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  • Heidi J. Smith

When Prayers Aren't Answered


Photo credit to Priscilla du Preez from Unsplash

Have you ever doubted if prayer worked?


I know, I'm not suppose to ask questions like this, but I wonder why some requests remain unanswered. Have I not praying hard or often enough?


After my mom died, I started having double vision. The doctors reassured me that sometimes people experience things-like-this after losing a loved one, and once I finished grieving the symptoms would subside.


But two years later, my eyes still bother me, and I'm continuing to see specialists.


Why would God not answer this request?


Have you ever prayed for something and not received an answer?


The apostle Paul had an unanswered prayer.


Paul pleaded three times with the Lord about his "thorn in the flesh." (The Bible doesn't mention what the "thorn in the flesh" was only that it was a weakness.)


"So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh,

a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.

Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said,

'My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.'

So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me." 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 NLT


God desired Paul's humbleness more than his happiness. He loved Paul and knew what was best for him. He orchestrated the pieces of life into a beautiful tapestry for His glory.


Did Paul understand? I don't know, but he did trust Him so that Christ's power could work through him. God provided his grace and strength so that Paul leaned on the Lord's power not his own ability.


Maybe God hasn't answered my request because He wants my complete dependence and trust in Him. Maybe He desires persistent praying to refine my character and show me His perfect timing. (Luke 18:7; James 5:16). Or maybe my heart needs purified because I have unconfessed sin (Proverbs 15:29; Psalm 66:18). Whatever the reason and as I examine my life, I need to trust Him.


Unanswered prayer is hard because I want control, but I'm not. God is.


What requests are you struggling with? Are you willing to trust Him with his answer?


"My life is but a weaving between my God and me.

I cannot choose the colors he weaveth steadily.

Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow; and I in foolish pride

Forget He sees the upper and I the underside.

Not ’til the loom is silent and the shuttles cease to fly Will God unroll the canvas and reveal the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful in the weaver’s skillful hand As the threads of gold and silver in the pattern He has planned

He knows, He loves, He cares; Nothing this truth can dim. He gives the very best to those who leave the choice to Him."

Corrie ten Boom's Tapestry


When prayers aren't answered, I need to remember that God is in control.


He knows what He is doing and I can trust His perfect way and timing. Even if I don't understand the present answer, He loves me and knows best as He weaves the threads of my life together for His glory.

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Heidi J. Smith