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How to Pray and Prayers Unanswered

Updated on April 9, 2012

Prayer Time

Prayer Time
Prayer Time | Source

When you are a kid, your vocabulary is full of I want, I want, I want. Parents do their best to curb this attitude. Luckily, I attended parochial schools and my parents had reinforcements!

It was in Catholic schools that I really learned how to pray.

Sweet! Now I could ask God for all the stuff I wanted. I had the inside track!

We learned that was not going to be the case. Instead, we learned that prayer is a conversation with God.

Adoration or Love

We were taught to praise God for whom He is. Additionally, we pray to tell God we love Him. This was a common way to begin our prayers.

Thanksgiving

Next we learned to give thanks for the good things that you have. We learned to thank God for our family, friends, home, safety, school, etc. After telling God we love Him, thank him for the wondrous gifts he has given us.

Contrition

We often did the Act of Contrition during our nightly prayers. We said we were sorry for our sins. We later learned there were sins of commission and omission. These were things we did wrong and things we failed to do. Hurting someone and failing to help are both sins. We learned to say sorry for both.

Petition

This is the moment for which we were all waiting . This is when we got to ask for the good stuff. Maybe we didn’t have to study anymore. We would just pray that we did well on the test. Maybe we could ask for anything from God. I think we started to think of God as a genie granting wishes.

A Stained Glass Window
A Stained Glass Window | Source

Refined Prayer

We learned to refine how we prayed. As we got older I remember being taught that asking God for things is really your last line of defense. We were taught you have to do your part as best you can. In some cases, when you are defeated, you can ask God to meet you half way. There are times when you really can’t do your whole part on your own. This is when you can ask God to pick up your slack.

My high school social studies teacher said a prayer before a test. I don’t completely recall it but it was along the lines of “Dear God. I have studied for the test. Please give me the calm to let the answers come to me.” We had learned to do our part and ask God for things such as grace, calm or confidence in our studies.

Evolution of the “Prayer”

As time moved on, I became a more mature ‘prayer’. I kept in mind what I learned. I praised God first. I thanked him next. I said I was sorry and kept my infractions to the highlights. Then I asked for something if I needed it.

When I was a kid, I would ask for things. As I was maturing, I was asking for guidance. I might ask for God to watch over someone. I prayed for people who were sick. Rarely did I ask for myself outside of grace, calm and confidence. These tended to get me thru the tough times.

My First Prayer Test and I Failed

When I graduated from college, I got wait listed for Medical school. I have always gotten something that I worked hard for, up to this point. Not this time! What was going on? I got God on the line, stat!

Books: Unanswered Prayers

Regression in Prayer

This is when you start playing the prayer game. Sometimes you feel like you can trade with God during prayer. I praise you twice and thank you 3 times. I ask for one thing. 5 for You. 1 for Me. This seems about right. Well it is not, and this method of thinking is a recipe for disaster. I was quickly reminded of something ingrained in my head for years that must have fallen out.

My Memory Was Awakened

God answers prayers in His time. Not mine.

Fine! I will wait. I will keep doing what I am supposed to be doing. I kept praying to get into Medical School. This was my next step. This is what was supposed to happen when I graduated college.

Alas, the Fall rolls around. I am still on the wait list. It hit home. I was not getting into Medical school in the Fall. WHAT? I was pre-med. That is what I was supposed to do. Dear God!

My Real Journey Had Begun

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. What a lovely way to reminisce and realize all that you have learned. It is the going thru it that stinks! My early twenties revolved around working and trying to figure out what I really wanted to do. The big plan fell thru. I applied again to no avail. I was not going to be a doctor. So, now what will I be?

I ended up just fine. I found my way into the computer industry right before Y2K and it suited me well. Our team was configured to analyze code and adjust for the fail points in the date format. It was because of all my hard work that the world didn’t come to an end!

Thank God For Unanswered Prayers

My Family
My Family | Source

Don't Worry! WE Got There

Now I am a stay at home mom with 5 kids ranging from 7 to 2. I have thought multiple times, thank GOODNESS, I did not get into medical school!

I would be a doctor now. I might even be a Mom. But, I am sure I would not be a stay at home Mom. I doubt I could have convinced myself after that much training to stop working. I would have barely been out of my residency when I had my first (and second child). Would I have even thought to have kids yet? Would I have ever stopped working? That would be career suicide and what about all those loans?

