3 Ways to Press Through Unanswered Prayer
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20 (NIV)
I opened the anonymous letter and my heart sank. It was from another mom who wanted to make sure I had a list of all the ways one of my daughters was falling short. There in black and white she listed my daughter’s mistakes, shortcomings and frailties.
And then just to make sure I took her nameless letter seriously, she informed me she’d be sending a copy to my pastor.
My initial reaction was to figure out who sent this so I could call her. Talk this through face-to-face. Assure her my husband and I were not only aware of some struggles my daughter was having, but also working diligently to help her course-correct.
But as I reread the letter, I discerned it wasn’t sent from a place of love for my family or a heart that wanted to help.
From the language she used and the fact that there wasn’t a way to contact her, it was obvious she didn’t send it because she wanted the best for my daughter.
I sat on the edge of my bed and cried.
It’s so hard to have someone attack you in an area that’s already rubbed raw with hardship. Her letter was like a bullet straight to my heart.
However, it was also a wake-up call to get more intentional in praying for my daughter. I thought about her struggles a lot. I talked about her struggles. I worried about her struggles.
But thinking about, talking about and worrying about something is not the same as praying about it.
I clung to the truth in our key verse, Genesis 50:20, and determined to turn this letter that felt like a bullet into a blessing by using it as a catalyst to ramp up my prayer life.
Through my tears I cried out to the Lord, “I will not sacrifice Your grace for my child on the altar of people’s opinions. Of course I want my daughter to walk the straight and narrow path of great choices. But I trust You, Lord, to write her testimony. My main goal for her is not behavior modification but total heart transformation. I want her to want You, Lord, and Your best for her life. Give me the courage to not just pray about my daughter, but to pray her all the way through this.”
Praying her through the ups and downs wasn’t easy. There were days I wondered if God even heard my prayers.
It’s tough to pray someone all the way through a messy, hard, complicated situation and not see answers. Maybe you’ve been there. Maybe you’re there now.
Can I speak hope into your heart with three ways to press through unanswered prayers?
1. Know with confidence God hears your prayers.
First John 5:14 reminds us, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us” (NIV).
2. Trust that prayer makes a difference, even when you don’t see the difference.
It may take a while for you to see God answer your prayers. But don’t miss an “in the meantime answer” you can receive right away. Philippians 4:6-7 reminds us of the immediate answer to every prayer:“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (NIV, emphasis added).
Did you catch it? It’s the peace of God that will guard your heart and mind in the process while you’re waiting for God to reveal His answer to your request. When you pray, you can trust you’re doing your part, and God will certainly do His part.
3. Tell fear it has no place in this conversation.
These prayers are your gateway to feel an assurance you don’t see yet. But fear will beg you to focus on the problem more than God’s promises. Isaiah 41:10 says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (NIV).
It’s been a few years since I got that hard letter that prompted more frequent prayers for my daughter. But I still remember the day I visited her at college and could hardly believe my eyes.
She had become a completely different girl.
At one point during our time together, I asked her, “What finally made following Jesus wholeheartedly click for you?” She said, “Mom, I’ve made friends who love Jesus. I saw a joy in them that I wanted. So, I started doing what they do even when I didn’t want to. At first I thought getting up to do devotions was unrealistic, prayer meetings were boring and listening to praise music, excessive. But as I kept doing these things, the Lord started changing my thought patterns. And when I started thinking about life from the standpoint of truth, I had so much more joy.”
She then paused and said words I’ve longed to hear and prayed to hear for so long, “Mom, I’ve just completely fallen in love with Jesus.”
I can hardly type those words without crying.
I pray this infuses your heart with hope to keep praying. I pray you believe God can take the things others intended to harm you or the ones you love, and use them for good to accomplish His purposes … because He can!
Dear Lord, only You can turn what was meant for evil into good. I thank You in advance for all that You’re going to do in my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 116:1-2, "I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live." (NIV)
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Re-read the three truths Lysa TerKeurst talked about. Then, choose one you’re going to claim this week.