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How to Respond When Prayers Go Unanswered

unanswered prayers

You don’t want to ask me to pray for your marriage. I’m no stranger to when prayers go unanswered. In 2017, I prayed weekly for three couples. The first one divorced at the beginning of the year, the second one a few months ago, and the third a few weeks ago. Three marriages, 52 weeks of prayer, three divorces.

I still love the individuals, but my heart grieves for the end of their marriages. It doesn’t matter if you know them or not—their names and situations are not important to this post. God knows all the details. Their marriages included infidelity, abuse, deceit and more. God hates divorce but loves the people (Malachi 2:16).

But that’s not the point of this post. I’m not here to argue marriage and divorce or God’s view of their situations and decisions. Instead, I’m here to ask (and partially answer) the question, “Why didn’t God answer my prayers?”

16,800,000 Google Fans Can’t Be Wrong

Apparently, I’m not the first person to ask this question. In fact, 16,800,000 other people have addressed this question in some form or fashion.

As you can see, it’s quite common for people to cry out to God about unanswered prayers.

Sometimes I thank God for them. Garth Brooks thanks God for them. If God answered all my prayers the way I wanted Him to answer them:

  • I’d be married to someone other than Kristen.
  • We wouldn’t have four boys we love so much.
  • We wouldn’t be in Texas and I wouldn’t be on staff at Watermark—that would stink!
  • I wouldn’t be a graduate of Wake Forest University.
  • I wouldn’t be weak or struggle. This would lead to an independence I don’t want or need. Rather, when I’m weak, then I’m strong (2 Corinthians 12:10).

I have many reasons to thank God for unanswered prayers. But, those unanswered prayers don’t make life easier for us.

How to Best Respond When Prayers Go Unanswered?

If I’m honest I wonder why God won’t answer my prayers for something that should be a good thing. Why wouldn’t God keep these three couples together? How is that possibly a good result? Why did I seemingly waste prayers for one full year on these couples? Did God hear my prayers? Does He care for their marriages? How can I thank God for those unanswered prayers?

I’m discouraged and need answers for myself as much as for anyone else. I can’t fully answer the question of why God didn’t answer my prayers in the way I wanted Him to, but I will share with you some things I’ve learned along the way when prayers go unanswered.

9 Reminders When Prayers Go Unanswered

1. God is still God, whether He answers my prayers the way I want Him to or not. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). My trust in Him and understanding of Him cannot be dependent on how my prayers turn out.

2. He’s worthy of my trust and devotion (Proverbs 3:5-6). It’s a verse many of us have memorized, and there’s a reason for it. This verse reminds me that I can’t lean on my own understanding of situations.

3. God ALWAYS answers prayers. He just might not answer them in the way I want Him to answer them. I need to redefine what I mean by “unanswered prayers.”