There is a deep pain that comes along with praying a prayer that hasn’t been answered. We could be praying for anything from financial provision to a spouse’s salvation, but whatever the prayer, it hurts when the situation remains without the supernatural touch you were hoping for. The Bible says,
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin. Hebrews 4:15 NIV
There is always hope, but comfort is hard to come by when we wait. Waiting is not an excuse to abandon action. Waiting is an opportunity to grow close and go deep with Jesus. Here are three ideas to keep you in a state of active waiting:
First, be creative in your prayers. Tell yourself that it is not an option to cease praying. Scripture reminds us that we need to continue to petition our Heavenly Father. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? Luke 18:7 NIV
However, it can get discouraging to pray the same words over and over. Do what David did. That man wrote 150 Psalms! Many Psalms say something similar, but none of them are identical. Re-word prayers, use different scriptures, and approach the need from different angles. Just don’t give up.
Pray continually. 1 Thess 5:17 NIV
Next, focus on the task at hand. Being obsessively focused on a prayer request could cause a person to become distracted from work and/or ministry. We all still have work to do. The dishes. The laundry. Making dinner. You can make those sentences your own by filling in your specific everyday tasks. The key is not to get so focused on what we are lacking that we miss life directly in front of us.
Lastly, don’t neglect joy. Immaturity will tempt you to believe that you can’t be joyful until a prayer request is answered. The truth is, we have everything we need in Jesus. We do. It might not feel like it at times, but we do. Scripture is a sure and solid support. Our feelings are not reliable.
If you keep My commandments, you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and remain in His love. I have told you these things so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.John 15:10-11 NIV
We don’t have to wait to keep God’s commands and remain in his love. As we take care of the tasks at hand, and as we pray new prayers, we always have access to the joy of the Lord. Joy is sweet enough to keep us refreshed while we wait for prayers to be answered. Jesus himself is better than whatever it is we are waiting on and whatever it is we are waiting on can’t compare to the love and comfort Jesus offers us right now. Continue being honest. Continue waiting. Continue accepting the love in Jesus that is always available, even when answers aren’t.
The book, Prayers and Answered Prayers is a great resource for teaching kids ages 8-12 about the process of prayer. This book provides examples of great prayers throughout the Bible, many Scripture verses, and guided prompts for children to grow more comfortable in their prayer lives. The book highlights one of the most important pieces of faith—talking and listening to God. Invite your kids on your own prayer journey with this great book!
Which scriptures do you lean on when prayers aren’t answered? What do you do while actively waiting on God?