Unanswered Prayers – God must not be real.
Unanswered prayers are a big part of Christianity. They aren’t necessarily a good part. They certainly aren’t a fun part. Nevertheless, if you have been a Christian for any amount of time you are likely to have unanswered prayers. As a matter of fact, most non-Christians probably have unanswered prayers too. In some (maybe even many!) cases this might be why they aren’t a Christian. They say things like “If God were real, he would answer my prayers.” I heard someone say this on a tv show recently.
Three Problems with “Unanswered Prayers” Thinking
If you are a learned Christian, you might notice a few problems with that statement. First, you would know that God does not always answer prayers with a yes. There are plenty of times he answers no. He even answers his own son (you know, Jesus) with a no Luke 22:42. If he is going to answer Jesus with a no, then we can rest assured we are going to get plenty of no answers to our prayers. Sometimes God also might even answer with a wait or a “have faith.”
Second, you might know that God always answers prayer. In such a case we might just not know what his answer is for one reason or another. It might be that we are not able to hear his reply because of some issue going on in our lives. Or, we might not be listening well enough 1 Kings 19:12.
Third, you might consider why God would answer the prayers of someone with that attitude. James 4:13 is a fantastic example of why so many prayers go “unanswered” or rather, answered with a no.
You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
God ≠ Genie
God isn’t just going to answer every prayer we send his way the way we want him to. A misinterpretation of Jesus’ words might lead to this conclusion, but God is not our personal genie. (Nor does he work like a smartphone). He owes us nothing. As such, our selfish prayers that are against his will are going to go unanswered, or answered with a no. This is why tons of people do not win the lottery all the time. It’s why we don’t receive things that we want just because we ask God. If anything, God is more like Santa Claus. You can sit on his lap and demand different things, but that doesn’t mean they are going to miraculously show up under your tree.
Furthermore, God does not answer our prayers just because they are selfless either. For example, we might pray that God heals a complete stranger. There isn’t any real benefit to us personally if he heals them or not, and yet the prayer received a no answer. This can be even more puzzling because now we are praying for someone else’s benefit and yet God is still silent. So what gives?
It is an improper conclusion to say that God does not exist because prayers are unanswered. Romans 8:26 says “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” Many times we are not praying the right things. We need to align our hearts with God in order to pray within his will. I fully believe that our prayers can affect how God moves. However, we are not going to manipulate him with our understanding of a Bible verse.
God’s Rules ≠ Our Rules
God does not play by all of the rules humans think he should play by. This does not give us the right to cause us to disbelieve in him. Our unanswered prayers should be a reminder to us that we need to set our hearts on things above, not on earthly things. Perhaps God is ready for a person to pass, or he wants them to be sick or maimed for some reason. We may never know why God does the things he does, but we need to make sure that we are not blaming him for things that we think are bad.
Consider this, would it be fair to sin, get hurt, and then pray to God asking him to heal you? There are plenty of times where God’s love supersedes our foolishness, but at the same time we cannot be all that surprised when he allows us to live with the consequences of our actions.
At the very least, why would God answer the selfish prayer of someone who doesn’t believe in him? If you are simply praying because you are hoping to get lucky by the magician in the sky, chances are you are going to be disappointed. However, even this is an aspect of God shrouded in mystery. God does answer the prays of unbelievers and at times this is a way that he works to draw people to him. God does what he wants when he wants. If he wants to break the rules he will, the rules that he makes are for us to follow in order to live full lives.
So in conclusion,
God does not leave our prayers unanswered. He may be answering no a lot more than we want to admit. This is because our hearts are inherently selfish. We do not actually know what is best for us. This is why it is important that God answers no and wait sometimes. I am sure if you really stopped to think about it you can recall some foolish prayers that you made. God likely said no. And yet, you still believe. Our faith and belief an God cannot hinge on whether or not God answers prayers the way we want him to. We need to have a faith that thrives regardless of how God is moving in our lives and in the world.