Do you know what it’s like to continually wait on God for an answer to your prayer?
Maybe someone you minister to is struggling with the fact that they’ve been praying and God hasn’t been answering.
I’m a firm believer that God knows exactly what He’s doing when He says “no” to our prayers, when He seems to wait before answering our prayers, or when it seems He isn’t listening at all.
Psalm 145:8-9 says: The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.”
That tells me that His graciousness, compassion, and love are at work – even in unanswered prayer. So here are seven reasons to thank God even when you’re not getting an answer – yet:
- God may be waiting to give you something even better than you requested. In First Samuel chapter 1, we discover that Hannah wanted a baby. But God wanted to give her so much more than just a child. While Hannah was watching the clock (wondering for years why God wasn’t opening her womb), God was watching a country, waiting for the precise time to allow Hannah to conceive a child she would name Samuel who would become one of Israel’s greatest prophets and priests. Hannah just wanted to be a mom but God wanted so much more for Hannah’s life – and He ended up giving her not only several children, but a legacy as well (First Samuel 1-3). Thank God that His unanswered prayers often mean He is holding out for your best.
- God’s “no” in this situation may be for your – or someone else’s – protection. I know many women who are very discouraged that God hasn’t let them marry, or let them marry again. “Why won’t He bring me a husband?” they keep asking. I can’t answer that. But I know God is good. I know He sees their entire story. And I know He cannot act apart from His goodness. That often leads me to believe that He sees something down the road that we don’t. And if we are praying for His will and His best for our lives, we can be confident that His withholding or His silence is because He is protecting us from something we don’t – and might not ever – see. Can you trust Him with that? Thank Him that He cares about you that much. ]
- By not giving you what you want, as soon as you ask for it, God is ensuring that you will keep coming back to ask. God won’t settle for the role of Santa Claus in your life. He wants a relationship, one in which you commune with Him, share with Him the struggles on your heart, and keep the communication going. God knows if we got what we wanted as soon as we asked, we’d take it and leave Him in the dust. Trust the process. And thank Him for desiring your communication, your trust, and a personal relationship with you.
- There may be something He wants you to see by His apparent “withholding.” Scripture tells us “No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11b). If you are walking uprightly, and He is truly withholding, then what you are asking for might not actually be a “good thing” for you. Or it just isn’t time. Thank Him, again, for what He can see that you cannot.
- He will allow – or withhold – whatever will keep you right where you need to be when it comes to your relationship with Him. In Matthew 7:11, Jesus said, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Your holiness is more important to God than your happiness. And He knows what is making you or keeping you holy and dependent on Him. Thank Him that He desires your eternal joy over your temporal joy and He won’t let you have anything that isn’t eternally good for you.
- He will do whatever it takes (in blessing or withholding blessing) in order to keep you clinging to Him. God knows if we have everything we want and need, we will tend to think we don’t truly need Him. And we won’t cling to Him. So He will sometimes allow us to have or not have whatever will keep us clinging to Him. Thank Him that He is a God who wants you clinging, rather than a God who couldn’t care less about you.
- God desires your completion in Him and sometimes He can do more work in you, while you are waiting, than if He immediately granted your request. Thank Him that He is not satisfied until you are complete in Christ Jesus. He is the Only One who can do that work in us. Thank Him that He will complete the work He has started in you (Philippians 1:6).
There now, after thanking Him for those 7 things, aren’t you starting to love Him even more than what it is you’re asking for? I hope so. Because I truly believe that’s the point.
Cindi McMenamin is a pastor’s wife, national women’s speaker, and author of several books, including When Women Walk Alone (more than 125, 000 copies sold), When a Woman Overcomes Life’s Hurts, When God Sees Your Tears, and her newest, Drama Free: Finding Peace When Emotions Overwhelm You. For more on her ministry to strengthen your soul, marriage, and parenting, see her website: StrengthForTheSoul.com.