Have you ever prayed persistently over a long period of time for something, but nothing happened? In fact, things went exactly opposite of what you prayed for? What should be the response when this happens?
I have been praying continually, almost every day for the past year, expecting something positive to happen for the sake of another person’s economic welfare. I have prayed scripture, and that God would answer my prayers in such a way that there would be no doubt that He did it. I got to the point where I no longer knew how to pray for this situation, so I claimed the power of Romans 8:26-27. “The Spirit helps us in our weakness, for we do not what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is in the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” There needed to be a breakthrough! The situation began last year and I never expected it to continue into 2024. I fully expected God to answer my prayer long before now. There was no doubt that God could orchestrate things to happen.
The longer time went by with no resolution I became angry, because the circumstances were following the same pattern that my life went through years ago with very negative results. I did not want this individual to experience what I went through. I had a “spiritual temper tantrum.” Spiritually, I was like a rebellious two-year old expecting things to go my way, but in retrospect, was ashamed that I had reacted this way.
Several thoughts have come to mind through all of this. Many Christians choose to believe that God causes or allows all things. God, in his sovereignty, can choose to act on a person’s behalf. However, as a pastor once told me, “God does not micro-manage our lives.” Sometimes God chooses to remain silent. Does he, at times, allow circumstances to run their course according to the choices and decisions people make? With my response I asked the question, was my rebellious immature “spiritual temper tantrum” a result of expectant faith not realized or was it because of a faulty understanding of God’s goodness?
There is also the matter of God’s timing and purpose. In circumstances like this many Christians like to quote Romans 8:28, which says that ”all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to his purpose.” The problem with this is that they don’t quote the following verse (29) along with it, which says, “that we may be conformed to the image of his Son.” The point of this is that the “good” of verse 28 is what is explained in verse 29. Waiting on God is necessary to see his plan and purpose, but in the meantime, circumstances may remain the same.
Things have not changed in the situation for which I have prayed, but I have had to take a hard look at myself. At the age of 74 and being a Christian nearly all of my life, I still have a lot of spiritual growing up to do. Because of my emotional rage against God, do I love him to the degree that I should? It caused me to look up scripture on what hinders one’s prayer life to see if there was something in my life that was standing in the way of answered prayer.
I will conclude with some Bible verses. Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” James 1:2 says, “the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” Continuing to verse 12 we read, “Blessed is the one who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love him.”
According to these verses it pays to endure the times of unanswered prayers.