Why Are Prayers Unanswered?
George MacDonald was born in 1824, in the Scottish Highlands. He was a teacher, minister, father, lecturer, and writer. MacDonald’s writing was so powerful that a better-known C. S. Lewis said. “I have never concealed the fact that [MacDonald] was my master.”
MacDonald loved prayer. He once said. “Never wait for fitter time or place to talk to Him. To wait till you go to church or to your room is to make Him wait. He will listen as you walk.”
Often when prayer is unanswered, it’s due to infrequency and lack of intensity. The employee who asks for a raise often receives based on his intensity. The child is granted requests because of his tireless pestering.
Jesus, in a discourse on prayer to His disciples said they “always ought to pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1). Are you making God wait to answer your request because of your lack of enthusiasm? Don’t let this happen to you. Remember: God is a “Gift Giver.”
God’s Gifts to Man
- God gave us pain to make us aware of healing.
- God gave us joy to make us aware of feeling.
- God gave us death to make us aware of judgment.
- God gave us trials to make us aware of victory.
- God gave us fear to make us aware of dependence.
- God gave us choice to make us aware of consequences.
- God gave us hope to make us aware of heaven.
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17). –Glenn Hitchcock (adapted for space)
Sometimes We Have To Let Go
To let go is not to:
- Stop caring; it’s recognizing I can’t do some things for someone else.
- Cut myself off; it’s realizing I can’t control another.
- Enable; it’s allowing learning from natural consequences.
- Fight powerlessness; it’s accepting that the outcome is not in my hands.
- Try to change or blame others; it’s to make the most of myself.
- Care for; it’s to care about.
- Fix; it’s to be supportive.
- Judge; it’s to allow another to be a human being.
- Try to arrange outcomes; it’s to allow others to affect their own destinies.
- Be protective; it’s to permit another to face their own reality.
- Regulate anyone; it’s to strive to become what I dream I can be.
- Fear less; it’s to love more. —Glenn Hitchcock
“Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is with those who uphold my life” (Psalm 54:4).
God’s grace requires holy living (Titus 2:11–12); holy living requires God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8–10).
“It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they’ve been fooled” (cf. Matthew 15:14).
Keep Asking, Keep Searching
The late Dr. Scott Peck was the author of the best-selling book The Road Less Traveled. As a psychiatrist, Dr. Peck spent a great deal of time working with patients in a large psychiatric hospital. He wrote that he discovered in his practice an almost universal apathy: a lack of interest; no desire to ask questions; no desire to seek the new and to grow; “no taste for mystery,” as he put it. He said that if he could cultivate in the patient a willingness to question and to search and to grow, then there was some hope. But if not, he saw little reason for hope.
As Christians, our questioning and our searching and our growing into the kind of persons we are meant to be can draw us closer to God. In our pain and suffering, in our loneliness and discontent, we can draw closer to God than ever before. —Sunday Sermons (adapted)
“Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7).
The Pieces Don’t Fit
In one of his plays, Tennessee Williams portrays a mentally ill woman who is sitting at a card table set up in her garden, working a jig-saw puzzle. She is extremely tense. Her hands are shaking. She tries to force the pieces together, but they don’t fit. Some of the pieces fall off the table. The woman becomes more and more agitated. Finally, she looks up at her daughter and says poignantly, “The pieces don’t fit together! The pieces don’t fit!” That is the way it is for many people today. The pieces just don’t fit for them—and never will, until they discover faith in the gracious God. —Sunday Sermons
“Make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ” (Hebrews 13:21).
Interest in Heaven and Hell
In the United States, there is more interest in heaven than in hell, at least based on searches. There are 1.5 times more searches for “heaven” than “hell,” 2.8 times as many searches asking what heaven looks like than what hell looks like, and 2.75 times as many searches asking whether heaven is real than whether hell is real. However, relative to the rest of the country, retirement communities search more about hell. In retirement communities, there are a similar number of searches asking to see visuals of hell as well as visuals of heaven. Both are real (Matthew 25:46).