Some of you who have followed my goings-on this past week on social media know that last Monday a friend’s husband died, and that since then we have steadfastly pursued his resurrection from the dead. I wrote an article about it last week here, titled Staying The Course To Raise The Dead. Well, the funeral was yesterday, and unfortunately he wasn’t raised. I’ll be honest, I’m rather upset about that fact, and I’m really not okay with it either. With that said, when things don’t go our way, and our prayers aren’t answered, how do we respond? What can we do? There are a variety of responses people have, but I think there are a few things we need to keep in mind in any situation when situations go wrong and our prayers go unanswered.
God Is Never Wrong
The first thing we have to remember is that God is perfect. Getting angry at God never solves anything, because the fact is that He is never wrong. Get angry at the devil, get angry at the situation, get angry at whatever, but getting angry with God is just silly. He’s the only one who can fix things anyway, and getting upset with Him only puts up another roadblock between you and the Ultimate Solution.
Unanswered Prayer Isn’t Necessarily a “No”
God and I discussed this failed-resurrection on the drive in to work last evening, and He said this to me: “There are far more things going on in the spirit realm that influence your prayers than you have any concept of.” Usually when prayers go unanswered people assume God actually *did* answer—but the answer was “No”. I am pretty sure that is rarely the case. Certainly it does occur, as it did with Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:7-8, but more often than not, what we assume is a No is actually God sending an answer that got waylaid along the way. Remember back to Daniel 9 where Daniel prays, and then in Chapter 10 where he fasts for three weeks, and after doing so an angel visits him. This angel explains that he had been held up by the Prince of Persia, a demonic ruling spirit in the heavens, and this angel had to get help from Michael the Archangel to break through the demonic resistance to get to Daniel. This entire process of spiritual warfare took 21 days to occur, during which Daniel remained in fasting and prayer. Consider what might have occurred if Daniel hadn’t fasted and prayed until the angel got breakthrough and showed up. Presumably, he never would have gotten his answer. I really like something that Apostle John Mulinde wrote titled “How Satan Stops Our Prayers: Combat In The Heavenly Realms“. Similar to what happened in Daniel 10, it outlines just a few of the things that occur in the spiritual realms that influence whether our prayers are answered or not.
God Doesn’t Cause Bad Things To “Teach Us”
One of the more irritating things I hear people teach others is that God either directly causes or passively and indirectly “allows” bad things to happen to us so that we can learn. Right alongside that is that He doesn’t answer our prayers because He wants us to walk through the problems and experience the pain, difficulty, and suffering so that we can grow. Often cited is Paul’s thorn in the flesh in 2 Corinthians 12:7-9, where it is presumed God gave Paul an affliction of some kind in order to help him remain humble—which is basically the same as saying “to teach him a life lesson.” The Bible is full of references to God’s overarching goodness. No truly good God would engage in what is essentially abusive behavior to “teach” his kids to grow into maturity. This means that either God isn’t good, which is untrue, or that God isn’t abusive, and thus doesn’t cause or “allow” calamity to teach us lessons. I can think of a number of more constructive ways to teach my grandkids not to touch fire than holding their hands to a flame to burn them, thereby teaching them its dangers. Humans go to jail for that sort of thing.
I find it frustrating and difficult when prayers aren’t answered—I think we all do. But we have to choose the correct response to the situation. Sometimes all we can do is say “We’ll just have to get the next one.” It’s a highly unsatisfying answer, but sometimes that’s the only choice we can make (because I don’t consider giving up to be an option). Sometimes we have to continue to persevere in prayer, recognizing that if we continue long enough, we should eventually get the breakthrough. Sometimes we need to spend some time talking to God to learn what we should do differently in the future. While unanswered prayer doesn’t occur as a purposeful lesson, we can still learn from our experiences, and grow for the future.
At the end of the day, we must be rooted and grounded in the goodness of God, His love for us, and an understanding that even when our prayers aren’t answered how we want, we are sowing into a higher reality that we are pressing toward, and that our prayers never go to waste. As we continue forward, we will step into higher realms of power and authority, and eventually we will see things come to pass in a timely, and even easy manner.