By Shawn Carter, Meadows of Dan Baptist Church
As a pastor, I receive a wide range of questions regarding prayer. Many of the concerns people have is why their prayer is not answered. Prayer is such a powerful part of faith because it’s our connection with the Lord. But many feel inadequate or that prayer is mysterious. I wanted to take the time to share some of the things about unanswered prayer that I have learned over the last thirty two years. The following is not an all-inclusive list of reasons why some prayers are not answered but these are some things to ponder the next time it seems your prayers are not going anywhere or ineffective.
We are taught in scripture to have faith in our prayers, to ask earnestly, boldly, to continually be in prayer, and surrender to God’s will. Yet we also see in scripture that God answers in His wisdom and His answers are for our best. However, we still at times feel disconnected with our prayers and experience that nagging feeling that our prayers are not helping life. We must understand no matter in effective we feel, God loves us and has our best in mind.
Some of the answers God gives to us are positive and is a yes to whatever we have asked. While at other times some are not so pleasing to our ego and the answer is a no. Some answers come fast and is easy to understand. Some may take some time and become difficult to interrupt. Just as parents wait to give something to their children at the right age and time, so it is with God. He may wait to give the solutions to request at a time in which we have grown enough for what we asked for. Lastly, each one of us should examine our obedience to God and His commandments to see if there be any wrongs that hinder our petitions before the Lord.
Some teachers want to make prayer complicated and burdensome for people by implementing so many rules to follow. However, when Jesus taught on how to speak to the Father His concern was to show it was simply sharing from our heart. He said in Matthew 6:9-14 “and after this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.Give us this day our daily bread.And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” Do not make your talking with God hard or cumbersome but rather like you are talking with a close friend.
Having a relationship with Jesus is the key to meaningful prayer. Jesus taught His disciples in John 15:7 that “if you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you”. 1 John 3:22 echoes this truth, saying that we “receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him.
Friends, I want to leave you with some encouraging words today. Let us not blame God or ourselves for unanswered prayers. Nor should we make our time with God so taxing. Rather, let us draw close to God and seek out His thoughts for our life. We must see that our conversations with God actually can produce change in our world as James 5:16 tells us “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”