Updated: May 1
April 30, 2023
7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.
Matthew 7:7-8 (NASB1995)
… Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you.
John 16:23 (NASB1995)
“And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”
Matthew 21:22 (NASB1995)
14 This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.
1 John 5:14-15 (NASB1995)
The hardest-to-understand reason for unanswered prayer is also the most life-changing. If you learn it, extraordinary things will happen in your life.
The Hardest-to-understand Reason For Unanswered Prayer
I. What is it?
For a lot of people, this opens up a “big-ol-can” of trying to reconcile God’s sovereign, predestined plan, WITH the free will He has given the human soul to make choices, and act freely.
Which is imponderably complex.
But I don’t think you have to go there to understand what the Word of God is saying here.
Praying according to His will is this – learn to pray for what God desires for you, for your life, for what He wants to make you.
And our daily desires will collide with that all the time.
For this principle to be meaningful in your life, your faith has to be placed in something important.
Your faith must be placed in the belief that God is good. And that He is wise. And that He knows and loves you.
And that your trust and reliance is completely in His goodness, His wisdom, His unconditional love for you.
"[God,] You are good and You do good"
21 This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope.
22 The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.
24 “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.”
25 The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, To the person who seeks Him.
11 For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for prosperity and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
12 Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.
It starts here: that you believe that God’s will (His desire for you) is good and better.
II. Why pray according to it?
Why accept it?
Why should you want to pray according to His will ?
because two things are true at the same time.
1. The Bible teaches that your praying can have an effect.
James 5 – says that Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed that it would not rain, and it didn’t rain in Israel for 2 ½ years; and then he prayed that it would rain, and within hours there came a pouring rain.
In Isaiah 38 King Hezekiah was on his deathbed, and he prayed to live longer, and Isaiah the prophet came to him and said the Lord said “I’ll add 15 years to your life.”
Prayer gives us a real effect on our world.
2. And at the same time, God is NOT going to give anything or do anything that violates His will.
In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul the Apostle prayed that a ferocious physical ailment would leave him; he prayed for it over and over, and God didn’t remove it.
Jesus prayed three times in the Garden of Gethsemane that He not have to go through the cross and punishment for our sin; and God the Father, did not answer it.
And how does God work both of those things at the same time?
The answer is “I don’t know.”
But our faith is in the fact that “God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love Him”
because the world could never work where
I pray and get everything I want.
And you pray and you get everything you want.
And 8 billion other people pray and get what they want.
That would be utter chaos.
I should want what God wants in the world around me, in the circumstances of my life, and in me.
It’s just logical that if what I prayed could change God’s plan – if I were a wise person – the prospect of that would scare me to death to pray!!!
Because, what if I was wrong in what I prayed? What kind of accidental effect would that have on the future of the universe?
For Example –
How often are the smartest experts correct in their predictions about the stock markets? Answer: Less than 50% of the time.
How often do the smartest CEOs say that they make the right decisions in crucial matters – Answer about 50% of the time.
Therefore: How often can you expect that you will predict the right step at the right moment for any decision that will be best for your future? Probably less than 50%.
It’s only logical to say to God – at the bottom line – I want what You want.
If I believe it doesn’t matter what I pray, only what is predetermined will happen – then why pray?
If I believed that I could take control of the universe from God by praying – I wouldn’t pray – I’d be too scared I would completely mess it up.
But if both things are true –
then – I’m highly motivated to learn what God desires.
I’m highly motivated to learn to pray in a way that changes things around me; and changes me; and that affects my life in the future.
And so, then,
I’m done with preschool praying – just mindlessly throwing requests up to God, and see what sticks.
I’m done with grocery list praying – I need this and this and this and this – sack those up God, and just leave them on my doorstep.
If both are true --- then I am highly motivated to struggle through my desires, and God’s will, and the time it takes for those two things to coalesce, and keep praying until God does the good, and wise thing.
III. How to learn it:
RE-learn how to pray. No more grocery-list prayers; No more to-do list prayers.
1. Learn How To Struggle with God in Prayer
Let prayer be a struggle that it was designed to be –
That makes you deeply think about what you’re asking God
That makes you evaluate how much of your self-will is in what you’re asking
That makes you have to discover what God thinks is good
What He thinks is wise in the timing of it
What He knows about you, and what you would do with it if you got it
What He’s doing in your life in order to make you more like Christ
And trust the intercession of the Holy Spirit
Romans 8:26 – says it: “for we do not know how to pray as we should … “
But “… He intercedes for us according to the will of God.”
2. Learn how to pray your desire – but want His desire more
Here is the most effective principle of prayer on a practical level: Prayer must lead you to want what God wants – because ultimately – it will be what you want.
Jesus in the garden teaches us how to pray for it
“Father, please let this cup pass from Me.”
Then, “let this cup pass from Me, but not what I will, but what You will”
Then, “let us get up from here and go”
3. Learn to wait out your disappointments from prayer
We have some short-range experiences that tell us that this is true.
We prayed. God DIDN’T answer the way we wanted. We were disappointed.
We doubted. But then, the future happened, and it was better (or better for us) than what we prayed for.
But there are long-range experiences that we will have to wait a long time to see God answering better. And maybe all the way into eternity. But then, I promise you, we will see it.
IV. What will the answer be?
"What will the ultimately answer be of every serious, sincere, unanswered prayer? "
You will not believe it; nor will you accept it; unless you are deeply convinced that you are an eternal being. Otherwise – you will only think “this is a cop-out answer.”
Here’s the answer:
He will give you what you ultimately desire.
1 Corinthians 13:9-12 says about how we exist now –
Says for now – we only know in part.
But when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away with.
Just like our awareness when we were a little child was so incomplete, so is our awareness now – in comparison to when we step into eternity.
Now we know in part, but then I will know fully just as I have been known
Everything in the here-and-now is partial.
But the promise that God makes about eternal life is that He will make you complete.
When you are made perfect, you see everything clearly. You will see answers perfectly.
Then your desire will align with His, because you’ll clearly see it is good.
The Bible promises the whole purpose of Jesus' coming was full restoration of you:
The full restoration of His goodness and mercy poured out on you. (see Ephesians 2)
He will bring you to your full potential
He will fully restore your life
He will heal everything weak and broken
He will undo every evil done to you
He will reverse every sadness into joy
He will turn every suffering into glory – it will emanate off of you
And so this is what I will pray now:
I put my trust in You, God, for the unanswered prayer.
I bring my disappointment to You for healing my heart.
I am willing to wait to see it answered.