I look back at how hard I prayed and I thank God for listening. He knew he had a better plan for me. I just needed to sit tight until WE got there, together.

I have thanked God on multiple occasions for not letting me into medical school. I am the person I am today because of it. I am the Mom I want to be because of it.

I am not saying, “Don’t be a doctor if you want to be a Mom.” I am just pleased where I ended up and I would not want to be anywhere else.

Let's Talk

I learned to pray early on in my life. What started as a way to maybe get what I wanted became a more mature conversation with God. My relationship with God is evolving, as it should. The role of prayer has changed as well. Sometimes when I can’t sleep at night, I say my prayers again. It gives me a sense of calm. I have plenty of things to thank God for and this could keep me busy for hours.

It is in those wee hours of the night, that prayer becomes a conversation the most. When I worry or something has me concerned, this is when I talk to God the most.

My Prayer For My Children

My kids are learning more about prayer at school. The last part of our night prayers is to tell me one thing they are thankful for. They range from Mom or Dad to creation or a specific person. They are learning to have a relationship with God thru prayer. I pray that as they get older, their relationship grows and their ability to pray matures. I pray that they can reflect in later years on why things worked out the way they did. I pray for them to have all the successes that they deserve. I also pray that they have the patience when their prayers and God’s plan don’t align.

God answers prayers in His time. Not mine.

I know I will remind my children of this multiple times in the years to come. In the meantime, I will pray for God to give my children grace, calm and confidence.

During those waiting periods, these things did wonders for me!

© 2012 Karen Lackey

Have you thanked God for unanswered prayers?

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    • twinstimes2 profile image
      Author

      Karen Lackey 5 years ago from Ohio

      Thanks for reading,

      brainy!

    • Brainy Bunny profile image

      Brainy Bunny 5 years ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

      Beautifully written and moving. Thank you for sharing such a personal account.

    • twinstimes2 profile image
      Author

      Karen Lackey 5 years ago from Ohio

      Stessily, the stained glass was from a convent in Dayton, OH, for the Sisters of Notre Dame. It was recently taken down. The Marianist Brothers and the Sister of ND ran my highschool. I have an aunt who is an SND. Thanks for reading, stessily!

    • profile image

      stessily 5 years ago

      twinstimes2, The stained glass window is beautiful, with a perfect balance of blues, creams, yellows, oranges. Would you be able to let me know the name of the church and its location?

      Your presentation is a loving tribute to prayer. You clearly were raised to respect this form of communication which is unfortunately so misunderstood. I love that you point out how prayer expands and grows with our understanding.

      Kind regards, Stessily

    • twinstimes2 profile image
      Author

      Karen Lackey 5 years ago from Ohio

      Excellent point, Dave Mathews. I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors. I will also check out your hubs. I am sure you have some amazing insights! Best of luck!

    • Dave Mathews profile image

      Dave Mathews 5 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

      twinstimes2: I love that you discussed unanswered prayer, although in truth, they are not unanswered, but might be denied or postponed.

      I have one I have been holding to for nearly 5 years now. I was let go from my place of employment nearly 5 years ago. I asked God to direct me to the next position of employment where he required me to be. Of course, I've not been just sitting around, I am out constantly submitting applications and taking interviews, but the right employer and I have not connected as yet.

      In the meantime I serve God with my Hub writings evangelizing thru Hub is a blessing and a good use of my time, until God hooks me up with employment once again.

    • twinstimes2 profile image
      Author

      Karen Lackey 5 years ago from Ohio

      Thanks again for reading, joaniebaby. Sounds like we have a lot in common. I am following you know as well!

    • joaniebaby profile image

      joaniebaby 5 years ago

      Thank you so much for this Hub. You really do inspire me. My husband and I had four boys 6 and under so I understand your joys and trials. At that time we lived on a farm and I was a stay-at-home Mom, too. My education was also through Catholic schools, the last two at a girls' boarding school! Our family eventually grew to five boys and two girls, in that order. Please keep writing.

    • twinstimes2 profile image
      Author

      Karen Lackey 5 years ago from Ohio

      Thanks, Stages of Me, for taking the time to read and comment. God Bless you and yours as well!

    • The Stages Of ME profile image

      The Stages Of ME 5 years ago

      Great Hub and so true such a nice gentle way to educate others in the way to pray. I find at times our own walk is all the example God needs to teach others.

      Peace in your stages and God bless you and your beautiful family