Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions
I wonder if you have ever seen the American cartoon characters Calvin and Hobbes. They are very popular in the United States.
And it’s late November and a little boy is waiting with his sled for the first big snow fall of the season. He waits and waits—and no snow. He speaks to God and argues his case for snow—he’s thoroughly disgusted with God’s failure. In the next cartoon picture, we see him on his knees, “Please snow—just a little bit. That’s all I’m asking”. He looks to Heaven and defiantly shouts, “I’m waiting”. He runs around, yelling, pleading. But his prayer is unanswered with no snow in sight. In the last frame, he cries out to God, “OK then—do you want me to become an atheist?”
I guess that’s one way to handle disappointments, not that I’m recommending becoming an atheist. But I have a feeling many are angry or frustrated—why doesn’t God answer my prayer? They feel hurt and confused, and sometimes give up on God. They can’t work it out. Now I think this is a serious issue, and I want to spend some time looking at the question, Why doesn’t God answer my prayer?
When God Seems Far Away
Even the most devout Christian who goes to church every day and lives a good life has the problem from time to time. Sometimes it seems God is not listening. We may feel like the psalmist in Psalm 10:1 who prayed, “Why, O Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” In other words, What’s going on here God? Why is there no response for me in this situation? I have heard it said, and indeed said it myself to others, “God always answers prayer. Sometimes he says yes, sometimes he says no, and sometimes he says wait”.
“Why, O Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” Psalm 10:1 – NIV
It sounds good in theory—but to you in the pit of despair and anguish, it’s not much help. These times are like prayers bouncing off the ceiling. But, as in most things, what we feel is not always the same as what is true. I’ve spoken about this before. In fact, the Bible is filled with stories of men and women who prayed to God in a crisis—and God, for reasons unexplained, did not answer their prayers. How come? Surely the eternal God would answer the prayers of faithful and dedicated people!
When Paul Pleaded to God
Let me use the Apostle Paul for example. I know I talk a lot about Paul, but there are so many lessons in his life. In 2 Corinthians 12 he had a moment of ecstasy, the greatest moment of his life, when he had a wonderful vision of Heaven. He never forgot what it was like. But soon after, he was given some ailment called ‘a thorn in the flesh’ to torment him. We don’t know for sure what it was—it may have been a physical ailment. But that doesn’t really matter. He prayed three times to have it taken away. In verse 8 of 2 Corinthians 12 we read, “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me”.
He meant business—he had too much to do for Jesus. He was in a hurry. But three times God said no. Can you believe that? Here was one of the greatest Christians who ever lived, the man who introduced Christianity to Europe. When he prayed about his personal need, God did not, or would not, answer his prayers.
It doesn’t make sense because Paul was a man of prayer. He wrote about prayer in all his letters. He desperately begged God over and over—but no answer in sight, at that time.
(To be continued in Why Won’t God Answer my Prayers? – Part 2)