She then went on to explain how she had prayed for someone and God helped the person that very day. As Christians, we’ve all had similar experiences. We ask God for something and he gives it to us. God answers our prayers.
But what about all the times God doesn’t give me what I ask for? Why aren’t those prayers answered?
In 1990, the singer Garth Brooks released what would become one of his greatest hits. It was a song about an experience he had years earlier at a hometown football game. He and his wife ran into his old high school flame.
As he introduced them, his mind couldn’t help but think of the way things used to be. He remembered how every night in high school he prayed that God would keep them together forever. But as they talked, Garth Brooks looked at his wife and thought, “Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers.”
Garth Brooks realized God had something better for him. He thanked God for not answering his prayer.
Though I applaud the sentiment and love the song, Garth Brooks is not theologically correct. It’s not that God didn’t answer his prayer.
God said no.
The prayer of a believer will never go unanswered. God will always answer the prayers of his children, but sometimes the answer is no.
God at times says no to our prayers because what we ask for isn’t what is best for us. If you don’t get what you ask for in prayer, God may be saying, “I have something even better for you.” Where God closes a door, he often opens a window.
Just ask Garth Brooks.
When you don’t get what you pray for, though, God may not be saying no. He may be saying wait. In the Psalms, God tells us, “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me” (Psalm 50:15).
God promises to always say yes when we pray to be delivered from our pains and problems. He wants us to call on him the very day we experience trouble and promises to always deliver us. Yet, if you look closely, he doesn’t promise to deliver us that same day.
In his wisdom and love, God at times doesn’t take away our pains and problems immediately because he has plans and purposes we don’t always understand. He has lessons of faith and patience to teach us. We may have to endure a problem for years, but God will eventually deliver us – if not here on earth, then when we get to heaven.
For the Christian, there are no unanswered prayers. When God doesn’t give you what you ask, he may be saying no. He may be saying wait. But he is answering you. He does care. He does listen. He does answer you in love.
Even when the answer is no.