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Unanswered prayers

I have been disappointed too many times by un-answered prayers. Why should I pray any more?

This is an area that a lot of people struggle with. When God appears not to answer prayer, we can feel that there is no point in praying any more. This is one of the devils schemes to make us doubt that we can truly trust our heavenly Father. This leads us to move ourselves far from God and to cut off our life-line to Him which is prayer. This leaves us more vulnerable to believing more lies from the devil and becoming more isolated.

In order to break the vicious cycle that can lead to despair the first thing we need to do is to choose to believe what is true about God, not focus on our experiences. This is faith, and prayer is just our expression of this faith in the truth of the power of God.

To learn what is true about God we need to study the Bible. Luke's gospel tells us that when we ask, it will be given to us. ‘What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent ... if you then, who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask’ Luke 11:9-13 (NIV).

The important thing here is that God is not a God who withholds good things from His children. We can be tempted to think that this is what He is doing when our prayers are unanswered - but this is not true. The truth is that if prayer appears to have been unanswered, God has in fact answered! Sometimes we must wait for what we seek. Other times God knows that the best thing for us is not to have whatever it is that we seek. There can be many reasons for this such as our motives (see James 4:2-3). This can be so hard to bear when we do not understand it and what we ask for seems good. But in those times we need to trust in God – that He is God and therefore in a much better position to know what we need and to provide it.

Is there anything we need more than we need God? The Bible tells us “No!”. So if we decide that our prayer has not been answered, and we then use that as a reason not to pray, we end up depriving ourselves of the one thing we need more than anything else. We must not let our experiences and the lies of the devil deprive us of the only thing we really do need – a relationship with the living God. As we spend time reading His word - the Bible we need to remind ourselves that we are His precious children (Gal 3:10-14) and therefore He will act towards us as a loving Father would. If He did not withhold His own son from us, He will not withhold anything else that is good (see Romans 8:32).