Where Prayers Go
Updated: Jan 9
"For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.'" Hebrews 13:5
I recently spoke with a friend who has had terrible, chronic and sudden pain for months now. As we chatted, she said candidly, "I pray and pray, but God doesn't hear me. Prayer hasn't helped." Maybe you've had similar thoughts during the trials you've endured because it got that hard. Though I don't know what my friend's physical pain feels like, I can certainly understand well the pain of thinking my prayers have gone unanswered or worse, unheard. Do you ever feel like you pray, but nothing happens or changes? Have you ever worried that God has turned a deaf ear to you?
I have cried out to God plenty of times, desperately desiring Him to change my circumstances, or take away my pain, or fix a relationship. It is frustrating when the answer doesn't come soon enough or how I had hoped. I've been praying for over a year for my husband to get a job after being laid off. It hasn't happened yet and some days I want so badly for this season to be over and I wonder, "God, did you forget about us?" That's (thankfully) a fleeting thought because I know that God doesn't forget. He never leaves us nor forsakes us. No, He hasn't forgotten about my husband needing a job, and He hasn't forgotten what you are needing either.
Abraham and Sarah waited nearly 25 years for their promised son, Isaac. Joseph was a slave in Potiphar's house for more than 10 years. The Bible doesn't give an exact timeline, but Job suffered emotionally, physically and spiritually for months and months after losing everything. There are a lot of biblical accounts of God's people asking and then waiting. I can imagine some wondered if their prayers had been heard at all.
The apostle Paul asked God three times to take away the "thorn in his side," but that prayer was not answered in the way Paul had wanted.
"I [Paul] asked the Lord three times about this [thorn in my side], that it would depart from me. But [God] said to me, 'My grace is enough for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.' So then, I will boast most gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may reside in me.'" 2 Corinthians 12:8-9
Paul sure had a brave and courageous response to how the Lord answered his pleas to take away whatever that "thorn" was, and I believe that each one of us can find a similar hope and contentment, trusting that God's will, way and answer is best for us. Even when it comes to waiting, or suffering, or wanting.
Every situation is unique, and there is no "one size fits all" reason as to why our prayers may not be answered (yet). But this I'm confident... whatever we go through is not in vain. The Lord is working behind the scenes in ways we do not always know. His Son and the Spirit are interceding for you (Romans 8). I encourage you to lean into God's word and His promises of hope, deliverance and comfort. Stand on those promises He made when the going gets tough because the Bible is full of not just encouragement, but Divine Wisdom that breaks through and speaks directly to our fears, worries, exhausting circumstances, and lies of the enemy. We can find peace in the Lord and we can trust without a shadow of a doubt that He hears our prayers.
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