When Your Prayers Don't Get Answered

mom and child
Praying with your child and not seeing quick answers can seem hopeless. Yet there's one thing we can do to keep our hope alive. (Charisma archives)

The other day at bed, my littlest girl and I prayed a bold prayer for a contract on our home ... that night. She doubts God right now. She doesn't see things changing ... she doesn't see God working. We all really need something to change soon, but God doesn't seem to be changing anything right now.

I wanted God to do something amazing that night ... I'd even have taken the next day. In fact, I thought it probably would be the following day.

Unfortunately, it didn't happen. And the "somewhat interested" response from the people who looked at my house caused my faith to wobble a bit.

See I've been reading a book that has encouraged me to pray big prayers so I can see God answer in big ways ... and I'm all for praying big prayers ... but I'm wondering if I pray big prayers for big answers, am I also praying big prayers understanding that God might not answer in a big way? His gentle and loving answer might be something like, "Not yet."

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But I will be honest and tell you that I am tired of the "not yet" answer ... and the "no" answer ... I'd like a "yes." But even as I say that I know that some of the noes and not yets have been the very best answers to my prayers. And I do trust Him to answer perfectly.

Argh! But I so want to get out of this situation ... when I've used the word "desperately" to describe something in the past I don't believe I've understood it as deeply as I do now ... I desperately want to be released from this place God has me and my children. I don't want to be here anymore. But I also don't want to force it and end up in a place I'll eventually desperately not want to be either.

I'd rather trust God.

That's huge. Because right now, I can tell you I've had some conversations with God ... and they haven't all been holy.

But when given the alternative of figuring things out without Him, I'd rather trust God.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths" (Prov. 3:5-6).

When faced with decisions and dilemmas in this life, I'd rather trust God.

"Now no discipline seems to be joyful at the time, but grievous. Yet afterward it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness in those who have been trained by it. Therefore lift up your tired hands, and strengthen your weak knees. Make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame go out of joint, but rather be healed" (Heb. 12:11-13).

When I'm trying to raise my children to love and honor Him, I'd rather trust God.

"All your sons shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your sons" (Is. 54:13).

When I'm exhausted and weary with nothing left to give, I'd rather trust God.

"But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore most gladly I will boast in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. So I take pleasure in weaknesses, in reproaches, in hardships, in persecutions, and in distresses for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Cor. 12:9-10).

When I have no idea which way to turn, I'd rather trust God.

"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul;
He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake" (Ps. 23:1-3).

No matter how strongly I feel that I know what would be best, I'd rather trust God.

"May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ" (2 Thess. 3:5).

Oh, how I need my heart directed. This has been an exceedingly difficult time ... and sometimes I don't think others can quite understand the challenges. I don't think I'm necessarily doing it with the grace I'd hoped, but the Lord continues to meet me where I am. He continues to love me through my doubts, fears and faltering faith. He continues to be faithful. I do trust that He will guide my family, that he is a shield about me, that he is my refuge and strength.

I do trust that He will enable me to do this life well ... even when it feels anything but wonderful.

And I do trust Him for the sale of my house and the purchase of our next home.

But most importantly, I trust that He will reveal Himself to my littlest girl in just the right way at just the right time. That I don't need to orchestrate things to convince my daughter of His love, faithfulness and existence! He will handle that ...I just need to love on her and pray.

So tonight, as I lay my head down on my pillow, I will be praying for my children and their faith and for me to trust Him without hesitation ... and for a buyer for my house!

Sue Birdseye is an author and single mom of five kids. Her book, When Happily Ever After Shatters (Tyndale House) is in bookstores. This is adapted from her blog, uptomytoes.com.

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