When God Doesn’t Answer Our Prayers
Are you going through a time when God is not answering your prayers? If you are in an abusive relationship, you are very likely praying God will change your partner so s/he stops abusing you.
I was in that place for 10 years. I prayed constantly for my husband, and that I would be a better wife. Well, I became a very submissive wife, but my husband never changed. In fact, he became more and more abusive until I needed a restraining order.
So, God didn’t really answer that prayer – at least not in the way I expected. I certainly didn’t expect that I would one day feel the need to divorce the husband I had prayed for so many years. And, while I was with him, while I was a submissive wife, I wasn’t the best wife I could be. If I had been, I wouldn’t have allowed my husband to disrespect me day after day. It wasn’t good for me, or him, or the marriage in the long run.
I sometimes look back and wonder what would have happened if I had stood up to his abuse many years before. Would we have needed to eventually divorce, or would my strength have prevented some of his worse behaviors? Maybe, but likely not. There were many red flags that he would one day become abusive that I missed when we were dating. So, if I had been more assertive, we probably would have divorced earlier.
Am I upset God didn’t answer the prayers to change my abusive husband’s behaviors? No. Surprised? If he had changed, even a little bit, I would never have gotten the courage to divorce him. Ten years later, I would still be married to someone who had abused me, AND I would never have met and married my amazing second husband. I would never know the intense joy of being with a kind-hearted, giving man whom I love like crazy.
Yes, our lives today can be quite difficult with the great number of kids we have (who have a great number of issues). But, the love we share between us makes up for all those difficulties. Also, I would never have become a domestic violence advocate, author and blogger. The many women I have helped escape their abusers safely might still be in their abusive relationships.
Thinking back, God did answer my prayers in a way. I am now a good wife, married to a loving husband who doesn’t abuse me. Not how I pictured it, for sure, but answered in His way, in His time.
Still, being in the place where God is seemingly not answering prayers is a rough place to be. We all want that miracle, don’t we? The bible promises God will answer our prayers in so many places. Psalms 37:4 says:
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
If God doesn’t answer our prayers, does that mean we aren’t delighting in Him, believing enough, or remaining in Him well enough?
I am no theologian, but I don’t think so. There are many examples in the Bible where God didn’t answer the prayer the way the pray-er wanted him to.
When God struck David’s newborn child with a severe illness (2 Samuel 12:15 – 18), David “pleaded with God for the child. He fasted and spent the nights lying in sackcloth on the ground.” During that time he wouldn’t even eat. What was the outcome of that prayer? “On the seventh day the child died.“, 2 Samuel 12:18.
The Apostle Paul
In 2 Corinthians 12:7, Paul admits, “I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'”
Luke 22:39 – 48 says that just before He was crucified, Jesus knelt in the Garden of Gethsemane, and prayed “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me“. It says he prayed so hard that “His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” We all know what happened next. . .
In a sermon by Yates Church, the pastor is forthright in saying there are some prayers God doesn’t answer. In one example, he says, “We’re told God heard the groans and cries of the Hebrew slaves in Egypt and he raised up Moses to be their deliverer. Moses said to Pharaoh, ‘Let my people go.’ And God’s people escaped Egyptian bondage and left for the Promised Land. But why didn’t God hear their prayers 400 earlier? No doubt there were devout Jews working in mud pits 100 years before Moses was born who prayed to be delivered from the heavy hand of the Egyptians.”
The pastor goes on to describe several reasons God doesn’t always answer our prayers. I invite you to check it out.
Courtney Reissig posits that there ARE no unanswered prayers in this blog she wrote for the Gospel Coalition. In the blog she says, “A ‘no’ now doesn’t mean a ‘no’ forever. As John Piper helpfully reminds us, God is often masterminding a thousand details behind the tapestry of our lives, and we only get to see three of them. Sometimes we see them immediately. Sometimes we don’t for years. Sometimes we don’t see them until we’re with him in eternity. And yet the truth remains: he is still in the business of answering our prayers.”
So, whether you believe God always answers your prayers with a “yes,” or sometimes says “wait”, or that He sometimes says “no” to your requests, I believe having God not answer your prayers is one of the most difficult tests of faith. Especially if you are praying in His will, something like, “Lord, please help my husband act lovingly toward me, instead of hatefully.” What can we do? When I am in that place, I cling onto verses like:
Hebrews 11:1 –
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
Psalm 11:5 (ESV) –
The Lord tests the righteous,
but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.
Romans 8:35, 37 – 39
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? . . . No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Question: What do YOU do when God doesn’t answer your prayers?
I pray you will feel God’s love, whether He is answering your prayers or not. Blessings friends!