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How should a Christian respond to unanswered prayer?

translate 412teens GQkidz unanswered prayer audio

How many Christians have prayed for someone, only to see their prayers go seemingly unanswered? How many have prayed and perhaps have “given up” because they have become discouraged at how long it has taken to have their prayer answered? God hears our prayers and will respond, but He will do so in His timing which is for our good and His glory. How we deal with unanswered prayer is not just for our own benefit but for the benefit of others as well.

When we pray, we are engaging in the most precious and God-given act of communication with the One to whom we are accountable for all we do. Yet, when we pray or speak to the One in heaven, there are times when He seems not to answer. In one sense, God answers every prayer with a “yes,” a “no,” or a “wait.” In every case, though, Scripture suggests that our prayers are being dealt with. The Lord Jesus is tender and loving; He loves our communing with God the Father, for He, Himself, is our representative (Hebrews 4:15).

Often, but not always, prayer is unanswered because of unconfessed sin. God cannot be mocked or deceived, and He who sits enthroned above knows us intimately, down to our every thought (Psalm 139:1-4). If we are not walking in the Spirit or we harbor enmity in our hearts toward our brother or we ask for things with the wrong motives (such as from selfish desires), our prayers are negatively impacted (2 Chronicles 7:14; Psalm 66:18; James 4:3). Sin hinders our ability to be in fellowship with God, and it hinders our prayers. Unbelief (Proverbs 15:8) and hypocrisy (Mark 12:40) also negatively impact our prayers.

Another reason why prayer seems to go unanswered is that the Lord is drawing out of our faith a deeper reliance and trust in Him, which should bring out of us a deeper sense of gratitude, love and humility. In turn, this causes us to benefit spiritually, for He gives grace to the humble (James 4:6; Proverbs 3:34). Oh, how one feels for that poor Canaanite woman, who cried out incessantly to our Lord for mercy when He was visiting the region of Tyre and Sidon (Matthew 15:21-28)! She was hardly the person a Jewish rabbi would pay attention to. She was not a Jew and she was a woman, two reasons that Jews ignored her. The Lord doesn’t seem to answer her petitions, but He knew all about her situation. He may not have answered her stated needs immediately, but still He heard and granted her request.

God may seem silent to us, but He never sends us away empty-handed. Even if prayer has not been answered, we must rely upon God to do so in His own time. Even the exercise of prayer is a blessing to us; it is because of our faith that we are stirred to persist in prayer. It is faith that pleases God (Hebrews 11:6), and if our prayer life is wanting, does that not reflect our spiritual standing also? God hears our impoverished cries for mercy, and His silence inflames us with a sense of persistence in prayer. He loves us to reason with Him. Let us hunger for the things that are after God’s heart and let us walk in His ways and not our own. If we are faithful to pray without ceasing, then we are living in the will of God, and that can never be wrong (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18).

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How should a Christian respond to unanswered prayer?
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This page last updated: March 8, 2024