Prayer lesson 04: When Your Prayer is Not Answered
A mother and father pray unceasingly day and night for their beloved daughter sick in the hospital, yet she passes away. A block away, a man prays fervently that he can keep his job to support his family, but receives a letter in the mail informing him that has has been laid off from work. Elsewhere, people at a church pray for the safety of a missionary as he flies to Africa to do God's work, yet he is killed in a tragic plane crash.
Have you heard similar stories? Or perhaps you had such an experience yourself? You study the Bible daily to learn more about God's will for your life. You confess all your sins to God, ask for forgiveness, and repent. You ask of God, believe in Him, and claim what you ask in faith. Yet, things go wrong in your life and your knees are buckling under the weight of tremendous trials. Why isn't God answering your prayers?
Let's turn to Job 1:1-5.
- According to these verses, what kind of man was Job?
Answer (highlight to read): Job was a blameless and upright man who feared God and shunned evil.
- According to these verses, what did Job do for his children regularly?
- Answer: He offered burnt offerings on their behalf.
Job was a good man who believed in God and prayed for his children every day.
Let's finish the chapter and read Job 1:6-23.
- According to these verses, who was the cause of Job's suffering?
- Answer: Satan
Let's continue reading Job 2:1-13.
- According to these verses, did God want to inflict harm and suffering upon Job?
- Answer: No
- According to these verses, was Satan satisfied with taking away Job's wealth and killing his children?
- Answer: No, he continued to accuse Job before God and wanted to harm him directly.
Job didn't know it at the time, but he unfortunately was caught in the great controversy between Jesus Christ and Satan. Satan was accusing God of unfairness and wanted to show the universe that Job would curse God to His face if God removed His protection from Job. Job prayed fervently and was asking God why weren't his prayers answered. What did Job do to merit all this agony and pain? Even Job's own friends accused him of iniquity and wrong doing. Job suffered so much throughout this entire ordeal, far beyond what most of us could ever handle.
Yet even though it did seemed that God was so far away from him, Job never forsook God (Job 13:15) and clung onto Him in faith, just as Jacob did (Genesis 32:24-28).
Let's turn to 1 Peter 4:12-13.
- According to these verses, what does Peter say we will experience?
Answer: Fiery trials
Let's turn to 1 Peter 5:8 and Revelation 12:9, 17.
- According to these verses, what is Satan seeking to do?
Answer: Satan is seeking to devour whom he can and make war with God's people (those who keep His commandments and have the testimony of Jesus Christ).
Satan is doing what he can to hurt God's people and cast the blame upon God. Just like Job, we may be caught up in a fiery trial, which we can hardly endure. However, just like Job, God intends a good end for us (James 5:11). He is a just and compassionate God who loves us so much.
God has three answers to our prayers. He can answer yes, no, or wait. Oftentimes, the most difficult answer for us is the third answer. We cry out to God, "O Lord, how much longer?" Yet, God asks us to be patient (Revelation 6:9-11; Psalms 27:14; Isaiah 40:31). Sometimes, God will not immediately answer our prayers and allow trials in our lives because our faith will increase and we will be much stronger spiritually after we have gone through those trials (1 Peter 1:6-9). He may even answer your prayer in a way that you did not even expect or even better than you had ever dared to hope (Ephesians 3:20).
I honestly cannot tell you why God doesn't seem to answer our prayers when we most urgently need Him. There will be questions we won't have the answers to until the other side of eternity. All I can tell you, friend, is that God is eager, loving, and truthful. As Paul wrote in Romans 8:28: "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."
Friend, will you trust God to the end, even when He doesn't seem to answer your prayers initially?