Did I Really Not Answer?

Some of our younger church members are suffering from diseases that are hard to diagnose and find cures for. This is occurring more and more in our congregation. I prayed for them for a long time but hadn’t seen any improvement in their conditions. After a while, I got discouraged and started wondering why I should continue to pray for them when God wasn’t answering my prayers at all. Then one day, God said to me “Did I really not answer your prayers?”

This word brought me back to my senses. I realized that God had answered my prayers for people’s health many times. My wife is a good example. The 5-year survival rate for ovarian cancer patients is less than 10%. But my wife has been healthy for the last 14 years as a result of prayer. There are many others who were once sick but now enjoy good health, obviously due to prayer.

I have one particular prayer list that also proves that God answers prayer. The list contains the names of 7 people who urgently need prayer. When my prayer for one is answered, the name is crossed out and a new name is added, so that the list always has 7 names. The list I have now is vastly different from what it was several months ago. God must have answered my prayers. I felt that God was not listening to me because I was impatient and expecting quick responses.

People give up and quit praying because they are too impatient. They expect God to answer their prayers immediately and when that doesn’t happen they complain and quit praying. But God is patient. The process of praying is more important to Him than the results. In the process of praying, we learn patience when there is no immediate answer. We learn hope when we continue to pray in hopeless situations. We learn faith when we persist in praying through impossible circumstances. We learn wisdom in crises when we seek God’s guidance in prayer.

Of course, God sometimes does not answer our prayers, but we must realize that this is because He loves us. Even human parents don’t give their children everything they ask for. They refuse their children’s requests when they think that giving them would hurt them. They also don’t give things their children want now when they think that doing so would prevent them from getting something better later. For example, they don’t give them chocolate if they think it may spoil their appetite for a healthier dinner.

So I made 4 reminders for myself when I pray:

  1. God answers our prayers because He enjoys seeing His children happy when their prayers are answered. My prayers should be specific so that I can tell when they are answered.
  2. When God does not seem to be listening, I must remember that God did hear my prayers and is working on them.
  3. When my answers are denied, I must remind myself that He didn’t answer because He’s preparing something better for me.
  4. Something better for me doesn’t only include something tangible in this world but also things intangible in the next world.

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