When we talk about prayer, we often talk about all the wonderful ways that God has answered our prayers – I have a blog post all about that here. And it is wonderful. God is so powerful and answers prayers in incredible ways. But, whilst we know that God always hears our prayers, it is also true that sometimes God doesn’t answer our prayers. Then what? What should you do when God doesn’t answer your prayers?
There are so many reasons why our prayers may not be answered, and I can dig into some of those reasons another time, but for now we’re exploring our response. How we react to unanswered prayer. Those times when God doesn’t answer your prayers, it can be confusing, it can be heart-breaking. Why isn’t God answering your prayers when it feels like he’s answering everyone else’s prayers? So, what can we do in those times?
What should you do when God doesn’t answer your prayers?
One of the worst things that we can do, if we feel like God isn’t answering our prayers, is to stop praying. To stop praying will do nothing but push us away from God and cause us to resent him. Keep on praying. Take some time to talk to God about how you’re feeling, ask him why he isn’t answering your prayers in the way that you want. Then listen. Listen to what God is telling you. It may be that he wants to lead you in a new direction, he may want you to understand why your prayer has not been answered, or he may just want to bring you comfort.
It is also good to persevere in prayer. As I mentioned before, there are so many reasons why God may not be answering your prayers right now, but that doesn’t mean we should just give up. Keep on praying. Just because God doesn’t answer your prayers right now, doesn’t mean he never will.
Pray more specifically
Sometimes, when it feels like God isn’t answering our prayers, we may just be looking in the wrong place. If we’re praying for someone to be completely healed, we may miss the small steps of improvement that are happening, because when we look at the bigger picture, that person hasn’t been healed.
Have a look at the prayers that you are praying. How could you break them down into smaller steps, so that you can see more clearly when God does answer your prayers. I have a whole blog post about praying more specifically, which you can read here.
Spend time in scripture
Spending time in scripture is a wonderful way to remind ourselves of all the amazing things that God has already done for us, even when we may feel abandoned in our current prayer needs. The Bible is a source of encouragement and comfort in those times. We see so many stories of prayers answered, and of prayers not answered (have you read the book of Job?!).
The Bible is also a book full of important truth. Maybe we need to check what we are praying for against what God teaches us in the Bible. Is there perhaps a reason why God would not be answering our prayer? I have blog posts all about things that God has promised us, and things that God has not promised us, which can be a helpful reminder to check our prayers against so do check those out.
Seek wise counsel
Recently, I’ve been writing a lot about Christian community – why it’s so important, and what it should look like. And I think this is a really great example of when good Christian community can be so beneficial. When it feels like God doesn’t answer your prayers, make sure there are wise people around you that you can turn to. Mature Christians who can share wisdom with you. People who will pray with you and for you and alongside you. People who will encourage you.
Take some time to sit down with a mentor that you trust, who is honest, and speaks from a Biblical standpoint; and talk about the prayers that God isn’t answering. Seek their counsel, listen to their advice and see what suggestions they have for you. Whether they encourage you to persevere, point you to specific Bible passages that might be helpful, or if they have practical advice to help your situations, they will know you and your situation and be able to speak into that situation specifically.
What do you do when God doesn’t answer your prayers? Share your top tips for other people down in the comments!