Why keep praying for unanswered needs?Written by Wendy Kittlitz
What's inside this article
I have been praying for months about some specific and significant needs in my daughters’ lives, but at this point, it feels as if we have seen little in the way of answers to these prayers. What am I to make of that? Does God not care? Am I praying for the wrong things? Should I just give up and accept that these requests are not within His plan for their lives? Do I need to change how I am praying?
What do we make of prayer needs that seem chronic? The prodigal child who wanders for years. The marriage we deeply desire to see restored. The disease that God could heal, but does not.
I don’t pretend to know all the answers to these questions, but I find some guidance in the Scriptures. The psalmist says, "Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord" (Psalm 27:14). 1 Chronicles reminds us, "Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek his face continually" (1 Chronicles 16:11). Paul also says, "Devote yourselves in prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving" (Colossians 4:2). And he tells the Thessalonians to "pray continually" (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
God calls us to wait for His timing. When we get impatient and look for immediate answers, we may be overlooking the bigger picture that God sees. There may be purpose in the delay. We may not be ready to receive His answer. Our loved ones may not be ready to respond to His intervention. God is infinitely more patient than we are, so as we wait for what seems to be delayed answer to prayer, can we see it instead as an invitation to become more like Him?
Seeking the Lord as we pray through long-term needs is a way of cultivating a deeper walk with Him. He invites us into relationship, where He may transform us as we walk with Him and perhaps even transform what we ask for as we learn to know His heart more. We might find ourselves shifting from "God, please give me this" to "God, please show me Yourself in this."
The admonition to keep on praying continually reminds us that we need to abide in this dependent relationship. We have a bit of a tendency to come to God only with our acute needs and expect Him to address them so we can move on with our lives in peace and harmony. We want to enlist God when we have a need and ignore Him when we feel able to be self-sufficient. The need to be persistent in prayer keeps putting us "in our place" – which is in utter dependence upon God.
So, when you find yourself discouraged that answers to prayer seem to be taking a long time, look to the Word to search out what God might be saying to you. Take heart. Know you are not alone. Wait, seek and keep on praying continually. May it increase your connection with Him!
Wendy Kittlitz is vice-president of counselling and care ministries at Focus on the Family Canada.
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