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Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Frustration of Unanswered Prayer

“Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer
believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
Mark 11:24 NIV

I love to make lists and then cross things off of my lists as I accomplish each task. In my organized and impatient brain prayer is no exception. I want to put each prayer request on my prayer list, pray about it, get an answer, and then you guessed it, cross it off my list. Because of my impatience I have experienced frustration in unanswered prayer. Today’s verse puzzled me because I prayed for things that I didn’t get. At times I have refused to pray because I didn’t think God was much interested in answering my little prayers. I thought God was pretty busy with the “big stuff” in life, and didn’t have time for me. Then God began to teach me about prayer. I hope you are a faster learner than I am! The fact is unanswered prayer can be frustrating.

I have learned that it is important for me to understand what it is that hinders prayer. For sure sin and un-forgiveness in our life hinders our prayers. It is always a good idea to allow God to search our heart and cleanse us before we begin asking him for favors. “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Mark 11:25 NIV

Praying with doubt also hinders our prayers. Believing that God can accomplish what we ask for is very important. We should believe that God is able to deliver the goods even for the things that we believe to be impossible. We may wonder how God will answer our prayer or even if he will choose to answer our prayer as we have requested, but we must never doubt that he is able, because with God all things are possible. “But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave on the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.” James 1: 6-8 NIV

Asking with wrong motives hinders our prayers. At times we will ask God to heal someone we love simply because we love them and are not ready to let them go. Other times we may ask God for provision because we want to be responsible and provide for our family. I believe we can ask God for anything. I just try to be honest before God as to why I am asking. You see, God knows my heart and he knows I am human. God knows the difference in greed and need and he always recognizes love.

I am quite certain that the primary purpose of prayer is for me to open my heart up to God. Without prayer my heart remains closed. Prayer is not always to receive answers but it is always to receive him. God uses prayer to change me. God wants to reverse any upside down thinking that I may have about him or about others. God uses prayer to teach me about who he is. He wants me to see his attributes, his love, his power, and his glory. When I am able to wrap my mind around those things I am able to believe God for his answers to my prayers. Without trust and confidence in God’s ability to answer my prayers I do become frustrated with what seems to me to be unanswered prayer.

God answers prayer in many ways. “YES” prayers are my favorite! Some are answered immediately, other times God’s answer comes to me as a feeling of peace. Other times I have experienced a yes answer that is confirmed to me through a scripture or God gives me a promise to claim as I wait for his perfect timing. To some of my prayers God says “WAIT” because all things are not ready. Even when I am pacing the floor and wringing my hands, God is busy preparing an opportunity or changing a heart. Sometimes it is necessary for God to change my heart or my circumstance because I’m not ready for the answer. God also says “NO” because my request may not be in my best interest. Sometimes I ask God for good when he in fact has something much better. I have seen that some of God’s delays are his delays of love. Many times God’s delays are simply setting the stage for God’s glory to be revealed later in an amazing way.

I have been guilty of becoming impatient in the wait. Sorry to say I haven't always understood God’s intentions. In frustration I have labeled my request as a no, or I feared that my prayer was either not heard or discarded. Other times I have believed Satan’s lie that told me that I did not have enough faith to get my prayer answered. I am so glad that God does not expect me to drum up large containers of faith. No. God simply says, come, seek, call, ask, and I will hear and answer.

As I walk the “waiting” path in my garden, I will gather baskets of forget-me-nots to lay at the feet of Jesus when I pray. What a comfort it is to know that God does not mind me reminding him that I am waiting for his answers. My heart’s cry is simply Jesus forget-me-not. Then he reminds me that he has promised that he will never leave me or forsake me and that his grace will be sufficient for me as I wait. My response is simply thank you Jesus that your answer is on the way.


Have you ever been frustrated by unanswered prayer?

Is there anything in your heart that would be a hindrance to answered prayer?

Which is more important – knowing how to pray perfectly or believing that God is able to answer your simple prayer of need that is wrapped in trust?

Do you find comfort in knowing that as you wait upon the Lord the answer is already on the way?


Dear God,

I thank your for the privilege of prayer. I am especially thankful that you are a God that hears my prayers. Even in the times that I do not hear, see, or feel an answer to my prayer help me to remain confident that you have heard me. Protect me from becoming frustrated with prayer. With all my heart God, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are able to answer any prayer that I pray. Help me to relax as I wait for your answers. Forgive me when I demand immediate answers to my prayers. Help me to trust you that all of my requests are going to be answered from a heavenly perspective in a manner that is in my best interest. Give me a trusting heart even if your answer is no. Even when the result of prayer is no and ends in personal pain and sorrow, give me the faith to know that you will still make this situation work for my eternal good.

In Your Son’s Name I pray. Amen.