(Un)Answered Prayers

I was going back through some old Bible study notes the other day, looking for a specific quote for a friend, and while I paged through my book with all my notes, I came across multiple pages of prayer requests that I had written down during my studies. Ashamedly, I was amazed at the multiple requests that God had answered; and saddened at the reminder of some that He didn’t, at least to our desire, answer.

Have you ever gone back through past memories, notes, prayer journals, etc. that you poured your heart out to God over and compared the answers He gave to your requests? It’s amazing when you take the time to see that He does listen to each prayer you take to Him. I was overwhelmed when I saw a loved one’s name that we prayed for for their Salvation and quit taking drugs; and now he’s saved, drug free and working on repairing his marriage. God is so Good! And then there were requests that didn’t go the way we’d hoped— divorce, disease, death—heartaches. And there are some that we’ve been praying over for years… Why the inconsistency? Why the silence?

We may never understand why God seems to answer our prayers, and seems to ignore others. But we are reminded that His thoughts are not our thoughts; His ways are not our ways. (Isaiah 55:8-9) He sees things in a different way than we do. (Psalm 147-:5, 1 John 3:19-20) God is not locked in time like we are. Don’t lock Him in that box. God is eternal, infinite, omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. We’ll never fully understand the “why’s” of the evil around us; but we can trust He does. (Job 13:15) Remember Job? Wow- can you imagine? His life was everything he could have ever asked for; and it was suddenly taken away from Him (his children, his wife, his possessions, his health…). Naturally he questioned God; he was angry; hurt; bewildered… but he NEVER lost faith in the Lord. (Job 1:21) ‘Bad’ things don’t mean that God is “indifferent, uncaring, unjust or powerless to protect us. Bad things happen because we live in a fallen world, where both believers and unbelievers are hit with the tragic consequences of sin. God allows evil for a time although He turns it around for our good. (Romans 8:28)” (Tyndale Life Application Study Bible New Living Translation; footnote Job 42:17)

So now, taking into account the ‘bad’ things in this world; how much worse would they be without Jesus?  Imagine when you are lost; distraught; grieving- where would you be; what would you have; without Him?  He is there with us through the pain. (Isaiah 43:2) God loves us. (John 3:16, Romans 5:8) We can’t, at least I can’t, truly comprehend the Love He had for you and me, to do this. Christ gave His Life, for the ‘language’ I spew; for the lies I’ve told; for the anger and bitterness and pride I hold in my heart; for every bad decision I have made, and sadly, will continue to make. How? Why? 

So, maybe we shouldn’t constantly question why He lets ‘bad’ things happen. Maybe we should praise Him for the ‘good’ He does allow. We deserve all the evil that comes down to us. We deserve to be condemned to Hell. (Romans 3:10-18) Thank God He doesn’t give us what we deserve. Thank God He forgives. Thank God He IS! Question Him no more. Thank Him; trust Him; Love Him. And praise Him for the prayers He does answer to our desire.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV) “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” John 16:33 (NLT) I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

May I ask you to take a moment and reflect on your prayers, and see where God has answered? Then take a moment to thank Him and praise Him for His faithfulness. If you’re comfortable enough, we’d love to hear those answered prayers. We all need a little reminder and encouragement of how good God is.