love toward you does not decrease.

Realize that our time is not God’s time.
I was just reminded of a couple in my church who prayed for almost 10 years for children of their own. In God’s time, their prayer was answered, and they now have two healthy children who have subsequently professed faith in Jesus Christ. We are impatient, but God has the ability to heal regardless of the severity and timing. Don’t stop praying, and draw closer to God for comfort and peace.  See Psalm 13, where David cries out, “How long, O Lord?”  At the end of the passage he reaffirms his trust and thankfulness to the Lord.


Realize that our will may not be God’s will.
God has a plan for our lives, and His plan may not be what we have envisioned for our own lives. God works outside of time, and our fleeting time on earth pales in comparison with our future time in eternity in God’s presence. We live in a fallen world because of sin (Adam). Pain, suffering, and death came into the world because of that sin. This was not’s God’s desire, but he blessed man with free will and the ability to make his own decisions. Nevertheless, God can turn any bad situation into good, for His purposes. See Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”


Pray to understand God’s will, and what he wants His will to be in your life.
Praying for God’s will to be done can be a scary thing. It requires us to fully trust God and to accept His decision about our lives. Just before his arrest and capture, Jesus prayed to God in the Garden in Mark 14:36, “And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will”.  In this case, the “cup” was His crucifixion and death, but Jesus submitted himself to God’s will and died on the cross.So, for example, one person’s prayer might be that he lands a job in is hometown close to his relatives and friends. Another person’s prayer might be for God to open doors to the job that He would want the person to have, regardless of the location. The first prayer is selfish, while the second one is in God’s will.


Pray for understanding and wisdom about your problem, and how it can be used by God. Listen for an answer!
Praying for wisdom and understanding can help us to gain insight into the problem and the ability to look in from the outside to see other angles and solutions.  Praying for a solution that glorifies God takes the focus off of us and onto God, and in many cases, the “problem” takes care of itself.  For example, a person in a difficult embattled relationship might pray for the other person to drop dead. Instead, prayer for forgiveness and mercy can lead to a spirit of peace, compromise and reconciliation, all to God’s glory.


Trust fully in God, and surrender self to let God be in control.
Is there a room in your house where you would not want Jesus to enter? Is there a part of your life where you want to be in control and God to back off? Is there any place in your life that you are keeping God out of?Let Him in!  These are the dark areas where Satan can influence us: through deceit, lies, temptations, self doubt, feelings of inadequacy and depression, and thoughts of failure and hopelessness. Satan and Jesus cannot exist in the same room!  Trust in God in all parts of your life, and your prayer life will be blessed.


Come closer to God through continued prayer, Bible reading, Bible study, fellowship with other Christians, and though Christian music.
Take time to pray and to be quiet to listen for His response. Stay in God’s word through daily devotionals, Bible reading and study, and through structured Bible study at church. Listening to Christian music can put us in a constant state of worship, bringing us closer to God. The benefits of fellowship and support of other Christians cannot be overemphasized, as is the benefit of membership in a local church and participating in opportunities of service. All of these things work to develop our relationship with Jesus Christ.


Take care of any unconfessed sin that you have not repented of, and turn from that sin.
James 5:16 states, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
Does this mean that a person living in sin will be punished by God with curses and unanswered prayers? There may be some controversy to that question, but I prefer to take a positive approach:John 3:17“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”


Replace bitterness, self-pity, and jealousy with joy and service to others.
Inward sin is self destructive and distances us from God. Thoughts of unforgiveness, jealousy and bitterness, malice and getting even, and holding grudges are not Christian attributes.  Ephesians 4:31-31 says, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”Replace thoughts of malice with love and service toward others. This will put us in the right frame of mind when approaching God in worship and in prayer.


Don’t turn down a life-line sent by God!
Who are we to say how God should heal us? Maybe God will use a surgeon to successfully remove a cancer; should we refuse the surgery while instead waiting for a more miraculous cure where no surgery is required? Decisions such as whether or not to undergo surgery require further prayer for insight and wisdom.This reminds me of a passage in Numbers 20:7-12, where Moses and the entire Israelite community had escaped from Egypt and had arrived at Kadesh at the Desert of Zin. There was no water for the people or livestock.Starting in verse 7:
The Lord said to Moses, “Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.”So Moses took the staff from the Lord’s presence, just as he commanded him. He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank.But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”While Moses had struck a rock to bring forth water in Exodus 17 at a different time and place, he disobeyed God in Numbers 20 by striking rather than speaking, and also taking credit for the miracle rather than attributing it to God. He took matters into his own hands with dire consequences – never being able to enter the promised land.Let God take care of how we are healed and how our prayers are answered.


Enlist the prayer support of others.
The Holy Spirit cries out in prayer on our behalf when we are unable to pray (Romans 8:26), and Jesus Christ Himself intercedes for us in prayer (Romans 8:34). Ask others to pray for ourselves and for our prayer concerns.

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One thought on “Unanswered Prayer – What Can We Do?

  1. Dolores Mason

    This is so beautiful and wonderful. I want to tell you a story about me and you will understand why I am so appreciative of this writing. I have MS (multiple sclerosis) and I have had it for about 35 years but it has taken it has gotten worse and I am now disabled and in a scooter. However when I went on disability in 1992 I somehow had the Lord enter my life. I was blessed by a wonder minister who came to my house and talked with me. At that time I was born again….the Lord had waited 53 years for me to become saved. I tell people today I am glad for my MS. Since then I have started a MS support group and we have been together for 10 years. We named our group “You, me and the Lord. too….)”. I know I have days I wonder why I have to go through this pain and not be able to walk anymore and have such difficulties, but the Lord gave me a wonderful husband who helps me and takes care of me. I had told him when I got MS he could divorce me so he didn’t have to go through all this however he told me “That is my decision not yours” and he is still with me today. I have also had the overwhelming pleasure of bringing a few people to the Lord and getting them saved.

    I love our Heavenly Father so much and am so grateful to Him for everything He has done for me, even though I do get those days of asking WHY?

    Thank you for the above. I reading it at my support groups Christmas luncheon. I know they will enjoy it.

    Love and God Bless

    Dolores Mason

    Reply

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