This is one of the most common questions asked about praying to God.
Prayers work in mysterious ways, and we are not conscious of much of the things that happen as a result of prayer. I believe miracles happen every day but we don’t see them. A lot of these are small miracles, but they can make a major change within an individual’s or a family’s life. I believe that each and every one of us have been demonstrated the power of prayer in our lives. I also believe that we have all been prayed for by others – even people who are completely unknown to us – and that we have benefited from this.
To refer back to the original question, our prayers are always answered, but not always in the way we think they should be. It’s very hard for us to understand how we can pray for someone to get better, and then they die. Why weren’t our prayers answered? Why are our prayers for people who are starving on the other side of the world answered? I understand why people are asking these questions. In thinking, talking and praying about these questions as I write this blog, I have realised that there are four main reasons why people feel their prayers aren’t answered.
- Sometimes we pray for something that is not part of God’s plan, so perhaps a loved one doesn’t get well because it’s time for them to go home to God.
- Sometimes we pray for things we want, or believe we should get, and are disappointed when we don’t get them. We are often blinded by our desire for whatever it is we think we need, but we don’t recognise fully what will be best for us. Often, with hindsight, we say we are glad that we didn’t get something that we had previously prayed for.
- Sometimes our prayers are not answered because we, or other people let the other side in – we let evil in. This is how war can start and continue despite our prayers.
- The fourth reason I think of is that people have not listened and taken action. This may be through fear – fear of being ridiculed, fear of poverty, fear of failure – or competency. God needs us to achieve things in the world. Yes we need to pray, but we need to take action as well. Each and every one of us has a part to play.
We need to have faith and keep praying, even if our faith in the power of prayer is challenged at times. In fact, it will always be challenged because we will never have a full understanding of God’s vision for the world.
We may not always see the results of our prayers, but whether we see it or not, we have to have faith that they are making a difference to our lives and to the world as a whole. Prayer gives hope, and sometimes all we have is this hope.