May 7, 2018

The Gift of Unanswered Prayer

Written by Boyd Bailey

Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – May 7, 2018

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. 1 John 5:14-15

Many children are not shy in making requests of their parents: Can I have a snack? Can I watch a video? Can I play outside? Can I have a phone? As teenagers the pleas are more challenging: Can I drive the car? Can I attend the party? Can I date? Can I travel to another state with a friend? Similar to how the Lord answers our prayerful petitions, good parents weigh what’s best for their child: Can he be trusted with more freedom? Is she mature enough to make wise decisions? Does he manage money well, so he can be trusted with more? Does she need to attend a community college for two years and then transfer to a University? Sometimes we tell our child, “no or not now” because they are not ready, likewise our wise heavenly Father protects us.  

John reminds us to be confident in approaching our heavenly Father in prayer. We can be confident because once we confess our sins, Christ cleanses our heart and gives us a pure heart to pray according to God’s will. A pure heart bends toward God’s heart and seeks through prayer to align with what He wants. Prayer is understanding from Christ how we need to change, instead of trying to get the Lord to change. Humble prayers protect us from our proud self. Whatever we ask aligned with God’s will, we can rest knowing He knows what’s best for our wants and needs.

“I will do what you [Solomon] have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be” (1 Kings 3:12).

What do I mean by unanswered prayer? When God says no or not now to a need I have. The need may be marriage, money, healing or an opportunity. My understanding of God’s best for my life is incomplete, because I do not know the complete landscape of my life like the Lord does. I walk in life’s parade with limited vision, while Jesus is atop a skyscraper and sees the beginning and the end of the parade. He sees the unhealthy outcome of a relationship I would love to engage in, but the Spirit protects my heart with a no. I may think I’m ready for a career transition, but Christ knows what’s best for me is to go deeper in relationships where I am, in order to grow my soul.

What if you ask for physical healing and your heavenly Father says no or not now? Isn’t healing a good thing? Isn’t the miraculous restoration of a broken body a compelling apologetic for God? Yes and Yes! But God’s will can be more complex. Perhaps He wants to use a person’s faithfulness, even in the face of a terminal illness, to save souls who are blind to belief in Christ. The bright light of a life of love in the face of a dark death, shines a spotlight on his or her Savior and Lord, Jesus. God’s will is for all to be saved, so He can use your unanswered prayer for physical healing so another might experience spiritual healing. By God’s grace embrace and celebrate the gift of answered prayer. He wants what’s best for you, and what’s best for others.

“We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them” (1 John 5:18).


Heavenly Father, thank you for answering my prayers according to Your will, in Jesus’ name, amen.


What unanswered prayer have I been praying that I need to trust the Lord to work through for His bigger picture for my life and the life of others?

Related Reading

Matthew 7:7; 2 Corinthians 3:4; Ephesians 3:12; Hebrews 4:16;

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