Prayer Part 2: How God Answers Your Prayers
So you pray and you pray dutifully, but God doesn’t answer your prayers. You ask why? You think, I’ve done my part, why hasn’t God? But how do you know he isn’t answering them? Is it because it’s not the answer you are looking for? Could it be that you are asking for the wrong thing? Or you are looking for the wrong response.
How many times have you prayed for things that in the end you were glad didn’t happen? Most of us have, so many in fact that Garth Brooks wrote a song about it – in which he so profoundly says, “some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.”
(I’ve tried to find the official video for “Unanswered Prayers” but I’ve had no luck. So instead of providing someone else’s version, here is a link to the lyrics.)
God does things in his own time and own way. And unfortunately, we aren’t privy to his reasons why.
As mothers we struggle with miscarriages and the death of our children. But we also pray for our children to be healthy. Could a miscarriage/death be God’s way of answering this prayer? This certainly isn’t the way we want our prayers answered but it most certainly can happen this way. And no one can better explain this than my friend Anne who lost her infant son seven days after he was born.
In Anne’s words:
I think every person who experiences a loss asks the question “why?”…I think every person questions their own existence, God’s existence…every person eventually has to make some sort of peace within his or herself in order to go on.
When Rip was in the hospital, I was so helpless. I could do nothing to help my child. It sounds like such a cliche, but it was quite literally like waking up in a nightmare…I was in physical pain from the surgery, my mind was all over the place from pain killers and hormones and emotions, I hadn’t slept in days, and all I could do was sit there and watch as my baby got worse.
At some point, the doctors allowed Parke and me to sit in on their “rounds”…which in theory is a great idea, where you as the parents can listen to the doctors discuss “the patient” and then ask questions…in practice it was horrifying to hear your child discussed as “the patient” followed by longer and longer lists of medical terms, none of which sound good. As Rip’s mother I felt desperate to understand, trying to grasp on to some handle of the situation.
It was during one of these meetings when I felt like I just could not take anymore, I could not sit there and listen to them discuss this “infant male” for one more minute without losing my mind, when I heard a voice in my head say very clearly, “Anne, you need to relax, I will protect him.”
Of course I thought it was God. And I relaxed immediately. Rip was going to be okay, God was protecting him! I told everybody in my family what I felt and heard, I didn’t listen to anything else the doctors said.
And then Rip died. I have never felt so betrayed.
I was confused for such a long time…I know what I heard (despite the painkillers). I know what I heard and I know that I felt peace after I heard it.
It’s taken me four and a half months but this is how I see it…I still believe that was God, and I believe he did protect Rip.
I believe that Rip is God’s child who was in pain, and he protected him in a way that he will never have to feel pain again. He protected Rip in a way that I could not.
Now, it’s not like I am fine with Rip’s death because this happened. Far from it, I am in turns furious, shocked, despairing…but like everyone else, I have to make my peace in order to go on.
There are still a million more questions out there, all of which have been asked with no answer…why Rip, why us, why, why, why? But I don’t have the answer to those questions, and I don’t think that I ever will. What I do have is a belief that when I heard “I will protect him”…that was a promise that was not broken.
Read Anne’s blog. Rip’s story can be found here.
Anne experienced the ultimate test in faith and passed. Yes, her initial response of anger and hurt was normal. But she got it right. She realized that God did indeed answer her prayer – just not how she wanted or would have ever wished for. I have learned a lot from Anne and admire her greatly.
You may not have experienced what Anne did, but I imagine you have been in a situation where God did not answer a prayer the way you had hoped. Or maybe you didn’t realize that God answered your prayer. One of my favorite verses on prayer speaks about this, “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving” (Colossians 4:2). God will answer your prayer in his time and in his way. We just need to keep praying and pay attention. Do not give up and if need be, reevaluate what you are asking for and/or how you anticipate God responding.
Verses about prayer:
Matthew 21:22 – “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”
1 John 5:14-15 – And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.
Psalm 118:5 – Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free.
Psalm 22:2 – O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.
1 John 5:14 – And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.
Mark 11:24 – Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
Matthew 7:7 – “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.“