When we come face to face with unanswered prayers and unfulfilled dreams, we must proceed with caution. We may find ourselves wondering why God has not answered, yet we must not give up. We must also not allow self-pity to coat our lives with heaviness. Nor should we focus on trying to figure out how to get our prayers answered faster or in the way we want.
At times we strive and strive to be the perfect Christian, thinking our prayers are not answered because we have done something wrong. However, we cannot earn anything from God. God doesn’t want our performance or perfection; He wants to give us what He deems best and most wise, and in His perfect will and timing in our lives.
One of the worst things we could receive is our version of what answering our prayers might look like, if it isn’t the best or most wise thing for us in the end. Sometimes prayers remind unanswered because this isn’t God’s best for us or His timing. And what we truly want to desire above any answer or request is His perfect will and goodness in our lives.
More than an answered prayer, Father God desires to develop a close relationship with us. He desires us to learn to trust Him in every circumstance, in the waiting and trials of this life. He desires that we learn humility and surrender—surrender to His ways and will which are often contrary to our tendency toward fear and self-preservation.
God has our best interests at heart, and calls us to grow in patience. If the Lord always answered instantly, how would we ever learn to trust Him?
Especially in Western culture, we tend to have a sort of “microwave mentality” of wanting things now and wanting it our way. As believers, we must renew our minds in God’s Word and fight against the influence of this attitude toward life.
As Paul wrote in Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect“ (ESV).
In your persistent doubts, questions and unknowns, you can also remember Abraham’s testimony:
“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; 10 for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”Hebrews 11:8-10 (NKJV)
The Bible is filled with examples of those who waited, and waited, and waited still more:
- Noah waited, building the ark for 120 years before the Flood actually came.
- Abraham waited, for God to enable he and his wife to have a son and heir to the covenant promise.
- Joseph waited, sold into slavery, falsely accused and sent to prison before his rise as a leader.
- Job waited, for deliverance from the devil’s oppressive attacks upon his life and family.
- David waited, longing to establish a resting place for God which his son Solomon would actually build.
You can read more about the trials and faithfulness of some of the fathers and mothers of our faith in Hebrews 11.
In the waiting, seek to stay in fellowship with God and His Holy Spirit, praying, studying His Word, worshiping Him and seeking to live a godly life. If we focus on Jesus and learn to trust Him, if we seek to take Him at His Word, our waiting and our trials will likely go much better.
If we focus too much on the other things, we may miss God’s presence as He works in the details of our lives. Moreover, we will miss the opportunity to exalt Him in all things, far above the things that concern. We will fall short of seeking His Kingdom and righteousness first (Matthew 6:33).
Continue to pursue honoring the Lord above all else as you wait on Him. Seek to wait with a godly attitude, patience and humility. Remind yourself that He is always faithful. He promises that those who wait on Him will renew their strength and not be disappointed (Isaiah 40:31; 49:23).
Even when things do not happen in our timing, it helps to feed continually on God’s faithfulness. He is never late. His timing and His will are best for us. And likely, He is working godliness within our hearts and emotions, teaching us to grow in trust, selfless love and the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, self-control, goodness and gentleness). He is adding to the centuries long testimony of His faithfulness as you grow in trusting Him.