A Way to See Unanswered Prayer
There are countless prayers unanswered in the last 2,000 years after Jesus resurrected and return to heaven. One person may pray one to three prayers on a daily basis. If every prayer is different, then one person will send 365 prayers (1 per day) or 1,095 prayers (3 per day) to God in one year. If we multiply these numbers by one thousand, ten thousands, one hundred thousands, one million, ten millions, one hundred millions, or one billion people, God will be inundated with never ending astronomical numbers of prayers in His home in heaven! If God handles prayer one at a time, a person’s prayer may never be answered in his or her lifetime. No wonder so many prayers are unanswered!
Of course, the above phenomenon is fictional. God of the Bible is an almighty God. He created and sustains the universe filled with trillions and trillions of constellations, galaxies, stars, and planets, His almightiness is more than capable of hearing and handling every prayer send to Him simultaneously. And He can even remember who, when, and where the prayer comes from without fail. So, no need to freak out, our prayers are promptly heard and promptly in work-in-progress by God.
The mystery of unanswered prayer lies in the response by God. Whether the person praying is an ordinary Christian, a revered Christian leader, a missionary preacher in a foreign land, a pastor of a large church, a famous Christian entertainer or a nobody; God has no preference for one prayer to be answered ahead of other prayers and if the prayer will be answered. All prayers have the same fate-God decides when, what, and how our prayers will be answered or not. This means all we can do is keep waiting if we didn’t go crazy.
If you’re still waiting for your prayer to be answered after waiting for many weeks, months, or years, you’re in good companions-millions of them (at least). Having said that, I know this is no comfort to you when your prayer to God seems to be forgotten or rejected. I have many moments feeling betrayed, lost, and frustrated in my years of waiting and still waiting for God to answer my prayer. Up to this day, I look up to the starry night sky and wonder where my prayer has traveled to. But guess what, my hope for my prayer to be answered is still strong, although I confess it is out of my fear that God has forgotten me (this may be one motivation to keep hoping for your prayer).
I’ve searched for answers why prayer is not answered. Many religious explanations are quite negative about unanswered prayers such as: the person still carries sin; God is disciplining the person; God is cleansing the person (as if perfect purity is required); the sinful loved one(s) of the person is affecting the prayer; the person’s faith is not strong enough; and the person didn’t tithe enough to the church. These inconsiderate religious explanations of unanswered prayers can destroy a person faith and left a permanent scar of guilt on one’s mind. I totally disagree all the above are the reasons why prayer is not answered.
We must totally believe that God answers prayers. Jesus has shown us that God answered prayers faithfully.Throughout Jesus three years ministry on earth, he didn’t have to wait for his prayers to be answered. All Jesus prayers, except one, were answered by God instantly. I’m sure you remember Jesus turned water into wine and it was done instantly. He prayed to feed five thousands people and it was done instantly. He prayed to raise Lazarus from the dead and it was done instantly. He healed countless sick and crippled people and it was done instantly. Every request Jesus sent to God was answered instantly without fail. It was so easy for Jesus to get his prayers answered. You may say, oh well, Jesus is the son of God so he gets everything he wants. But every father includes father God demands faith and obedience from his children before he is willing to give them what they ask for. Jesus has impeccable faith in God, thus whatever he prayer asks for, God answered him without fail. Jesus has zero doubt
But that doesn’t means God gives Jesus everything he asks for. The night before Jesus was to be taken away by the soldiers led by Judas, he prayed to God to have his cup (his suffering) taken away. God didn’t answer his prayer. God didn’t relieve Jesus of his imminent torturous death because he was His son. God didn’t answer Jesus’ prayer not because He doesn't love him. God didn't answer Jesus' prayer that night was for the greater purpose for mankind. If God answered Jesus' prayer that night, there would be no salvation, no Christianity! So even the son of God is not exempted from the same frustrating moment of unanswered prayer.
So, what can a person do if his or her prayer is still not answered by God?
If there is any comfort to any unanswered prayer, I suggest you think of your prayer like a farmer planting his crops. See your prayer sent to God is like a seed planted in the soil. As a farmer, you must accept it takes time for your seed to grow and ripe to the fullness. You must accept there will be unpredictable weather that may disrupt the safety of the seed or even destroy the soil where you planted the seed. When that happens, you must replant the seed again (renew faith and hope). You must accept you may have to repeat planting your seed again and again for this is what the farmer does if the crop failed. There is no other way. And remember, every time after you planted the seed don’t forget to nourish it with water and nutrients (affirmation of faith and trust in God) all the time.
If you see your prayer like a farmer planting his crop, in the process you will see your seed grows taller and taller to give you pieces of answers here and there until your seed finally ripe to the fullness from your patient effort called faith. I hope it makes sense to ease our frustration in unanswered prayer.