Not long ago, I was forced to miss church due to illness. I love being in God’s house on God’s day; but nobody there wanted the bug that was crawling around in my lungs and my sinuses – so I stayed home. Doing what men do best, I started flipping channels!
Soon I saw an “old friend” – David Jeremiah – looking at me from my TV. I like his teaching and I find his voice very easy-listening – so I paused long enough to see what his topic was for the day. It was relevant for me, so for the next 45 minutes, I listened as a godly preacher conquered the difficult topic of “Why our prayers don’t get answered.” I suspect many of you have wondered too! So for the next few days, I hope to summarize my notes from his sermon.
First, Jeremiah reminded his listeners that experiencing times when God doesn’t seem to be answering prayers puts us in pretty distinguished company. Habakkuk, Job, and David all wondered the same things. For example, Habakkuk asked, “How long, LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen?” (1:2) But why might He not listen? Why might prayers go unanswered?
Dr. Jeremiah surprised me a bit when he suggested that the first reason prayers may not get answered is because the prayers don’t occur – we simply don’t pray. Many times the issue isn’t UNANSWERED prayers, but UNOFFERED prayers. Or as James says, “You do not have because you do not ask God.” (4:2)
And when we ask, we should ask in detail. Or as Dr. Jeremiah stated, “God is not going to answer your prayer for a specific thing just because you prayed at the dinner table!” In other words, blessing the mashed potatoes isn’t going to help with the car repair bills (and so on).
If an unfulfilling prayer life is an issue for you (as it is for me), I hope you’ll keep reading. In the meantime, if prayers seem to be going unanswered, may I gently ask if they’re being specifically offered? –Dave
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