Why Pray, If God Doesn’t Answer the Way I Want?

What’s the point of continuing to pray and ask God for something, if He doesn’t always answer the way we want?

Recently, this question has been bothering me. It’s one thing to acknowledge that we don’t always get what we want. That’s life and we live in an imperfect world.

But it’s another thing when the prayer that goes unanswered is a deep longing that we desperately want God to answer. In those instances, it’s much harder for me to accept the pat answer of “that’s life. Get over it and keep praying anyways.”

And so I get tripped up and find myself struggling to pray. As in, actually talking to God, understanding that He’s carefully listening, and expect Him to answer in some way.

Part of my problem is that I shut down my heart because I’m afraid of getting my hopes up. “Why would I ask God for something so important to me, hope that He’ll give it, and then later find out He’s said no? Wouldn’t it be easier just to not ask Him and save the disappointment?” I recognize that this is a problem, and that I need to keep talking with God about these things… even more because of how significant they are to me. Philippians 4:6 tells me to present my requests to God in every situation, with thanksgiving. 1 Thessalonians 5:17  tells me to pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all circumstances.

But it’s a long distance between my head and my heart.

So this question was banging around in my brain as I walked into prayer meeting at church last Sunday. Thankfully, God showed me an answer later that day in the example that Jesus set for us.

I was “randomly” reading through Matthew 26, and came across this prayer that Jesus made in the Garden of Gethsemane:

“He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Matthew 26:38-39

I had to read it a few times to make sure I was seeing it correctly. Prior to this, Jesus had told his disciples multiple times that it was necessary for him to die in Jerusalem and that he would be raised again on the 3rd day. (Matthew 16:21, Matthew 17:22-23, Matthew 20:17-19)

Jesus was about to die a terribly agonizing death, and He knew it. He also knew that this was God’s will for Him, in order to fulfill the scriptures that talked about the Messiah redeeming His people. And yet He STILL prayed and asked God “If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me.” He asked God for something that He knew wouldn’t be answered.

I’m not quite sure what to do  with that.

But in the midst of my pain of praying for healthy pregnancies and ending up with miscarriages, I find comfort in seeing that Jesus knows what it’s like to pray a prayer that is not answered.

So that answered the first part of my question. Yes, it is good for me to continue to pray and ask God to give me children, even if I don’t know how He’ll answer, and even if His answer has been “no” so far.

But then, because God loves me, He wouldn’t let me ignore the words Jesus gives after that request… Too often I follow my requests with, “And if you don’t give this to me, I’m going to be really, really upset.”

But Jesus? I’m challenged and convicted by His attitude that, even in the face of knowing He is heading to His death, says “yet I want Your will to be done, not mine.”

We have a God in heaven who loves us, cares for us, and wants us to bring our requests to Him. That’s an incredible privilege. Do we honor that privilege by holding our requests a little less tightly and trust that God understands how important these requests are to us?

After saying “I really want this,” do we follow that up with with “But what I really want is for Your plans to be done, God, not mine”… ?

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

 

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10 thoughts on “Why Pray, If God Doesn’t Answer the Way I Want?

  1. I have been where you are. It came to me in a similar way that even He understands that feeling, having experienced it there in Gethsemane. It really puts some flesh on Hebrews 4:14-16 for me. Knowing He has gone through the pain and now intercedes for me!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Why Pray, If God Doesn’t Answer the Way I Want? | Brandon J. Adams

  3. mosaicsoftheheart

    So nice to “meet” you, Julie! Not only do I love this “little” revelation That God gave to you, but I feel like I have just found a heart-friend. 😊 I also struggled with miscarriages… and I would dare say that it was the most painful experience I have walked through. And I just want to encourage you as a sister in Christ… Don’t lose heart! God cares so deeply for your heart…. he is the Shepherd Who goes BEFORE us (John 10:4). If I may, I would encourage you to read Romans 4:16-25. I clung to these verses during that season of deep disappointment and many questions as I was healing emotionally from my losing my little ones and from shattered dreams. If you would like to read any of my posts that were inspired by my journey of desiring children and feeling unanswered by God, I will try to post the links to those specific posts on my blog. But I also have to say… That my God has been so incredibly faithful to me and has blessed me beyond what I could imagine! I now have a healthy Little redheaded boy named Caleb Matthias who is almost 2 years old and a gorgeous three-month-old daughter named Aria Joy. When I look into their sweet faces, I see the astounding faithfulness of my God! I pray that God honors your request and blesses your womb. Saying a prayer for you, dear sister. ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thankyou, sister! I just read that passage in Romans and am so struck by this part of the verse: “the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.”

      I have loved reading your blog and been very encouraged by it.(My friend who volunteers at PiercingWord shared your blog with me) Please also do share those links here in the comments section of my blog so that others can read them as well.

      This post- https://mosaicsoftheheart.wordpress.com/2016/04/22/child-of-praise/ resonated so much with me!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. mosaicsoftheheart

        I am so glad!! Praise the Lord that He is able to use my experiences to encourage you! 😊 What friend of yours volunteers with us?? So fun!
        Yes, I clung to that particular verse!!
        Sorry this was so long in coming, but here are those links to blog posts that were specifically written in that place of grief over my miscarriages:
        https://mosaicsoftheheart.wordpress.com/2016/04/22/war-with-praise/

        https://mosaicsoftheheart.wordpress.com/2016/04/22/child-of-praise/

        https://mosaicsoftheheart.wordpress.com/2016/04/14/in-the-storm-of-sorrow/

        https://mosaicsoftheheart.wordpress.com/2016/04/14/counting-blessings/

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Thankyou, Kim. Seeing your faith in God is an encouragement to my heart and I’m sure to so many others also! Words fail me to express sufficiently how sorry I am to hear of your loss. Thankyou for the ways that your life, and the things you share on your blog, demonstrate a trust and honoring of Christ in the midst of deep grief.

    Liked by 1 person

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