“Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.” ~ Garth Brooks
Why in God’s green earth would I use this quote? Why do I want to think about answered prayers being God’s greatest gifts? Well, for one thing, it’s important to consider. We do not like to think about prayers not being answered. When they’re not, we say that God wasn’t listening to us, God doesn’t love us, God doesn’t care about us.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Let’s take a quick moment to look at “unanswered prayers”, shall we? I believe that we often think prayers went unanswered when, quite frankly, they were answered. However, we didn’t get that for which we prayed because God’s answer was “No”.
We don’t like no. We never did and we never will. We want all of our dreams and desires fulfilled. To think that God would say no to us rubs our ego the wrong way. God doesn’t always say yes. There are many times He says no.
One reason might be because He knows that what we desire is not good for us. Another reason might be that He knows if we receive that which we ask, it might bring us trouble and heartache. God doesn’t desire us to be miserable. God desires us to be happy and fulfilled.
That is why, I contend, Brooks speaks about unanswered prayers being gifts from God. The unanswered prayer keeps us out of trouble and/or keeps us from being miserable. We need to realize that so that we can let God off the hook for “refusing” to hear us. Once we do that, it is easier to remember that God always listens to us. He’s just not going to give us everything that we want.
So then, what can we do when we don’t think our prayers are answered? I would suggest that we examine our prayer. What did we ask God to do for us or to give to us? Is it something that we truly need? Would it be better if we asked for something else?
Was our request too selfish? Did our prayer incorporate the needs of others? Are there people in our lives or whom we know who are in worse shape and who desperately need prayer? Maybe we should pray for them instead of for ourselves? Prayer helps us to widen our perspectives and to realize that we are not in this all on our own.
Our prayers don’t force God to do anything. Our prayers don’t change God at all. Our prayers change us. Thus, we need to be open to God’s response and happy with what He grants. Pray to Him with an eager heart and accept what He gives with a willing soul.
FAITH ACTION: Don’t be disappointed if your prayers are not answered to your expectations. Trust that God knows what you truly need.