When Your Prayers Are Unanswered

By: Helen Lescheid

When you pray and nothing seems to happen, it raises a lot of serious questions. The author shares some of the answers she received during a difficult period in her life when her husband underwent a severe depression.

(1) What is God doing? Sometimes it feels like God isn’t doing anything in response to our prayers, but like King David we have the assurance that He is listening (Ps. 4:3).

(2) Does God care? Even when we feel rejected and unloved, we can focus on how God has worked in our lives in the past. This is what David did when he began to doubt. Rereading some of the affirmations of God’s love in Scripture will restore your emotional equilibrium and lift your spirits.

(3) Is my petition according to God’s will? Often it is difficult to know how to pray. In Hebrews 11 we see that some believers received miraculous answers to the prayers while others were persecuted and died, but in either case their faith was commended.

(4) What is God’s timing? Our perspective on when God needs to act is usually quite different from His. Mary and Martha expected Jesus to rush to Bethany as soon as He heard that Lazarus was ill, but He delayed because He wanted to do a much greater miracle than just curing his sickness.

(5) Is God’s answer different from what I would choose? It may be that God’s purposes are being worked out through painful experiences. Even Jesus was matured through suffering.

(6) What is God trying to do in my life? We often view prayer as a kind of transaction whereby we come to God with a need and He responds with an answer, but prayer has another dimension. It is also interaction between humans and God. He is not just a Banker who cashes our checks. He is a loving Father who wants to spend time with His children.

(7) What could be hindering my prayer? Sin separates us from God and keeps Him from responding. That’s why it is vital to confess our sins and repent when we pray. We also need to realize that we are in a spiritual battle, and Satan can delay an answer.

(8) How is God working right now? At times our narrow focus in prayer keeps us from seeing what God is doing in other areas. During the time the writer was praying for her husband’s healing, God met many smaller needs and answered many specific requests before healing came.

(9) Does God expect me to do something? When the Israelites were hemmed in between the Red Sea and the Egyptian army, God told them to quit crying out and move on. The writer found herself in a similar predicament when her husband had to enter a mental hospital, but the Lord impressed her to “move on” by keeping life as normal as possible for herself and her children.

(10) Can I count on God to come through? Whether we can trust God depends not on the strength of our faith but on what kind of God He is. If He loves us and has our best interests at heart, then we can rely on Him. All the “what ifs” don’t matter. It would go against His nature to abandon us or treat us in an unkind manner.

(The above material appeared in the March/April 1992 issue of Discipleship Journal.)

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