by Elaine Morley
As Christians we often talk about prayers, our prayer life, and sometimes even the uncomfortable topic of unanswered prayers. Is there really such a thing as unanswered prayers? Or is it just that we didn’t get the answer we asked for, or the answer we thought we deserved, or in the timeframe that was convenient for us?
Spiritual leaders have a lot of advice on how to be effective in our prayer life. They tell us to “verbally claim His blessings by speaking them out loud.” They tell us to “speak His words back to Him by weaving Bible verses into our prayers.” And they tell us to “say a prayer of thanksgiving to God as if our prayer was already answered.” These are all valid ways to strengthen our prayer life, but I also know that none of them guarantee that God will answer our prayer in our timeline, in the way we want it answered.
There are numerous Bible verses that relate to our desire to pray to our God and be heard. But anyone of them taken alone does not tell the whole story. Psalm 116:1 says, “I love the LORD, because He hears my voice and my supplications.” Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.” These are just two of many verses we can look at, and they all give us insight into what God wants our prayer life to be like, but they don’t spell out a recipe for success to get what we want from God, when we want it, and how we want it. No, God is too smart for that.
What I do know is that God wants us to be faithful in our relationship with Him and He wants what is best for us. Not always what is easiest, or what is pain free, or what fits into our schedule. I am very thankful that I have had many prayers answered by God in the way I hoped they would be answered. But many of my prayers haven’t been answered the way I wanted, even though they were good, honorable prayers.
So what are we to do when we get a permanent answer we don’t like, or when we’ve been on our knees for years, perhaps decades, asking for something and we haven’t seen the answer yet? We trust! We trust that God may be working things behind the scenes getting everything into alignment for His perfect plan. We trust that He may be preparing us, or someone else, for the answer we are praying for, and that the journey we are on is a necessary part of the preparations. We trust that God has something even better in mind, something so good we could never even imagine it! We trust that even God’s answer of, “no,” is part of His perfect plan that we may never understand until we are standing face-to-face before Him. And we trust that He catches every tear and He walks every painful step with us. In the broken place of “no,” or “not yet,” we can find ourselves closer to God than in the higher place of, “yes,” if we will just trust Him.
Elaine Morley and her husband, Paul, have been married for 20 years and have called Grace Family Church their home for the past seven. She has two wonderful step-children who still live in Minnesota, but visit Florida often. She serves as a Beautiful small group leader and loves the friends she’s made at Grace who help strengthen her walk with God.