I wouldn't ask if you ever prayed for something--and prayed for it real hard--and nothing happened, because I pretty much know what you'd say. We all have unanswered prayers, don't we? And let's be honest, we don't welcome unanswered prayers with loud rejoicing and colorful banners and merrymaking. We welcome them with griping and questioning and some more griping.
I find those reactions quite natural, though, because really, how would we reconcile the existence of unanswered prayers with the biblical truth that God hears and answers prayers?
But unanswered prayers do happen. In fact, the Bible explicitly warns us that God won't answer our prayers if we have:
*unrepented sins (Isaiah 59: 1-2),
*selfish motives (James 4:3),
*unbelief (James 1:5-7),
*unforgiveness (Mark 11:25),
*unresolved marital conflicts (1 Peter 3:7).
Aware of this truth, many of us make sure all these hindrances have been addressed when we meet with God. And when we think there are no longer roadblocks between our prayers and Him, we get confident we will get answers. But realistically, there are times that simply we won't have them.
Sometimes He doesn't give what we pray for.
Sometimes He even chooses not to respond.
Sometimes He chooses to just be silent.
And this we have a hard time accepting because it goes against what we know of as praying. Sadly, we've reduced praying to asking things from God and getting them--immediately.
What we sometimes don't realize is that meeting our prayers is not the only way God answers. Many times, even His silence--His seeming inaction and purposeful delays, included--is an answer in itself.
Because it is during His silence that we learn to cling more to God, to grow more familiar with His principles and leadings, to wrestle with Him until finally we understand what sovereignty means. It is at this moment that He shapes our desires according to His desires so that we can fully see the wisdom in surrendering to His will.
Because in the midst of non-answers, He certainly can assure us that even if things unravel at the seams and yes, even if He remains silent when we ask from Him, He doesn't turn a deaf ear. He hears. He sees the big picture, and so He knows just the right answer to every one of our prayers.
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