Responding to a “pew to pulpit” question:
Why does God sometimes seem not to answer our prayers?
God knows more than we ever possibly could, which means we will not always know what God is considering, implementing, and working on when it comes when it comes to prayer.
We know with a certainty that God always hears our prayers, and it would be nice to always get a concrete answer with them, but that is not how prayer and God work.
As far as scripture goes, there are some hints as to perhaps why prayer may go unfulfilled or unanswered some of the time.
“You ask and don’t have because you ask with evil intentions, to waste it on your own cravings.” (James 4:3 CEB)
Sometimes our prayers might not be answered because we are asking for selfish reasons. Our intentions may not be evil as we understand the word, but we may be asking from a selfish place, a place where our own satisfaction is driving our prayers.
Some prayers are simply unreasonable in life. For example, if we pray for a pile of money to appear on our doorsteps and that does not happen, we put ourselves in a predicament where if that unthinkable does not happen we take it out on God. Eventually, this prayer path leads us to test God, which is never a good spot to be in.
The harder prayers that go unanswered are the ones for healing for a child, a friend, a loved one or a parent that do not always come to fruition. But maybe the resurrection is sparing them from something else down the road that we are unable to see. Or, maybe that’s what their life was meant to be, which is why we need to live each day to the fullest and appreciate all of the ones we get.
Sometimes a prayer has to be repeatedly prayed. Sometimes a prayer has to be prayed genuinely and by more people.
Though we may wonder why prayers appear to go unanswered, rest assured, God hears them.
While we may not know why some prayers seem to be unanswered, we do know that we are a people that are called to pray.
Jesus taught us the Lord’s Prayer, which we say every Sunday. Throughout scripture, God implores us and encourages us to pray.
It’s not always about the result when it comes to prayer. Sometimes it’s about the process. It’s about reminding us of the importance of communicating with and listening to God. It’s about working on our relationships and focusing our hearts on others instead of ourselves.
Perhaps in remembering that we can begin to usher more peace and love into the world and we can hear or see just how God is answering our prayers.