Unanswered Prayers

Most people are eager to share stories of answered prayers. Chips down, odds against them, yet their hope prevailed. Even in the confines of sanctuary though, the topic of unanswered prayers is rarely discussed. I can recall a few sermons about learning to accept when the answer to your prayer is “No,” but it was often wrapped in the analogy of a parent knowing what was better for you than you did, and shrouded in the mystery of God’s Ways.

As people of faith, I think we do ourselves a disservice by secreting away the unanswered prayers from our testimonies. It’s almost as if we see them as ways God has failed us, or ammunition for non-believers to mock our petitions to a loving Father. The truth of the matter is, we don’t like our faith to be tested. We prefer being on the offensive line sharing how great lives of believers are in order to attract those who don’t share in that belief.

Being on defense carries the impression of merely holding a line and not progressing forward, or worse yet…losing ground. The ability to defend our faith is a necessary skill though, and it cannot be achieved by only sharing the shining aspects of our walks. No human experience comes without trials, and to pretend that a strong faith will bring you nothing but gladness isn’t reality. Pardon the secular reference, but we are not all “shiny, happy people holding hands.” We ARE lights, however, because Our Creator shines His Light through us.

As lights we need to remember that flames flicker and aren’t always steady. The conditions around them can make them dance, or waiver. They can even snuff them out if they aren’t tended to properly. The latter circumstance is what many of us fear most, and likely the reason we avoid openly speaking about the times when our prayers go unanswered.

Hand-in-hand with an unanswered prayer is the question of “Why?” Was I not deserving? Was my faith not strong enough? Am I not a good enough person to deserve what I have requested? As much as we might wish them to be, our whys aren’t easily dismissed. We want life to make sense. We want A plus B to equal C and to give us a simple formula to follow for a successful and happy existence.

Instead of a simple formula, we’re given an old blackboard filled with the remnants of the chalk dust of previous attempts and an equation that would have left Einstein himself stumped. We’re left with the unanswerable and the unanswered. Not much of a platform to win hearts and minds, is it?

It can be though, if we choose to accept the reality of life and faith instead of the glossy, modern advertisement. The reality of life is that it is fraught with good and bad. And the true core of faith is a confident belief. The flicker in the flames is the shaking of that confidence. It isn’t a failing to feel disappointment. It’s not wrong to ask why. And it won’t destroy your argument for belief to not have all the answers. If we had them, faith wouldn’t be necessary. We’d know everything and could follow the equation to the predetermined solution. Where is growth to be found in that? We wouldn’t learn anything new about ourselves or the world. We’d all be plugging in the same numbers like a sea of automatons unable to experience peaks or valleys or anything really.

Confidence in what we don’t know flies in the face of what the world teaches us, but it’s the cornerstone of what Our Creator asks of us. Not knowing the whys of everything in the moment isn’t shameful, just like uttering them isn’t. It provides the perfect opportunity to tend to our flame. To become aware of the conditions that are endangering it and fortify its protections. And to shine on, in faith.


Published by Jen B. @JenBennsJourney

Full time housewife, mom, & grandma. Learning to manage depression and anxiety by talking about them and other things along the path.

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