I recently posted a “WooHoo!” comment to a friend’s Facebook post of having had a prayer answered. It’s exciting to celebrate answered prayers, even if I wasn’t privy to the request. In praising God for answering the prayer, I began to think. My friend joyfully posted that her prayer was answered. I imagine that’s because it was answered according to her preference. And that is the thanksgiving we express. What if her quest was answered in a way that wasn’t in line with her preference? Would she have posted that the prayer was answered at all? Would she have recognized that she had received an answer to her prayer? Or would she view it as God not answering?
All prayers get answered. 1 John 5:14, “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” If what we ask is not according to His will, the answer may be “no”.
When children ask something of their father, the father sometimes has to say decline the request for the good of his child. Our Heavenly Father sees the full picture. He knows that there is something better for us, so He must decline a short-sighted request of ours.
There are times when our Heavenly Father doesn’t answer when the request is a demonstration of our spiritual immaturity. The answer isn’t a “no”, but rather a “you’ll grow and learn that this isn’t best for you. With that maturity, you’ll appreciate that this prayer request wasn’t granted.”
As a little girl, I loved my baby-dolls. Whoa to anyone who called them “dolls”. They were my babies. I slept with over a dozen every night. And every night I would pray that they would become real babies. Whew! (Insert brow sopping here). Thank you, Father, for not answering that one according to my preference. What would a 7-year-old do with a dozen crying babies?
As an adult, there have been times when I prayed and cried for something so precious to my heart and wondered why I wasn’t receiving what I had asked. Later, I found myself grateful for what appeared to be an unanswered prayer, because God knew what was best for me. In time, He delivered better than I could’ve thought to ask for.
Sometimes God’s answer is no. Other times, His answer is, “Hold on. I’m working on it.” For example, just because we announce that we want a new job, doesn’t mean that God will snap his finger and *poof* someone walks up and randomly offers you your dream job. God has other children of His to consider when we request of Him. Someone has to leave the job so that there’s an opening for you. You have to do your part and apply for the job. There’s an interview, and pre-hire process that companies adhere to. It’s also entirely possible that the door that God opens initially is the stepping stone to teach you what you must learn before moving you to that dream job. God knows this, because He knows you better that you know yourself.
Did God not answer your prayer? Yes, He answered. It’s up to us to be faithful. It’s up to us to find joy in all situations when it appears that our prayers are not answered according to our preference or our immature, “I want it now, Daddy,” timing.
Have faith, and you’ll know in every fiber of your being that God is working for your good (Romans 8:28). That level of faith gives you confidence. That confidence gives you joy in all circumstances. And that joy gives a peace that passes even your own understanding. Live in that peace while you remain watchful for your answer. Walk closely with God and you’ll recognize an answer when it comes; you’ll even appreciate when the answer is not to your preference.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6)
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)