I don’t know about you, but there are times when I just wonder where God is? Trying to work out how I got into a situation, even believing that I have been listening to Him and yet suddenly a door closes. Earlier this year, while I was in a place of confusion, a book came to the top of my reading pile – I’d started it before, but not got very far through it, this was clearly the time to read it as I couldn’t put it down. God On Mute, by Pete Greig.
‘If your deepest, most desperate prayers aren’t being answered, if life sometimes hurts so much that you secretly wonder whether God exists, and if He does whether He cares, and if He cares why on earth He just doesn’t do something to help, then you’re not alone.’ This is the first sentence of the Introduction, and immediately I thought this is what I need to read.
Pete explores 16 reasons why our prayers may not be being answered, dividing them into four sections.
1. GOD’S WORLD
• Common sense – some prayers aren’t answered because they’re just plain stupid! For example, praying to marry a prince or princess.
• Contradiction – some prayers aren’t answered because they contradict other prayers. For example, one person prays for rain for the garden and another for sunshine – both can’t be answered.
• The laws of nature – some prayers aren’t answered because they would be detrimental to the world and to the lives of others. For example, we need storms to clear the air, without them climate change would be even worse.
• Life is tough – some prayers aren’t answered because creation is ‘subject to frustration’ and has not yet been fully ‘liberated from its bondage to decay’ (Rom 8:20-21). Tragically, life in such an environment is inevitably going to be acutely difficult at times.
• Doctrine – some prayers aren’t answered the way we think they should be because our understanding and expectations of God are wrong.
2. GOD’S WILL
• God’s best – some prayers aren’t answered because God has got something even better planned for us.
• Motive – some prayers (even spiritual sounding ones) aren’t answered because they are, in fact, selfishly motivated.
• Relationship – some prayers aren’t answered because God Himself is a greater Answer than the thing we are asking for and He wants to use our sense of need to draw us into a deeper relationship with Himself. What He could be asking of you is a deeper relationship with Him.
• Free will – some prayers aren’t answered because God will not force a person to do something that he or she does not want to do.
• Influence – some of our prayers aren’t yet answered because they are working gradually and not as an impersonal mechanism of forced control.
3. GOD’S WAR
• Satanic opposition – some prayers aren’t answered because God’s will is being directly contested by ‘the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms’ (Eph 6:12). Perseverance, faith and authoritative uses of the Word of God become vital in winning through.
• Faith – some prayers aren’t answered because we just don’t believe they will be. However, faith grows as we get to know God and starting with smaller prayers can grow our faith and confidence in prayer.
• Perseverance – some prayers just haven’t been answered – yet! Whether your prayers are being resisted by mysterious spiritual forces, by stubborn people or even God Himself, just don’t give up!
• Sin – some prayers aren’t answered because of areas of disobedience in our lives. Are there hidden sins we need to confess or actions we need to take in order to lend power to our prayers?
• Justice – some prayers aren’t answered because of our disregard for the needs of others in our communities and in other nations too.
4. EXPLORING THE SILENCE
• Perhaps there aren’t answers, we simply need to trust God.
Pete explores dealing with pain, confusion, doubt and sin. And the fact that our unanswered prayers may actually be the real ministry of our lives.
If you’re struggling with unanswered prayer at the moment, I’d recommend this read. And I have a copy if anyone would like to borrow it.
RachelTags: Magazine, prayer