If you stop to think about it, there are many, many times in scripture when God waited a long time to answer prayer. In fact, what strikes me is that most of the time God does wait a long time to answer! Waiting seems to be the rule, not the exception.
That’s why Isaiah 40:31 speaks so directly to each of our hearts. “But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”
Waiting is normal.
But sometimes God hears your prayer, and says “No.”.
- God said “No.” to the people of Israel when they longed for the bread and meat pots of Egypt. Learning to live as free people had turned out to be very, very hard, and they just wanted to go back to their old lives of slavery and quit trying to fight for their freedom. God said “No.” (Exodus 16)
- God said “No.” when a money-loving little prophet named Balaam wanted to do the wrong thing. He asked God to bless him as he went about his greedy little business. God actually spoke that “No!” to that prophet by the voice of a donkey! (Numbers 22:22-34)
- Naomi, I’m sure, prayed for the Lord to spare the life of her husband, but God said “No”. He died. And then I’m positive she also prayed for the Lord to spare the lives of both of her sons. But God said “No.” They died. Her bitterness rose up in her at what seemed to be the unfaithfulness of God. But he wasn’t, was He? His “No.” was actually “Not in the way you pictured it.” (The book of Ruth)
- Jeremiah prophesied and prayed for his whole lifetime for the children of Israel to repent and live wholeheartedly for the One, True God. In Jeremiah’s lifetime they never did. God said “No”…not yet. Jeremiah, but they will someday.” (The book of Jeremiah)
- Habakkuk pleaded with God to not send a horde of bloodthirsty Assyrians down to conquer Israel. God said “No.” And then God said “Stop asking, Habakkuk. I am God. I will do things My way.” Habakkuk 2:10
- The Apostle Paul pleaded with God to take away his affliction. But God said “No.” “My grace is sufficient for you.” (2nd Corinthians 12:9)
So…what conclusions can we come to about unanswered prayer?
- God always says “No.” to sin. If you pray for the right to sin, you won’t get an “ok” from God.
- Sometimes God says “No”, meaning, “Not in the way you pictured it”.
- Sometimes God isn’t saying “No”, He’s saying “Wait”.
- And sometimes He says, “Just trust Me.
We are called to pray. And as we pray we grow in our faith. Even when God says “No” we grow in our faith.
So if it seems like God is not answering your prayer, wait. We learn, I think, to pray more and more according to God’s will, when we go through times of waiting and sometimes getting silence when we want answers. We slowly begin to love to pray not because we think we can force God to do our will, but because we are beginning to love His will so much.
Why Hasn’t God Answered My Prayer?
Here’s the answer: He is.