by Jeff Dominguez
“WHY IS GOD NOT ANSWERING MY PRAYERS?”
“WHY IS GOD NOT GIVING ME WHAT I WANT?”
Do these questions sound familiar? I’m sure it does. Every Christian has asked this at some point in their lives. But why indeed?
This question is not easy to answer. Even the brightest theologians and pastors cannot tell as well. While the Bible provides a few possible reasons, we still can’t tell for sure. As humans, we are limited in our ability to comprehend the mind of an all-powerful God (Isaiah 55:8-9; Job 11:7; Romans 11:33-34). Another factor to consider is that it is a different case from person to person. The Bible has given us many possible reasons and we can’t tell for sure which of these the one is. For example, the Bible teaches that the prayer of a husband can be hindered if he dishonors or disrespects his wife.
“Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”
– 1 Peter 3:7
Another major reason is unconfessed sin.
“But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.”
– Isaiah 59:2
“If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.”
– Psalm 66:18
Another common reason is doubt, unbelief, and/or lack of faith.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”
– James 1:5-8
And there are still more reasons in the Bible like having a selfish reason (James 4:3), disobedience (1 John 3:21-22), and broken relationships (Matthew 5:23-24). Any of this can be the reason why God did not answer your prayer. However, the purpose of this article is not to inform you of these reasons. Rather, the goal of this article is to encourage you to remain hopeful despite having your prayers unanswered. I want you to continue trusting God even if He didn’t give you what you asked. To teach this, I will share with you the story of the kid in the candy store. In my Christian journey, this analogy has helped me to trust God despite my prayers not being answered. And now, I will share this with you hoping that it will help you too.
I’m not exactly sure in other cultures and countries, but here in the Philippines, we have a widely practiced parenting style of not letting the kids eat anything, particularly junk foods, before a proper meal. The reason for this is that when a kid eats junk foods before the proper meal, they lose appetite for it. As a result, they aren’t able to eat a solid and nutritious meal (it can also result in binge eating later). Of course, no parent would want this to happen which is why no matter how persistent a kid begs for snacks, the parent would do his or her best to refuse and not give the kid his desire.
This is a very cute practice that I frequently observe. The most memorable ones happen at the grocery stores. Because the products are all laid out, children impulsively pick things and beg their parents to buy them. Worst, if they get near the candy section, all hell break loose. While many parents give in, most of them refuse. There are many reasons for this but the number one reason is what I’ve just told you. To learn the implications, let’s examine this deeply.
Let’s start by examining the perspective of the child. In his perspective, his desire to eat snacks is good. He sees no harm in eating it. That’s is why when his parent rejected him, he gets angry and starts crying. Unbeknownst to many, children doubt the love of their parents when their demands are rejected. In their minds, they are trying to learn the reason why their request was rejected. And because their minds are not yet mature, they simply conclude that their parents don’t love them anymore.
Let’s move to the perspective of the parent. First of all, he didn’t reject his kid’s request because he doesn’t love him anymore. Rather, the reason he rejected his child’s requests for candy is that he’s planning to treat him to a buffet in a very good restaurant. If the child eat snack foods prematurely, he might lose his appetite later in the restaurant. Certainly, explaining this to the child is difficult. A child’s mind cannot comprehend the mind of an adult. The best thing the parent can do is to encourage his child to trust him. No parent would want to reject his kid’s wishes, but because of his caring love, he has to reject some of his wishes to prepare him for something better.
At this point, I am sure you already know what I am talking about. Yes, we are the children and God is the parent. Like the child, we also ask our Father in heaven to give us things that we believe are good for us. And when God rejects it, we also look for answers. And sadly, just like a child, we also doubt God’s love. By not giving us something that we believe will make us happy, we immaturely judge God and conclude that He doesn’t want us to be happy. But through the analogy of the kid in the candy store, we now have an idea regarding God’s perspective. Just as Jesus taught, God is a loving Father who wants good things for His children. He said:
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”
– Matthew 7:7-11
It is important to note that aside from being a good and loving Father, He is also a responsible parent. He is ready to reject our prayers and desires if, in His wisdom, it won’t be good for us. Think of this, if He allowed us to have candy, we might lose appetite and not enjoy the buffet later. So you see, by denying our immediate requests, God prepares us to enjoy His special treat later on. Just like a child, it’s really hard to understand the plans of our heavenly Father. But as the Bible is teaching us ever since, God is not asking us to fully understand Him or His plans; He is simply asking us to trust Him. He wants us to believe in His goodness and wait patiently.
To support this, I invite you to look at the following verses:
“The smallest family will become a thousand people, and the tiniest group will become a mighty nation. At the right time, I, the LORD, will make it happen.”
– Isaiah 60:22 NLT
“And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will He hears us.”
– 1 John 5:14
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
– Romans 12:2 NLT
Isaiah 60:22 reveals to us that God is practicing proper timing. He is not an impulsive being. He makes things happen at the best possible timing. Next is 1 John 5:14. This verse reveals to us that one of the major reasons why God grants our prayers is because it is aligned to His will. And in conjunction, God’s will is not selfish or unfavorable to us. Rather, Romans 12:2 reveals that God’s will is “good, pleasing and perfect.” If we combine these ideas, we can conclude that God truly cares for us. His rejection is not an act of selfishness but love. It’s either not yet the right time or He knows that what we ask of Him won’t be good for us. Since He knows better, we can be confident that He is right in His decision not to give us what we want.
As I conclude, I am hoping that this article has given you a new perspective when it comes to unanswered prayers. I learned this the hard way through the many prayers of mine that weren’t answered. Like many Christians, I too was confused and disappointed with God. But here’s the beautiful part: Every time my prayers are rejected, something much better always happens. I’m sure you can relate to me. It’s that moment where you tell yourself, “I’m glad God didn’t answer that prayer!” This experience taught me that God’s plan is always much, much better. Just like Paul said, it’s more than we can imagine (1 Corinthians 2:9). It corrected my attitude when it comes to unanswered prayers and most importantly, it taught me to remain hopeful even when God said “NO” to my prayers. In my heart, I believe that He has a better plan and I simply need to trust Him and wait patiently. And after reading this article, I am hoping that this too has become your new perspective to unanswered prayers.
Lastly, I just want to share with you what I always say in my prayers. This is not new for it is also what Jesus taught us to say in prayer: “LORD, LET YOUR WILL BE DONE” (Matthew 6:10). By saying this from the heart, we surrender to God our desires and we declare His good, pleasing and perfect will to prevail.
To our loving God be all the glory and praises! God bless!!