Why doesn’t God answer my prayers?
Have you ever asked that question? The reality is we all will face times where it seems like God is not answering our prayers. We pray, we ask, and we seek. And silence…
Some days it just seems like our prayers get stuck on the ceiling like there’s some kind of interference. Sometimes it just seems like prayer isn’t working, God isn’t answering. Why doesn’t God answer my prayers? It can be a painful question, can’t it?
So, I want to look a little further at what to do when God doesn’t answer your prayers.
Why Doesn’t God Answer My Prayers?
If you have ever wondered why doesn’t God answer my prayers you are not alone. The Bible is full of stories who prayed and then waited for a response. Or got the response they didn’t want.
Maybe most famously is Job. Job had quite literally everything taken from him in a cosmic wager between Satan and God. His family, his livestock, his houses, everything. Gone.
In his grief he cried out asking God why. God’s response? A LONG period of silence. And then when God does eventually talk, he doesn’t even address the why. Instead focuses on telling Job who He is. Totally sidestepping the original question.
I can’t really answer the question, why doesn’t God answer my prayers. I’m not sure why God answers some prayers and not others.
But what I do know is that He sees things I cannot. He understands things I never will. There’s a larger picture unfolding that I’m not privy to this side of heaven. Faith requires me to trust even when it doesn’t make sense. Faith is believing in advance what will only make sense in reverse.
So rather than address why God doesn’t answer some prayers I want to focus on what we should do when our prayers go unanswered.
What To Do When God Doesn’t Answer Your Prayers
At some point everyone will find themselves in a place where God is silent. And you will probably ask yourself why won’t God answer my prayer?
There have been painful times in my life when God has been silent. (you can read about them here: Trusting God After a Miscarriage and Faith and Doubt) And it’s tough. I get it, I’ve been there. Through those times I’ve learned some helpful steps to take when I’m wondering why doesn’t God answer my prayers and I think they will help you too.
Let’s take a look at 5 things we should do when God doesn’t answer our prayers.
1. Keep Praying Honest Prayers
I think there’s an assumption that if God says no or if He’s silent that means He doesn’t want to hear our prayers anymore. Listen, nothing could be further from the truth. I am convinced that God doesn’t want our put together prayers. He wants our hearts. He wants our messy, dirty, screwed up parts too. In other words, God wants what’s on your heart. Keep praying honest, gut-wrenching prayers.
The best example of this in the Bible is David throughout the Psalms. He prays exactly what is on his heart. He holds no punches. He tells God exactly how he’s feeling.
That’s what it means to pray honest prayers. Show God what’s really on your heart. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Whatever it is you are dealing with, He can handle it. Keep praying honest prayers.
When God doesn’t answer, keep praying honest prayers. It’s when we are honest with ourselves and with God that we can start to change.
2. Surround Yourself In Community
We were never meant to do life alone. God designed us to live in community. Even Jesus didn’t try to do life alone. We NEED each other.
When things get tough people often withdraw from community. Maybe they don’t want to be a burden to others, maybe there’s shame, or maybe they just think people don’t care. But withdrawing is the last thing we should do when God doesn’t answer.
When things get tough, when your prayers go unanswered, you need to run to community. Share your doubts, your concerns, and your prayers with others. Be vulnerable and honest. Let them pick you up, encourage you, and keep you on the right path.
You need people in your life to support you. When God doesn’t answer your prayers, you need to fight the urge to retreat by yourself and keep sharing your struggles with God and with other Christians.
When we are struggling through the question why doesn’t God answer my prayers we need to draw closer into community and not away from it.
3. Daily Remind Yourself the Truth of the Gospel
When your prayers go unanswered, you will be tempted to think that God doesn’t love you. He has abandoned you. His word isn’t true. Or that you aren’t good enough for him. You need to get alone with God each day and remind yourself of who God is, what He has done, and that you are his child. Don’t let yourself forget that.
John Piper says it this way: “Therefore, therefore, do not lose heart. But take these truths and day by day focus on them. Preach them to yourself every morning. Get alone with God and preach his word into your mind until your heart sings with confidence that you are new and cared for.”
You’ve got to daily get alone with God and remind yourself that He is good and you are loved. If you don’t you will interpret God’s silence as a rejection. Preaching to yourself daily is reminding yourself all that God has said and promised so that you can live in the truth.
4. Check Your Motives
I don’t know about you, but a lot of my prayers center around me. When my prayers go unanswered I need to check my motive in my prayer. Now praying a prayer for myself isn’t a bad motive. I have needs that God cares about. But if I’m not careful my prayers become focused solely around me and what I want.
James 4:3 warns us of this attitude. Ask yourself why are you praying so fervently for that thing? What’s your motive?
Sometimes our prayers don’t get us what we want. They change our heart, and it gives us what we need. Often when I pray, I first ask for what I feel I need and then ask for a change of heart if that’s not actually what I need. It’s important to still present what’s on our hearts because God loves us where we are at. But it’s also important to recognize that God will sometimes answer our prayers by changing our hearts.
5. Wait on God’s Timing
This is the one we don’t like. We want the answer that leads to a quick solution. But that’s not the way God works. We cannot force God’s hand and make him act in our time. And I’m not so sure we would want him too anyway.
Let me ask you a question. What do you think God’s intentions with you are? Does God have the best in mind for you, or is He out to get you?
Assume with me for a second that God has the best in mind for you, and that he can see things you cannot. If that’s true then waiting on God is what is best for us. It can be extremely difficult. But we’ve got to wait if what we want is God’s best for us. If you don’t do the above four things this final step is near impossible. We’ve got to hunker down and wait on God’s timing.
I can still recall vivid times when I prayed raw and honest prayers begging God to give me an answer or do something. And when I faced silenced I struggled with the question, why doesn’t God answer my prayers? It’s a tough place to be. But having come through those seasons it’s taught me a valuable lesson.
Here’s what I’ve learned.
God is with me.
God cares about me.
God will bring me through.
God has proved himself to be faithful to me time and time again. I believe the same is true for you as well.
God is with you.
God cares about you.
God will bring you through.
When you are asking the question why doesn’t God answer my prayers you need to keep praying, surround yourself in community, remind yourself of God’s truth, check your motives, and wait patiently. God will bring you through.
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