What is your attitude toward unanswered prayer?
What do think God is trying to teach you when He chooses not to answer
your sincere prayers?
It is the mature Christian who wrestles with the burden of sincere,
spiritual, yet unanswered prayers.
We see the depth of this spiritual problem in the life of the apostle
Paul. It is in the context of his desire to exalt Christ in every occasion that he barely
mentions the ultimate Christian experience and then only once after it took place fourteen
years earlier. Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this
reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a
messenger of Satan to torment meto keep me from exalting myself! (2
Paul prayed that God would take the thorn in the flesh
away permanently. He prayed earnestly. He prayed repeatedly.
Concerning this, Paul says, I entreated the Lord
three times that it might depart from me (v. 8). Three times is a Hebrew
figure of speech indicating ceaselessly, continuously, over and over again praying,
that it might depart from me.
Have you had that kind of experience? Paul was praying for the right
thing; he was praying in the right manner, and to the right person. Why didnt God
answer it the way Paul desired?
The great lesson Paul learned was that God had a greater purpose in
his suffering. Jesus said to Paul, My grace is sufficient for you, for power is
perfected in weakness (v. 9). Paul learned to be humble and boast about my
weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me (v. 10).
Prayer needs to change us before it changes our circumstances.
Gods primary focus is to conform us to the likeness of Christ.
Is God trying to teach you a greater lesson by saying no
to your prayer? He may have other work for you to do that no one else can do in His
kingdom right where you are in your unbearable circumstances. Or He may be saying that we
are not needed where we see the greatest need, but He already has someone else prepared
and available that He wants there. He is answering our prayers through someone else He has
chosen. All that really matters is that He gets all the glory. Perhaps we have made
ourselves the center of stage and God needs to set us aside temporarily. He does not have
to use us as His chosen agents. Or it may be that He wants to keep you right where you are
in your circumstances so that a certain person will hear the good news in Christ and be
You may be at the center of a great spiritual battle and you are not
even aware of what is happening. The thorn in the flesh of Paul was a
messenger of Satan to torment him. We cannot see spiritual warfare, but it is very
real and it affects our prayer life. Jesus said we should always pray and not give
God answers prayer by saying yes, no,
wait or in a completely different manner than we ever expected.
Sometimes God does not answer because we have unconfessed sin in our
lives (Isa. 59:1-2; Ezek. 14:3; Prov. 21:13). Are you secretly cherishing some sin, or
idol? If I regard wickedness in my heart, The Lord will not hear (Psa. 66:18).
Often unbelief closes the door (Jas. 1:6-7). Why should God answer
our prayers positively if we do not believe His Word unquestioningly?
The apostle James said we ask with the wrong motives (Jas. 4:2-3).
Prayer is hard work. Perhaps we are spiritually lazy. God will not
bless a lazy and inconsistent prayer life (Jas. 5:16-18).
The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish
much. Let us pray . . .
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006
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