Throughout the bible we are reassured that nothing is too hard or impossible for God, and that He is able to do any and everything according to His will (Jeremiah 32:27; Matthew 19:26; Job 42:2; Luke 1:37). He opened Sarah’s womb when she was 90 years old, raised Lazarus from the dead, and parted the waters for Moses. We are also reassured of God’s deep love and concern for His children. That the plans He has for us are good, and that His thoughts toward us are so precious and great in number, that they are like grains of sand (Jeremiah 29:11; Psalm 139:17-18). Although this is wonderful to know, it can sometimes make it hard for us to understand why God doesn’t seem to answer certain prayers.
Have you ever found yourself asking, “If God has the ability and power to do anything then why isn’t He answering my prayer? After all I’m only praying for what is best for my life and family. If He loves me, and only wants what is best for me, why is He allowing me to go through this pain?”
I know I have! In fact, I didn’t just contemplate these questions, I went to God and honestly asked Him these very same questions. Through much prayer and time spent in His word, God comforted my heart with the following answers.
He Knows Something I Don’t
“My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:15-16
Well actually, He knows everything. He sees the beginning and the end, He knows what’s going to happen in my life tomorrow, in a month, and even in ten years. He also knows exactly how I’m going to change throughout the years, and the type of woman I’ll eventually become. He sees the whole picture! He not only knows what specific events will lead me to live a fulfilled and blessed life in Christ, but also what I need to experience to become the woman He wants me to be. He is able to see the latter, when I can only see the now.
He Has Something Better For Me
“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!” Matthew 7:9-11
Just because I want or think something is best for my life doesn’t mean that it is. Maybe, what I’m praying for isn’t in God’s plan for my life because He has something better for me. I look at the disciple Peter the day he met Jesus (Matthew 4:19). Being a fisherman I’m sure he prayed many times for God to fill his nets with fish, including that morning when his nets were empty. He might have even wondered why God wasn’t answering a prayer that would enable him to provide for his family. What Peter didn’t know was that God had something far better in store for him. When Jesus walked beside the boat, He not only caused Peter’s nets to become full, but more importantly made him into a fisher of man. God’s plan for Peter’s life was greater than anything he could have ever imagined.
It’s Not The Right Time
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Ecclesiastes 3:1
Sometimes, God’s answer to a prayer is simply to wait for His perfect timing. Joseph is a perfect example of this. Out of jealousy, he was sold into slavery by his own brothers, accused of raping his master’s wife (when he simply rebuffed her advances), and subsequently went to jail for a crime he didn’t commit (Genesis 37-41). Joseph surely prayed many times to be delivered from prison, yet he still spent years there. During that time, God never forgot about him or stopped caring for and loving him. It simply wasn’t God’s appointed time for that prayer to be answered. God was setting the stage and preparing Joseph’s heart for him to rise to power in Egypt. Everything in our lives has a proper time as ordained by God. If we are patient and trust in the Lord, God will work in mighty ways to accomplish His purposes here on earth through our lives.
He Is Conforming Me To His Image
“We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5
If my prayers were always answered exactly the way I asked, and at the exact time I wanted them, it wouldn’t help me grow spiritually or in character. My motivation for coming to God would simply be to ask for what I wanted, not to seek what His will was for my life. I have found that the trials of life are both beautiful and painful. They are what God has used to draw me closer to Him and what has made my faith real. By God not always giving me exactly what I want, I have found peace and fulfillment in Him alone, not in what I ask from Him. He has become more important than the things I ask for, because I desire Him and His will for my life above all else. I want to yield my life and be in complete submission to Christ, just as He was to the Father.
There is Something Else
There are countless other reasons why God may not be answering your prayers in the exact way or in the time frame you would like. I’m not going to limit God by saying that these four answers are the only reasons behind the results of you or my own prayers. Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are His ways higher than our ways and His thoughts higher than my thoughts (Isaiah 55:9). God may desire to reveal something to you that you might not otherwise be able to see if your prayer was answered. He could be waiting for you to want Him more than whatever you’re praying for. He may not be delivering you from a trial because one day He may use you to comfort other women who will struggle with the same thing you are struggling with now. He may even be doing something that won’t even be revealed until you are face to face with the Lord in heaven.
I have come to realize that the “why” questions are not as important as the “who” question. I no longer rack my brain with the whys, but I rest in who God is. He is compassionate, merciful, gracious, and abounds in love and faithfulness (Psalm 86:15). He has caught every one of my tears, has never left me, and has heard every one of my prayers (Psalm 56:8, 116:1-2; Matthew 28:20). Not only has He heard every prayer, but He has and will continue to faithfully and lovingly answer each one with the words yes, no, or wait.
Sisters keep praying and “trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).