I have discovered in my life that there are times when I’ve prayed all the prayers I could possibly pray about a situation. No answer. There are only a limited amount of words that can be used in a prayer. You face the situation and you wonder:
If God doesn’t answer you, you simply won’t know what to do.
I have several of these prayers going on in my life right now. I would like to tell you the “Three easy steps to answered prayer” or “How to hear from God”. When I go into a Christian bookstore I am easily drawn to these book titles but then after skimming through them, I put them back in disgust. A book isn’t going to help me.
Right now I need some serious answers and I am frustrated. Yes, the one who sits here and writes this article gets frustrated just like you. I need to hear from God. I’m not looking for a supernatural visitation or anything that makes me special. I am desperate and I need a Word from God.
What will it take to get the answer? What must I sacrifice for the answers I need?
When will the answer come?
As you can see, I have more questions than answers.
One particular thing that I’m praying about is critically time sensitive. Time has nearly and completely run out for this answer to come. I find myself getting tired of praying about it. I am at the place where I don’t care what the answer is as long as I hear from God about it. To be honest with you, I roll my eyes now when I hear people say that they have “heard from God”.
“Okay, great! So YOU have heard from God. Would you mind asking Him to give me a call?”
Here I am today in my 40s and I am still not sure if I even know how to pray. What is my problem? Why can’t I have more confidence in my prayers? I read in 1 John 5:14 where it says, “And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us.” So then I start analyzing ever aspect of the situation and drill deep into my motives. I can analyze things pretty well and completely exhaust myself in doing so. The problem is with my confidence. The only way I can develop confidence is with some response to my prayers. I know that we can’t force God to answer us and He’s certainly under no obligation to give us a status report on our prayer requests. You can fast for 40 days, pray all day and meditate every night but that will not force an answer from God. His response is completely up to Him.
When God led Moses and the Israelites out of Egypt right up to the shores of the Red Sea, the interesting thing that keeps coming to mind is that God led them there. It seemed like the wrong thing. They were trapped against the sea on one side and Pharaoh’s chariots on the other side. I’m sure they wondered: “Okay God, what now? We prayed for hundreds of years for deliverance, we’re finally delivered but now you have brought us here?”
Sometimes God leads us to a place where it looks like there is no possible way that it is the answer but He does that to show us who He is. He is God. He is OUR God. He prepares the way before us. Not according to our plan but according to His. We don’t always understand that or like it but everything works out according to His purpose.
So what do you do when you’re in that frustrating place against the Red Sea moments in your life? Stand still. Wait. Believe. There’s nothing magical or exciting about it. Moses told the people to “stand still and see the salvation of the Lord” (Exodus 14:13). They couldn’t offer any more sacrifices or use any new words in a prayer, it was simply a time that they had to wait on God. Sometimes we have no other choice but to wait. Yeah, I don’t like that word either. Waiting is not fun. Waiting is not exciting. Yet, if we wait, God will respond or He will give us the courage to endure if He doesn’t respond.
When Joseph had his dreams as a young boy that he would rule over his people, he had no idea how it was going to happen. I’m sure once he got to Egypt and was successful that he thought it would be soon. Just one false accusation by Potiphar’s
wife and Joseph was put in a prison cell. He was forgotten for three years. When we read this story, we don’t fully grasp this waiting period. To us in reading this passage, it is only a few verses from the prison back to Pharaoh’s court but three years is a long time. It’s hard enough for me to wait for three days. Have you ever noticed that God rarely takes us the direct route? There is a purpose in what He’s doing.
I get anxious when I’m waiting. It stresses me out. We should make a determined effort to pray when we feel like complaining, because complaining only raises our level of stress. The clock is ticking and I feel like I’m in the two minute drill of my life. God please answer soon! So what happens if the time runs out? Will I still believe in Him? Often I get discouraged and wonder if God even knows my name. It gives the devil a foothold in my confidence. Prayer quiets our restlessness and prepares us to be available to listen if He speaks.
I often hear people say that God always answers prayers but He doesn’t. Sometimes He just doesn’t answer at all. He isn’t under any obligation to answer us. This can be difficult to handle. Worn out clichés and religious answers from others won’t help matters.
So how do we handle unanswered prayers?
In Garth Brooks’ song “Unanswered Prayers” he sings:
Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers
Remember when you're talkin' to the man upstairs
That just because he doesn't answer doesn't mean he don't care Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers
We all like to be acknowledged. When we ask a question, we like for the other party to respond. Although we may not like the response, a response is better than no response at all. If the other party does not respond we feel that we aren’t important to them. We react the same way with God. When He doesn’t answer, we start thinking that He doesn’t care. But regardless of how we feel, the fact is that He DOES care and He’s either working on us or working things together for our good. He’s not going to share with us what He’s doing, we just have to have the courage to believe that the end result will be the right thing for us.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego where facing a death sentence in the fiery furnace in Daniel 3. They prayed and believed that God would deliver them but they also realized that God might not answer their prayers. What was their attitude about that? (Daniel 3:18) If we pray and God doesn’t answer us, will we remain faithful or will we turn back to some familiar habit? Can God trust us when He doesn’t answer us? God didn’t deliver the three Hebrew children FROM the fiery furnace but He was in there WITH them.
In times where we lack confidence in our prayers or when we struggle with unanswered prayers, you and I must press through with a sacrifice of praise. It is a sacrifice because we don’t feel like praising. We must offer up praises even when our conditions aren’t right. We should get our minds off of the prayer request and on to the praise. It isn’t easy. It takes tremendous focus and discipline to offer up praise in the time of a frustrated prayer life while in the waiting room of God’s divine purpose.
Sounds to me like you answered your own question. I believe God always answers our prayers, perhaps not in the way we wish, but in HIS infinite wisdom. Relaxing in the knowledge of HIS word, He keeps his word. Stop trying to reach for the answers. Perhaps if you asked HIM to share his thoughts on the matter and then expect HIM to answer...HE will answer you. He always does. Keep standing, believing. GOD BLESS YOU