“At times, it can feel like the loneliest place on earth, because it’s just us – alone with our unanswered prayers.” – Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson
“The greatest tragedy of life is not unanswered prayer, but unoffered prayer.” – F.B. Meyer
“Some unanswered prayers are only because God doesn’t want to do something for us. He wants to do something through us.” – Bill Johnson
Rejection can enter our lives in a variety of forms, but when our prayers seem to go unanswered, it can feel like all hope is lost. A spouse can walk away, a life-long friend can turn deceptive, and even a child or parent can abandon you, but when the God of the universe remains silent after your pleas for His help and mercy, the feelings of worthlessness and unimportance rise to a whole new level of intensity.
If Almighty God doesn’t seem to care enough to intervene in our moments of great need or uncertainty, especially when we plead with Him to get involved in our dilemma, then what does that say about us? As a child of God, are we really that valuable to Him? Does He really love us unconditionally? Is there something we have done unwittingly or unintentionally that has caused Him to turn a deaf ear to our prayers?
I know without a doubt that each of us has prayed about something, a special desire, a lack of clarity, or an unmet need, and the answer to our prayer was illusive or at times even non-existent.
How many times have you prayed for a desired outcome regarding a particular problem or concern and the polar opposite occurred? Maybe you prayed for healing and the sickness got worse or you prayed for a better, more stable job and you ended up losing the only one you had in the first place.
Lately, I’ve found myself dealing with the anxiety and rejection surrounding unanswered prayer – trying to come to grips with God’s continued silence, His lack of direction, and His perceived inactivity within my circumstances. Some of these prayers have remained unanswered for years now. Some of them have received answers in direct opposition to my deepest desires and dreams.
As I’ve meditated and studied about unanswered prayer, here is what I discovered and would like to share with you. If you’re like me, finding yourself struggling with prayers that have gone unfulfilled, I hope you find peace and comfort in the following:
God’s Indescribable Intimacy and Understanding of Our Life and Our Needs
There isn’t a person in this world that knows us as intimately as we do ourselves. No one can understand or connect with our deepest desires, secret thoughts, and the origins of the dreams we hold in our heart. Our friends and family members base their understanding of who we are on our history with them, the personal thoughts we have shared with them, and their limited observations of our behaviors and actions.
We may think no one knows us like we know ourselves, but God knows us with an intimacy that’s indescribable – beyond human understanding.
“O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my every thought when far away. You chart the path ahead of me and tell me where to stop and rest. Every moment you know where I am. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord.
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous – and how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.
How precious are your thoughts about me, O God! They are innumerable! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand!” – Psalm 139: 1-4 and 13-18 NLT
We can pray for our heart’s desire, but only God can connect with the deeper meaning behind that desire. You see, what we perceive about ourselves and our needs are merely “surface-oriented” compared to God’s understanding of them. As the psalmist above records, God made all our delicate, inner parts – watching as we were being formed in the darkness of our mother’s womb! He saw us before we were ever born 🙂
Think about how intimately and thoroughly God understands us, the origin of our desires and needs, and what is truly best for us in the long run. Think about how this intimate knowledge is connected to His intimacy and knowledge of our friends and family – working out and interweaving His plans for us as they relate to the needs and desires of our loved ones as well.
Here is where I find great comfort in the verse above: “You chart the path ahead of me and tell me where to stop and rest. Every day of my life was recorded in your book – every moment laid out before a single day had passed.” I may have needs and desires that I am praying about right now, however; only God knows what lies ahead of me in my life. He understands how current events fit into my future and the future of my loved ones. He sees and connects with needs I don’t even realize I have yet 🙂
When we pray and those prayers go unanswered, we need to trust that God understands our needs and desires in a way we cannot fathom or even imagine. What we perceive as a non-answer may indeed be the best answer we have ever received – the greatest blessing we have ever encountered! We may have a desire or need, but God can see the very root and origin of that need – understanding it in a deeper, more meaningful way.
We cannot see what the future holds in store for us – only God can. We must trust Him to answer our prayers in a way that matches what is best for us both now and down the road.
Don’t Turn Away – Turn Inward and Keep Praying
I think it’s a natural human tendency or response to turn away from God when we pray and receive no answer – when we express a deep desire or need and hear nothing but silence in return.
But when we turn away from God, we are heading toward more confusion, less understanding, and greater anxiety. Don’t get me wrong….This isn’t because God is punishing us for our lack of reverence or respect. If God represents greater revelation, greater wisdom, and deeper peace and understanding, then moving or turning away from Him only means we distance ourselves from these valuable things in our life – things only God can provide for us if we remain close to Him.
If God is Light and Life, then turning away from Him means greater darkness and destruction. This is why I encourage you to keep praying when there are no answers in sight – not because we must continue to beg and plead with God to meet our needs, but to move closer to His wisdom, His knowledge and His revelations surrounding our unanswered prayers. Continued, fervent prayer doesn’t move an immutable God to change His mind. Continued, fervent prayer changes us!
As I’ve prayed over my own unanswered prayers, God has revealed so many things to me about them. He has given me a comfort and peace about His presence in my life. He has revealed greater needs – those that outweigh the ones I’m currently praying about – showing me how truly concerned He is about what is best for me in the long run. Continued prayer has moved me closer to the Source of all Wisdom and Truth and it will do the very same thing for you my friend 🙂
This is why it is so important to turn inward when prayers go unanswered – listening for God to reveal more about Himself, more about your circumstances, and to help you see yourself more clearly than you ever have before.
When you pray and nothing happens, when you need answers and hear nothing but silence, get ready! Turn inward! Keep praying! God is getting ready to move your heart and share things you wouldn’t imagine!
Tonight, let’s trust that God knows us better than we know ourselves. Let’s have faith in His love for us, His intimate understanding of our needs and desires, and His clear vision of what the future holds in store for us – far beyond the immediacy and distorted interpretations of our current unanswered prayers.
Let’s make a commitment to not turn away from Him when we receive no response, but to move closer to Him, to turn inward, and to keep praying – confident He will reveal His wisdom, His peace, and His love for us within our circumstances.