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SELAH! Pause - reflect- just think of that!

Selah Alphabetical Index

Unanswered Prayers


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 me—to keep me from exalting myself!” (2 Corinthians 12:7).

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 didn’t 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. God’s 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 saved.

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 up.”

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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Unless otherwise noted "Scripture quotations taken from the NASB." "Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE" © Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission." (www.Lockman.org)

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NET) are from the NET Bible copyright ©1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. http://www.bible.org/. All rights reserved.

Wil is a graduate of William Carey University, B. A.; New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Th. M.; and Azusa Pacific University, M. A. He has pastored in Panama, Ecuador and the U. S, and served for over 20 years as missionary in Ecuador and Honduras. He had a daily expository Bible teaching ministry head in over 100 countries from 1972-2005. He continues to seek opportunities to be personally involved in world missions. Wil and his wife Ann have three grown daughters. He currently serves as a Baptist pastor and teaches seminary extension courses in Ecuador.


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