21 Days of Prayer 2022
Those of us who pray know that not every request is answered the way we wish. Unanswered prayers can cause us to doubt God’s love and goodness and be confused about why he might be ignoring us. Think of some prayers you’ve had in the past that never received answers. How did those experiences influence your faith in God?
J.D. gave several reasons why our prayers sometimes feel unanswered. The first: perhaps you are at odds with God, either living in egregious sin or an unbeliever. Take a few moments to examine your heart: do you truly love and live for God, or has your life resembled an unbeliever recently? What is motivating you to pray?
J.D. also offered the suggestion that some prayers remain unanswered because they are wrongly motivated. James 4:2–3 reminds us that we do not have because we do not ask, or we ask with wrong, selfish motives. As you reflect on prayers you are still waiting for God to answer, consider your motivations behind them. To what degree are they self-seeking or feeding desires to replace God’s rightful place in your life?
One other reason God might be waiting to answer your prayers. He has bigger, longer, and wider plans than you can ever know. In what ways does trusting that your situation is part of a bigger story help you endure more patiently? How well do you stay hopeful during the waiting?
Sometimes what we see as unanswered prayers are really God saying no or giving us a different option than what we prayed for. Think back to prayers that God did not answer positively but that led to something even better than what you asked for. How long did it take for you to see God’s grace in giving you that different answer? What good came out of the “no” he gave to your original prayer?
Of all the reasons God may not answer our prayers, it is not because he is ignoring or walking away from us. His character does not allow him to do that. J.D. reminded us that in the midst of what might seem like unanswered prayer, Jesus is with us and loves us. In what ways can Jesus’s presence with you and love for you help recenter your thoughts about God while you wait for prayers to be answered?
Remembering that God is sovereign—in control of our lives and well able to rule the world—will help us pray with more confidence. He is the God who made us, chose us, and, in Jesus, saved us. Whatever your situation, he’s fully aware of and able to work in it, he is with you, and he loves you.
Take time in the next day or so to write out thanks to God for specific prayers he has answered. Then write out the longtime prayers he hasn’t yet answered. Seeing those lists side by side, ask God to help you remember his proven faithfulness, love, and care for you even as you wait for other prayers to be fulfilled.