When prayers don’t work (or so it seems)

Nadia asked for prayer. She needed it. A huge obstacle stood between her and a dream, so we did what any believing sister would do: Knees to the floor, voices raised for Nadia. We prayed for victory over her struggle. We asked for peace, strength and wisdom. We thanked God for guidance and praised Him for defeating this challenge—we simply knew He would.

Three days later, I got a text from Nadia. Her dream was crushed. The obstacle won.

Tough times come when our prayers seem ignored. Or even worse, deliberately rejected. It’s risky to trust God for a particular thing, only to feel crushed and confused when results come up short. Or when we get the text saying, “Did not pass” or “The deal fell through” or “It’s malignant.”

Nadia’s disillusioned words still ring in my ears: “I love the Lord with all my heart. So why did He let me down?”

Oh, precious Nadia (and every sister struggling with God’s “no”), I’ve felt the same, especially when prayers were desperate and heartache was fresh. But please, through the tears, hear some sweet Biblical truth: God has not let you down. He is not ignoring you, and He is not cruel. Rather, He is actively up to something good. Very good, in fact. And it may have nothing to do with the issue at hand.

Try, just for a bit, to think bigger than your life. Consider Almighty God with His timeless, flawless, ultimate plan. It’s a huge, intricate network of crisscrossing people, paths, and purposes. You’re part of it, for sure, but the trouble is, you can’t see His Big Picture. So you pray, asking for things—good things, mostly, things He’d surely approve. Your viewpoint, though, is limited. And sometimes, as disappointed as you might be, the requests don’t fit the plan. It’s then, worthy daughter, that you must trust the Father’s wisdom, as well as His “no.”

The Bible doesn’t say it’s easy. But it’s a necessary journey to warrior-like faith. It’s the secret to joy. And as strange as it seems, the seasons of “no” can actually be sweet. Here’s why:

  • We see that God wants the best for us. Once you go all in, trusting Him with every breath–even through the “no’s”–you’ll start to comprehend: God blesses and protects through prayer. (Sometimes He reveals why “no” was the best thing to come your way.)
  • We learn that God can handle our ickiness. If you’re feeling let down, tell Him. If your heart is angry, He wants to know that, too. Through raw emotion God becomes personal, comforting, real. (He knows our hearts anyway—Why not just let it all out?)
  • We understand that God’s in charge. There’s nothing like a disappointing answer to switch the focus from us to Him. God is Sovereign. We are not. (Sometimes we get things out of whack—Like He’s supposed to “okay” what we think is a good idea.)

If you’re in a season of “no,” then I’m begging you: Run straight toward Jesus. Be ready to listen, learn, grow, heal. Do not, for one second, let the seeds of bitterness root in your heart. Just keep praying, processing, believing. You’ll come out on the other side, I promise, and you’ll be STRONG. You’ll know—KNOW—that God’s love guides your life. It’s a beautiful purpose, by the way, one that’s designed to share His love and give Him glory. That’s the reason we’re here. And I’m praying, day and night, that all goes according to plan.

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“We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

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“This is the confidence we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know He hears us in whatever we ask, we know we have the requests we have asked of Him.”  (1 John 5:14-15)

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5 thoughts on “When prayers don’t work (or so it seems)

  1. G. says:

    I needed this in the worst possible way. My Christian husband of 28 years is filing for divorce because of health issues I’ve developed in the last few years. He feels “trapped” in having to care for me. I have begged God for a year to bring him back. I just can’t wrap my head around why the husband I have trusted and the God I have served all these years are letting me down.

    • lower case b says:

      i’m so sorry you’re hurting…
      that your trust has been broken
      and that you feel like your faithfulness has let you down.
      somewhere on this blog i’ve read that God loves us like crazy. i don’t know what i think about that, but if it’s true, and God loves me like crazy, then He must love you like crazy too. could it be that He’s crazy in love with both of us, even when we don’t know what we think or we feel like He’s turned His back on us?

      if i was brave enough to take this thought, which seems wreckless and ficticious, and i were to move it out of my head and into my heart…
      do you think you could too?

      i’m not brave capital G., but at this point i have nothing to lose, and the thought that someone might love me like crazy, is intriguing, but the thought that He has loved you and even me this whole time, well that just makes me sink into myself.
      what if He’s been loving me all this time even though i find it completely illogic?
      what if He’s never left your side even though heartache might’ve derailed you?
      maybe it means that we’ll be okay, you and i…
      that He’s still near
      maybe closer than ever before
      loving us like crazy…

  2. Blessy says:

    praise GOD !! HE deserves all the glory forever !! HE is immeasurable, uncontainable, untamable. Thanks for the encouraging message !! God bless U !

  3. Inspired Ink says:

    I wish I could offer comfort to others here, but all I can say is that this brought tears to my eyes. I’m struggling too, have been for years. My daughter turns 16 tomorrow … and I have not seen her in 2-1/2 years. Through a bitter divorce, and circumstances I still can’t believe have happened, first her father wouldn’t let me see her (in spite of shared custody), and then she somehow had horrible thoughts toward me. Now they have moved and I don’t know where they are. This week has been hard, watching her birthday approach. I always believed God had it all under control and all I had to do was trust, but … it’s been really hard the past few months as it feels to me as though time is running out.

    Your message is very timely to me. It will give me something to think on. Bless you.

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