Almost Yes: The Pain of Unanswered Prayer

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Have you ever prayed earnestly for something you really wanted, only to find your prayers unanswered? Worse, did the outcome veer in the opposite direction? You prayed for healing and were met with death. You prayed for love, only to be greeted with heartbreak. You prayed for a child, yet tragically, you experienced a stillbirth. When you’re confronting such realities, it’s challenging. I can’t even begin to console you, because even the most wise, gentle, well-meaning support may seem grating, to put it mildly. Your pain, misery, and disappointment run deep.

A man with a black hoodie praying on the subway. Photo by Steven Arenas Via Pexel

The Mystery of God’s Way

When you’re faced with such a situation, I implore you, please, bring it to Jesus. Don’t relay it to others—your pastor, your church, or anyone else—take it directly to Jesus. Scream, yell, cry, question Him, beg Him for understanding and revelation. He can shoulder your anger, disappointment, and frustration. The reason I suggest not going to your elders isn’t because they can’t or won’t help you, but rather because you are in a highly vulnerable position and just one ill-conceived phrase from them could send you running from God. From my experience, running away doesn’t make things better, but rather, worse. Why risk human error when you have direct access to your Creator? Run towards Him; He already understands the turmoil within you. You’re shattered into pieces, and you need a factory reset—take it to your Creator.

As much as God is your Heavenly Father, His wisdom remains a mystery—if it weren’t, He wouldn’t be God. With our limited understanding, we may question “why?” and still not receive an answer. But if you ask, He will gift you a peace that transcends understanding. Friends, as long as we live in this world, we are not exempt from suffering. God never promised an easy life, but He did promise peace, and that everything will ultimately work out for our good. We live in a fallen world where anxiety, disappointment, depression, and despair are daily occurrences, as are even death and suffering. Once we accept this, we open our hearts to God’s peace. Our life is a spiritual warfare; we must keep our faith alive, no matter how hard it is. Ask the Lord to strengthen us in the valley of death so we can walk through it.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11

“For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”

Psalm 30:5

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”

Psalm 23:4

When you are navigating life’s difficulties, I recommend reading the Psalms. The author, King David, expressed his fear, sadness, and disappointment in ways we can all relate to.

Get Up, Pick Up Your Cross and Run The Race of Faith

Now that you’ve wept, slowly try to rise and pray again. There’s no rush—proceed at your own pace. If all you can do is sob and no words come out, let that be your prayer. If all you can utter is “Jesus,” then do that. Many people believe that prayer needs to be detailed, flowery, and powerful. I personally disagree. God sees your heart; He knows your strength. He even counts your tears as prayers. Seek Him in your own way; the fact that you have wrestled with doubt, anger, and disappointment proves you are taking your relationship with your Savior seriously. Otherwise, you wouldn’t care!

In the three years of my faith journey, most of my prayers were grunts, tears, and short sentences. Why? Because I’ve grappled with disappointment far too many times. Honestly, I’m sometimes scared to hope or ask for specific things in prayer because many times, something good appears to be coming, only to be snatched away next. Sometimes I can’t even pray; all I can do is listen to worship music and commune with Jesus in my heart. It’s okay—He listens.

Many teachings tout the power of declaring Scriptures with authority as prayer. Yes, I believe this approach works. I say “believe” because I haven’t tried it myself yet. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t say things lightly. Because the most important thing about prayer is believing in what you’re saying. Isn’t that the essence of faith?

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Hebrews 11:1

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

Mark 11:24

So start small, pray what you can, and ask Jesus for the strength to start over, to continue praying despite your disappointments. For it to be faith, we must pray and strive against the current. Proceed slowly, don’t let others rush you. It’s your journey with Jesus; do what you can and trust that His grace will equip you along the way. Only God knows your measure of faith and the condition of your heart. Trust that He is always with you. Choose to walk with Him. Press on, and believe that it will be worth it in the end. I don’t know what that end will look like or what kind of answer I’m going to get, but I’m trying to believe it will be good. That’s all I need to know—that He is good. And I hope I can encourage you to do the same. Keep holding on, for joy comes in the morning.

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