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Unanswered Prayer


I’m a podcast junkie. I listen while I’m in the car or out walking, and find satisfaction in learning new ideas or remembering things I already know. As I was listening to Annie Downs’ podcast, That Sounds Fun, her guest said these words: “I didn’t get the prayer I wanted, but I got the presence I needed.” I stopped immediately to write down those words. The words affected me to the point that I wanted to explore the times in my own life where I prayed and received an answer that was not the one I was hoping for.

I mentally began to tick off the moments of unanswered prayer and times the answer was not what I had prayed for–losing my parents, a son going through a divorce, kids living in another state, and going through my own divorce. I felt justified in silently saying, “See all the times I prayed and you didn’t come through God.” Let me tell you right now, that is not a good place to leave things with God. His answer, whether different or the same as our heart’s desire, is still good. The bottom line in the space of unanswered prayer is that God is still there. His presence is guaranteed.

The first six months of 2019 have been a time of learning some hard lessons. God led me on a journey to see that where I was, how I got there, and the place He wanted to take me were dependent on Him. All of the pushing and shoving I did to move into independence ended up backfiring. I learned again that all things are possible with God, not without. Instead of leaning in and relying on the people around me, I isolated myself and believed I was better off figuring it out on my own.

When I get stuck in my own head and thoughts, I lose sight of the truth of how God sees me. I forgot that His plans are always better than what I imagine. I am grateful that God did not leave me stuck inside my own thoughts and beliefs. Spending five minutes a day in silence with God opened up my heart enough to let God’s truth begin to seep in. That small window of time provided a segway for God to enter. His presence became an answer to prayers.

Learning that prayers sometimes go unanswered led me to understand that each moment in prayer opens the door for God’s presence. Even though I pray for specific outcomes, God still shows up and His presence is all I need. In the end, that is answered prayer. God loves nothing more than to spend time with us, and when we enter into prayer, we are doing exactly that.

FOR FURTHER THOUGHT  I don’t have all the answers as to why prayers sometimes get answered and other times they don’t. My heart is to always pray the best for my kids, for instance.  I never thought my son would go get divorced after a year and a half of marriage, but he did. Now, I wonder what happens if instead of asking for outcome, I instead pray for redemption and restoration in all, whether if it is for my kids, a job, a family member or something else.  How would that impact the outcome of my prayers?

Take some time this week in prayer to explore the idea of focusing on redemption versus outcome. Use the time to just be with God–no agenda, no specified outcome, just seeking His presence. God honors the time you spend with Him and loves that you invited Him to be with you.  Consider writing down what you learn or feel during that time, and then take a few minutes at the end of the week to read through what you journaled. Is there a pattern emerging? How do you feel about time with God with no specific agenda? Does the presence of God feel like answered prayer?

I am a different person when I invite God into my day. I am learning that His presence is what I need and it fills the space of what I feel is lacking.  I bet you will, too.

PRAYER Heavenly Father – You are exactly who You say you are. I stand in this place of not always inviting You to be present in my every day and I ask that You forgive me when I push my agenda on You. You tell me there is nothing You won’t and cannot do for me and for that I am so grateful. Let me see You for the love and grace You extend and the hope You use to fill my soul. Let that be enough as I wake up each morning and invite You to join me throughout the day. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

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