Do you remember the song, “Unanswered Prayers” by Garth Brooks? Part of the lyrics go like this:
“Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers. Remember when you’re talking to the Man upstairs…that just because He may not answer, doesn’t mean He don’t care. Some of God’s greatest gifts…are unanswered prayers.”
I don’t listen to Country radio much anymore, but this song came to mind when thinking about “thankfulness”.
You see, even as much as I love this song (and music, in general), I have been taught that God DOES hear every prayer and He DOES answer. It just might not be the answer I want.
God hears our pleas, our cries, and our lamentations. Every single one of them.
And He answers. Every single one of them.
Some of His answers could be “yes”, “no”, or “not right now…trust My timing”. It might seem like He isn’t answering, but perhaps He is, just in ways we choose not to see. He might be silent for the moment, but be assured He will answer.
Of course we want the “yeses”.
We want the “answered prayer” to be the solution we have desired…whether it be healing, comfort, strength, courage, etc.
But what happens when His answer is “no”? Do you/we lose faith in him? Do we demand a better answer? Do we accept what He has said?
Sometimes when His answer is “no” or “not right now”, I can get frustrated. With my life seemingly out of control at times, I sometimes wonder, “Why, God? Why can’t You just allow this to happen? I don’t understand.”
It’s not always our privilege to understand. We’re not always given the immediate answer.
But does that mean He doesn’t care? Absolutely not!
There have my been many, many, many prayers I have prayed over the years that God has answered with a “no” or “not yet” or “be a little more patient….My plan is unfolding.” I admit I don’t always understand. Or even like it. But I have to believe He knows what’s best. I struggle with it sometimes, because when I don’t surrender…it’s because I believe I know what’s best.
Over time I have learned to be thankful for what seemed to be “unanswered prayers”. I’m so thankful He didn’t (and doesn’t) give me everything I want and believe I need. If I was in complete control of my life, it would not go well.
His ways are ALWAYS higher than ours.
His understanding is beyond what our finite minds can comprehend.
He is all-knowing, all-powerful and always present. Because of that, we can be assured He hears us all.
As I’m writing this, I’m thanking Him for not allowing me everything that is comfortable; that I believe would make me “happy”; and that really wouldn’t be good for me. I’m so thankful for answered prayers, even when He’s leading me down a path I’m unfamiliar with. I need to continue working on trusting Him completely, and without a doubt and quickly.
Can I ask you…have there been times you have felt God isn’t hearing your prayers, or answering them?
Are there times when you wonder, “How many times do I actually have to ask for this particular thing”?
My friend, sometimes we won’t get a direct answer…a direct lead…something tangible and as clear as the nose on my face.
But during those frustrating, waiting times, offer Him a thank you. Tell Him you trust Him and are thankful He can see the whole picture, even when we can’t. Thank Him for being all-knowing and all-powerful and always present. Simply continue with the thankful heart you can have, no matter if you’re particular dream seems to be put aside.
One night, many years ago, I experienced one of the most excruciating and painful times in my life. When I laid my head on my pillow that night, I thanked God. I told Him that I didn’t understand how that event would ever work itself out for good, but until I did see the fruit coming from it, I would thank Him for the experience and all that came with it.
I was used to thanking God in all circumstances already, so that night didn’t seem so difficult. I do see some good coming from that experience and I truly am grateful. Not for “unanswered prayers”, but simply thankful for God’s sovereignty over all areas of my life.
Precious Lord, I ask You to help me live with a thankful heart…and a thankful soul…and a thankful attitude. Sometimes it’s not easy and I need Your help. I know You will equip me with the tools I need and for that, I thank You. Father, help anyone reading this prayer, to become thankful in all aspects of their lives, knowing You are in control. Thank You for being the only God I need and forgive me for wanting to have control over certain situations. Thank You for loving us enough to say “no” or “not yet”. Thank You for the trials and triumphs in my life and in other people’s’ lives, because those times can bring us to our knees in prayer, love, adoration, and faithfulness, as well as repentance. Train us to be thankful to You and for You. Amen.
Pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 (NIV)