If you’re really there, Lord, why aren’t my prayers being answered?
This is a question asked by many of us at different times regardless of whether we believe or not? How many times have you cried out, sometimes in desperation, and just felt like no one was listening? How often have you felt like you’ve been at the end of your rope, only to discover that you needed to hang on a bit tighter and longer before there was even the slightest glimmer of hope. You may even have had to let go. How many times have you prayed consistently for the same thing, but the answer is just not there?
You see, our human nature tends to take over, promoting a sense of needing to be in control of whatever situation we find ourselves in. In the absence of answers, it’s quite common and natural for us to look for our own solutions. We come up with our own plans and start to put them into place. We may do all the right things and for all the right reasons but, it’s not until they start to go wrong, or it doesn’t produce the results we were expecting, that we start to question and cry for help. Sometimes the places and circumstances we find ourselves in are not how we pictured ourselves at all, they are far from it. We do our best to change things but, sometimes, it’s just not enough. Instead of digging ourselves out, we dig ourselves in and the hole just seems to get deeper.
Then comes the point where, in that moment, we have nothing left to draw from; the new ideas compartment is empty and our well is dry. We may have uttered the odd prayer on the journey but was it truly heartfelt? Did it come from a place where we were totally dependent on God? Maybe it did, maybe it didn’t? There is a sudden realisation that it’s not something we can solve on our own. When we have nowhere else to turn, we suddenly remember to cry out to God. And then over time, when we don’t hear God or the answer doesn’t come, when heaven is silent, it’s tempting to just give up. Please don’t.
If we look in the Bible and in the book of Samuel, how long do we think that Hannah prayed for a child? In the book of Matthew, where we read about the prodigal son, how long did the father pray for his son’s return? In the book of Exodus, how long did Moses pray for the people of Israel?
It wasn’t that God didn’t hear their prayers. He did! They didn’t all get exactly what they had prayed for. I know there are some prayers that will never be answered according to what we can see and understand. God’s ways are not our ways and His thoughts are beyond our thoughts. In Psalm 139:4 (The Message) it says of God “You know everything I’m going to say before I start the first sentence.” Wow – that is amazing that someone should know me that well!
We shouldn’t expect to understand the ways of an almighty God. When I read about people in the Bible who prayed, what strikes me most is their earnestness, their persistence, and ultimately, their trust. Trust enough to know that even at the times when heaven is silent, God is always:
watching over us – Psalm 121:8 “The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.”,
protecting us - Psalm 121:5 “Jehovah himself will watch over you; he’s always at your side to shelter you safely in his presence.”
hearing our prayers - 1 John 5:14 “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”
Col 4:2 says” Don’t be weary in prayer; keep at it; watch for God’s answers and remember to be thankful when they come.”