Why We Should be Thankful for Unanswered Prayers
By: Jennifer Heeren
“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.” (2 Peter 1:5-9)
This Scripture passage speaks of making every effort to respond to God’s promises and add to my faith moral excellence, and to that knowledge. Then add self-control mixed with patient endurance. And godliness. And brotherly affection. And love for all. The more I learn and grow in those ways, the more useful I will be on earth.
I’ve prayed for many things over the years. Favor on job interviews. A loving husband. Car repair bills to be lower than I expect. Benign biopsies. A baby. My list of desires can go on and on.
I’ve also prayed for friends, family, and acquaintances. Healing from accidents and diseases. Cancer to go into remission. Successful surgeries. Safe travels.
God always answers our prayers. But the answer isn’t always a “yes.” Sometimes it is “no” and sometimes it’s “not now.”
Wouldn’t it be great if I could ask for something from God and He always answered quickly with a definite yes? It seems like that would be wonderful, but would it actually be a good thing?
Our whims aren’t necessarily God’s will.
I don’t always pray for His will. I need to take all my whims and thoughts to God so that He can shape them into something more fitting to the way He originally designed me. God doesn’t owe me anything, especially not my whims. However, He does promise me that He will provide the things I need—food, drink, clothing, etc.
We can’t see the entire situation.
I can only see what is right in front of me. So, I need to rely on the judgment of an omniscient God if I truly desire what is best. I can keep a prayer journal so I can read about things that I desired in the past. Then I realize that God did indeed answer a lot of those requests. Sometimes with an “immediate yes.” Often with a better “wait for this other thing.”
A yes to everything we want is not how we were created.
If I did get a yes to every prayer, wouldn’t that make me more of a god than God? He would be at my beck and call. I should always be coming to Him to ask if something is a good idea or not, not the other way around. God’s ways are so much higher than mine. He is able through His mighty power to accomplish infinitely more than I can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).
Unanswered prayers lead us to stronger relationships with God.
God wants me to come to Him with everything, not just get what I want and then forget about Him. He deserves my attention even when I don’t get what I want. God desires me to want Him, even more than what I’m asking for.
Unanswered prayers teach us to put our hope in God.
Psalm 62:5 says, “Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him.” My hope is in Him, not in my wants or even in my needs. He knows what I need before I even ask Him anyway. He is patient with me until I see my subtle real needs instead of my glaring wants.
Unanswered prayers serve the purpose of leading me to the ultimate gift—peace of mind and heart (John 14:27). A peace that comes from trusting my Creator and Designer with EVERY aspect of my life. I’m not saying that this is easy to do. It’s a constant battle of my will vs. His best. But when I stop fighting, there is a peace and an absence of fear. Peace of mind and soul is much better than a temporary “yes.”
Editor’s Note: Part of this devotional was taken from Why We Should be Thankful for Unanswered Prayers by Jennifer Heeren. You can read the full blog post here.
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