Why Do Some Prayers Go Unanswered?

Friday, October 6, 2017

Matt 7-7

Before I even begin to try to answer this beast of a question, I want to say that it’s a question that is still tough for me, and you may find my answer completely inadequate. That’s fine. I just want to share some of my thoughts on the matter.

First, I want to go slightly off topic and talk about hearing the voice of God. Some people have the opinion that there are far fewer people in the world today that God chooses to reveal himself to than there were in the times of the Bible. However, I believe that even in the times of the Bible, God rarely let anyone hear his voice. The Bible has stories of a few select people to whom God chose to speak directly, people like Moses, Samuel and the other prophets and Jesus. This is only a handful of people and I don’t think it is any surprise that the vast majority of us will live our whole earthly lives without ever actually hearing God’s voice. There is no verse in the Bible that says that God will stop speaking to man, so I see no reason to exclude that possibility, but I think it is highly unlikely to happen to any one of us.

Now when we pray for something and that prayer goes unanswered, that can be hard to deal with. We can feel hurt and betrayed when we are praying for something particularly important, like the health of a loved one. When this kind of prayer goes unanswered, how do we reconcile that with 1 John 5:14? That verse says that if we ask God anything according to His will, that he will hear us. Does this mean that when we pray for healing and that prayer isn’t granted that for someone to stay unhealthy is God’s will? I actually don’t believe that. In fact, I believe very strongly that God desires with all his heart for us to live long, healthy and fruitful lives (Deuteronomy 6:2, 1 Kings 3:14, Ephesians 6:3). The reason, I believe, that prayers go unanswered, is because he is very hands-off with the Earth since creation. I know many people disagree with this, and there are certainly examples of God interacting with the world and providing miracles, but on the whole, the world behaves as he planned for it to. When we pray for something to happen, God uses us, people, to do his work. When we pray for healing, he provides humans, their brains and a logical world that makes sense when observed closely that have led to the development of medicine that can be used to provide healing. When we pray for a new job, he can change our minds so that we use the skills that he intended for us to have when he created us. In this way our prayers are answered. When they go unanswered, it isn’t that God has been answering your prayers up until now and has decided that this prayer is unworthy of a response. It is that what he has provided to answer those prayers (his servants), aren’t able to fulfill that request.

Like I said in the beginning, you may not find this answer adequate. That just means that we need to study further, because I believe that God always provides us with answers. If we can’t seem to find one, then maybe we aren’t looking in the right place (Matthew 7:7). Keep looking and keep praying so that we can become a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).

-Nathaniel Johnson





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