When You Feel God Has Not Answered Your Prayers

Perhaps you are one of those people whose feels your recent prayers have not been answered by the God Almighty to whom you turned in desperation.

Or at least not answered in the way you had hoped.

  • Your elderly grandmother still died alone in her nursing home.
  • You lost your job in the pandemic and now the company has folded.
  • Your young adult child continues to make risky choices.
  • And chemotherapy has not proven effective in healing your cancer. Yet.

What do we do when we feel God hasn’t answered our prayers?

Well I distinctly remember that time I hung up the phone and burst into tears… 

That answer was not the one I had hoped for. Prayed for. I wanted “yes.” Would have settled for “wait.” But what I got was “no.”

I had followed Paul’s instructions: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank him for his answers.” (Philippians 4.6)  But how could I take the hardest step of all, to “thank him for his answers?” 

Yes, even if it wasn’t the answer I wanted. The one I needed.

I have lived my entire life on Paul’s words from God’s Word. In fact, I memorized this same translation as a teenager with my brand new dark green Living Bible. 

What are you worried about today?

Name three of your current concerns:

  1. _______________________________________________
  2. _______________________________________________
  3. _______________________________________________

Now, what would happen if you chose instead of worrying, to pray about them? Go ahead, do it. Offer each one to God in prayer.

A great model for life.

But only if we always end our prayers with “Thy will be done.” After all, that’s how Jesus taught us to pray. After being very specific about our wants, our needs, our great concerns, we then relinquish all that into the powerful and worthy hands of our Savior. Allowing Him to answer in His way and His timing. And then to thank Him for that answer.

Because, we really do want His will to be done. And even if we think we know exactly the path that should take, we must hold our expectations very loosely.

When I was much younger, Elisabeth Elliot once encouraged me to tell God everything I was feeling about His answers to my prayers. She pointed out that He already knew anyway. But she warned me only to share with others discreetly; “God can take it — others sometimes can’t.”

From what she had shared, I knew that even this strong woman of God occasionally struggled with getting a disappointing answer to prayer as she told me,  “I have often asked why. Many things have happened which I didn’t plan on and which human rationality could not explain. In the darkness of my perplexity and sorrow I have heard Him say quietly, Trust Me. He knew that my question was not the challenge of unbelief or resentment. I have never doubted that He loves me, but I have sometimes felt like St. Teresa of Avila who, when she was dumped out of a carriage into a ditch, said, ‘If this is the way You treat Your friends, no wonder You have so few!'” (Elisabeth Elliot)

In the Old Testament God, through the prophet Jeremiah, not only encouraged us to cry out to Him, but assured us that He would always answer. “Call to me and I will answer and reveal to you wondrous secrets that you haven’t known.” (Jeremiah 33.3)

That answer? The one you didn’t want? It may just contain a “wondrous secret” later to be revealed.

Trust Him and keep praying. Always with thanksgiving.

under the mercy, Lucinda

“Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity & Strength”

©2020 Lucinda Secrest McDowell

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Lucinda Secrest McDowell is a storyteller and seasoned mentor who engages both heart and mind while “Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity & Strength.” She has authored 15 books including “Soul Strong – 7 Keys to a Vibrant Life” and “Life-Giving Choices – 60 Days to What Matters Most.” She writes from “Sunnyside” cottage in New England and shares encouragement at LucindaSecrestMcDowell.com

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  1. lucindamcdowell on September 13, 2017 at 7:20 am

    Thanks Jim. Taking it to God – the only way to get through this crazy life… Lucinda Lee

  2. lucindamcdowell on September 16, 2017 at 5:05 am

    Our friend Amy Carmichael is very wise… Thanks BFF!

  3. lucindamcdowell on September 16, 2017 at 5:06 am

    Thanks Emily – so true! But a discipline to do it…

  4. Maggie Rowe on August 5, 2020 at 11:23 am

    Thank you Cindy. This is something we’ve all experienced and a word we all need. We are on our way to a funeral that would not be happening if God had answered our prayers in the way we hoped.

  5. Maureen Miller on August 5, 2020 at 12:43 pm

    Thank you for these wise words, dear friend. Many (me!) need to be reminded, especially now. So timely and true.

  6. Linda Mackillop on August 5, 2020 at 1:35 pm

    Thank you, Lucinda. Perfect for the start to my day. I needed to lay several things before Him and trust His will.

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