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Unanswered Prayer

June 30, 2016

Man Frustrated

Every praying Christian has experienced the disappointment of not having a request granted. As the Christian’s prayers multiply so to does the number of requests refused. The believer often concludes that God did not answer because He has something better in store or because “it was not the Lord’s will.” These answers are Biblical, but such truisms some times deflect from a deeper consideration of prayer and God’s promises.

Far too often Christians conclude something is not the Lord’s will as if in other circumstances God would have granted the request. The assumption when praying is that God wants to give all the Christian seeks but that He reluctantly has to deny a petition to teach a greater spiritual lesson. God does teach through unanswered prayer, but the unconsidered response that God did not answer because He had something better can sometimes cause the Christian to look past wrong assumptions about prayer. Some pray as if healing is to be expected, but Divine mysteriousness intervenes to turn it away. When one prays for safety and has an unexpected breakdown the comfort given is that the delay preserved the Christian from some worse fate. All these clicheic answer miss an important fact. No reason is needed to explain why God did not grant a request He never promised to give.

The New Testament is rich in promises of answered prayer. Jesus famously said, “If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.” (John 14:14) Praying in Jesus’ name is not attaching  “in Jesus name” onto the end of the prayer. Praying in Jesus’ name is praying accordance with the character and purpose of Jesus. In Jesus name is not a Divine guarantee to heal the ailing house cat, provide Aunt Bertha with an easy trip from Montreal to Nome and give cousin Ralph a steady job. God never promised to do any of those things. The presumption is that because the Christian prayed the right words with the proper sincerity then God is almost obligated to give what was asked. Never mind that such requests are often just the regurgitation of another’s selfishness. Never mind that the Bible assures the Christian of difficulty, opposition, persecution and possible poverty, oppression or capital punishment. Never mind that such petitions rarely give thought to the glory of God, the spiritual benefit of the person or the spread of the gospel.

God graciously answers prayers. God often gives many things which He did not promise, but He only promises to answer according to certain criteria. That criteria does not include personal health, comfort, safety or wealth. Read and study again the promises of God to answer prayer. God’s promises are gracious and rich beyond consenting to every fleeting whim of we who “know not what we should pray for as we ought.” (Romans 8:26) God promises to answer prayer when the request rightly reflects the character of God, when the answer is according to His will and when the prayer is selflessly made. Many are disppointed to find God did not answer prayers that should never have been prayed. Many requests are legitimate to make but God has placed himself under no obligation to answer. God never promised to heal grandma, to give the job desired or to provide the dream home. In His grace God often gives these good gifts, (1 Timothy 6:17) but it is folly to become frustrated or disillusioned with God because He doesn’t give what He never promised. Expect God to keep His promises. Never stop praying for the good of others, the healing of others and the intervention of God in all matters of life. Pray remembering that God has clearly spelled out His promises in His Word. What God has promised He will do. Make the promises of God the confidence of your prayers. Rejoice in God’s rich grace which responds to the requests of His children and goes beyond His promises to give abundantly of earthly benefits.


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