Garth Brooks has a song called “Unanswered Prayers” where he is thanking God for prayers that weren’t answered and he was better off. I think most people feel there are unanswered prayers but as I continue to study prayer I find out all prayers are answered. That’s right, God answers all prayers but in different ways.
I think first we need to differentiate between unanswered prayer and delayed prayers. The definition of unanswered is not answered or responded to. God responds to all prayers. The definition of delayed is to postpone or deter. Now God has a plan for your life that may or may not be aligned with His plan but He hears prayers immediately. We may interpret that as delayed but definitely not unanswered.
Patience with prayer is imperative. We know that we are not to make demands on God but to speak to God about our needs and concerns. We as humans may be impatient or controlling with our prayers but usually it is because we are desperate for an answer. Desperation does not promote being humble or genuine which is necessary in prayer. Desperation and controlling is in direct conflict with being patient. Rick Warren once said, ” God tests me before he blesses me.” Patience is a test.
I do want to clarify that when I say test, it’s not God seeing how smart I am or what my skills are. He is seeing how patience I am when I ask for help. He wants your full submittal, cooperation and trust with His answer. This may not be the answer you want but remember it is God’s answer. God’s answer and timing is always perfect so we must be patient while we are tested.
Another thing I learned from my prayer study is that we want God to remove the symptoms of our problems. God wants to cure the disease. As I told you before that in my past I have spent money foolishly and needed help getting out of debt. I kept thinking that I would have a big sale and could clear my debt but instead my sales were diminishing. I wanted quick relief from my debt but God wanted me to learn not to waste money. Once I recognized my spending was a problem just like alcoholism He cured my disease. He helped me find the money to clear the debt, the strength to cut up my 17 credit cards and think long and hard before making a purchase. God cured my disease but the enemy tries to weaken my immune system every now and then with temptation and I must turn back to prayer for strength. God’s cure for my overspending must be taken daily to stay on track.
There are several things I learned about being patience through delayed prayer that I would like to share with you. One thing to know is that when you are praying persistently for what you need you are focusing your attention of God. You are communicating with God sincerely about your need. This removes the control factor we tend to have as a human thinking we can fix everything ourselves. Focusing and trusting in God makes your outcome clearer and better.
Persistent prayer also helps me grow and learn more about me. For example when I practice patience while praying for something I learn that I can become calm and quiet to better understand why I am praying for this need. Back to my example, when I prayed for God to help me with my debt my prayers made me understand my lack of self confidence. I learned I spent to feel important with material goods. When I quit spending constantly and giving to others I grew and matured through prayer.
Rick Warren also teaches God’s four answers to prayers. This clearly shows that God does answer all prayers but we are a catalyst in how He choses to answer. Let’s look at those answers.
There are prayers that you may feel are unanswered because God said “NO”. What God is telling you is that what you are praying for or requesting is not right for you. This may be you are praying for a marriage proposal from your boyfriend but God knows this is not the right man for you. The answer is no because He knows the outcome would not be best for you and He has something better planned for you.
Another answer God gives to our prayers is , “GROW”. This simply means God feels you are not mature enough or ready for what you are praying for. For example, maybe you are praying for a promotion at work but your don’t receive it. God is saying that in due time you may receive that promotion but right now you may fail because you don’t have enough experience. You need to continue to learn and improve before receiving this prayer blessing.
God also answers, “SLOW” when the timing is not right. I know that after I had my daughter, Lexie I wanted another baby right away. I didn’t get pregnant because God was telling me to move slow on this request. He knew my first husband was going down a bad path with methamphetamine without my knowledge and my marriage would fail. God knew it would be too difficult for me with two small babies. Not understanding at the time He knew in the long run just one was better for me because of the tough road I had ahead of me.
The final answer we sometimes feel is the best answer is, “GO”. This means the timing is right, my character is right and it’s full speed ahead. This is exactly how I felt when I founded Grateful Gratitude. I asked God to bless me with this ministry and help me to touch others through His Word. I wanted to give words of encouragement, hugs of hope and the ability to listen to others and ease their suffering. He answered that prayer wholeheartedly because He knew I was capable and mature enough to handle this ministry. I continue to ask for His love and support daily.
I hope that my study of prayer has helped to understand that there are no unanswered prayers. Prayers that seem unanswered are just delayed prayers. When I understood this it gave me an awaking of God’s plan for me. I understood that it is so much easier to know God has a plan for each of us and He wants a beautiful life for all of us. So now when I pray I say to God that I trust in His plan and if this request is not as He has planned I am ok with that because I know He is going to bless me with something better than I can imagine.
Please know I pray for everyone that reads this blog for peace, contentment and joy through God’s love. I truly want you to know God’s love fully with a blessed life.
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. John 5:14-15