Before we get to the subject of unanswered prayers, we must start with defining prayer; what is prayer? Prayer is the act of communicating with God in the spirit. Supplication, thanksgiving, bringing our thoughts, concerns, success and failures to Him. When praying, we bring God a variety of requests and thanksgiving to God. For example, we ask for forgiveness of sin and beseech spiritual strength as well as power for physical problems. We ask God to reveal His plan for our lives and as Christians, we pray for loved ones and people in general. So prayer is an intimate conversation with God, where we bring concerns, thanksgiving, praise, worship, requests to God.
Often critics of Christianity will point to unanswered prayers as proof to disprove there is a God. However, that's a problematic, flawed view of God's nature. First, to be honest, I don't know anyone who hasn't felt a prayer went unanswered. I don't know anyone who doesn't ask themselves why God didn't intervene with a distinct issue in their lives. And, one of the biggest issues I want to point out, we have the hardest time forgiving ourselves even though Christ has forgiven us. I say that because most of the time people will claim, it's their sin that's keeping God from answering their prayers, or maybe they've done something too bad for God to forgive. Thus, some conflate the flesh with the spiritual reality of God's love for His children. I think, we have to understand that unanswered prayers aren't necessarily unanswered, instead answered in a way we didn't expect. Sometimes the silence can be deafening. I know. If we live in the flesh, instead of the spirit, through our beliefs in Christ, we'll never learn to trust in His grace.
There's a human feeling, a fleshly sorrow we, as humans, have. But, that's not a spiritual anguish. It doesn't mean that carnal pain is worthless, but it's worthless in the eye's of God because our trust should be in Him. Faithful sadness, a contrite spirit brings us to repentance, and then we can see God's nature for what it is. That doesn't mean we'll always understand the answers to our prayers, but it does mean, we trust, the response to said prayer is in His hands and that His grace is sufficient.
Having a spouse cheat on you and then seek a divorce hurts like a knife cutting your heart to pieces, and we don't understand why God doesn't respond to our request to rehabilitate the relationship. Men have to leave their homes and let a judge decide when he can see his children. This reality compounds the hurt and heartache. You feel broken like a delicate glass smashed against a boulder. Where was God when I was on my knees for hours begging Him to fix the situation? In the flesh, it's easy to fall apart, and even in our spirit we're grieved and it seems like God's not listening. Why? God's response can be a complicated one. But, a direct responsibility is to rest solely in Christ. To rest our spirit in Christ's grace, that's what unanswered prayers produce, the ability to rest in the Lord and wait for His guidance. Because we just might miss the best thing that's ever happened to us, we must understand God's nature is not one of resentment for His people.
I know this waiting on the Lord is easier said than done. There's no doubt we have the hardest time believing God could love us because, to be honest, most of us don't understand love. God's love isn't man's love. We as human beings have severe comprehension issues in understanding God's purpose for our lives. We are His creation. For most of us, it's hard to recognize God's answers are for His mission. At the same time know, God doesn't give up on His people.
Spiritual apathy is a disease that disconnects us from God's grace in exchange for what we perceive to be God not caring. Apathy is not a characteristic of God. Rest assured that unless we seek answers in the spirit, we will never understand the grace, mercy, and love of God through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In this dispensation of grace, we have access to God through prayer. Sometimes God answers prayers exactly as we ask, and sometimes God answers our prayers in a way we could never have imagined. Nonetheless, the prayer was answered. At times, unanswered prayers are for the best. For example, praying to marry someone might turn out to be a horrible idea, and later you thank God for that unanswered prayer. We all, at some point, have had unanswered prayers work for our benefit.
Now, at times, unanswered prayers breaks my human, spiritual heart. The children dying in hospitals because of cancer and other unspeakable acts of violence which are all but explainable. It's easy to say it's because man has free will. Therefore, evil is allowed to persist until such time God sees fit to bring judgement to His enemies and reward His children. As evil is in this world, we must not grow weary of the fact that God doesn't leave His children broken forever. I know this is easier said than done, but living in the spirit is the only way to reconcile the pain of this world with God's grace.
Lost children, lost loved ones can take a toll on anyone to the point to where they hate God because they forget the bigger picture isn't about them. Believe me, I know firsthand what it's like to live in the spirit and be walked out on in a marriage losing three children, wondering why what did I do? I read the Bible. I prayed. I went to church, and things still fell apart. Why? I still don't know, but God's grace is sufficient and covers and a multitude of sins. I don't know why parents lose their children. But, I do know this isn't goodbye, but see you later. Of course, that doesn't numb the unspeakable pain, however, it does give hope to the realization that our relationship with God creates spiritual direction; thus, spiritual strength through trusting in Him. Rest in Him in pain, joy, triumph, defeat, prosperity, and in destitution, rest in Him because unanswered prayers aren't unanswered at all, the way we perceive the response leaves the impression that nothing's been answered. However, we aren't promised anything on this earth except that by believing in Christ's death, burial, and resurrection, we have eternal life.