As Christians, each of us knows the power of prayer. We’ve all had God show up and show off in one way or another throughout our lives. Maybe the person the doctors were giving up on pulled through. When they said there’s no way, you took it to your heavenly Father and the individual is still with us today.
For others, an answered prayer looks a little differently. A separation was made and papers signed, but the divorce never became final. When you and your spouse were at your darkest hour, the Holy Spirit showed up, shining a light on the situation. For many of the people I know and am close to, the miracle of prayer is a certain number of days without using a drug or drinking alcohol.
Read: Talkers and Doers
My intention of writing this wasn’t to list all the ways prayer has been answered. In a way, it’s kind of the opposite. If praying is your only response to a situation or circumstance, you’re not doing nearly enough. Again, I’m not downplaying the significance of petitioning God with the impossible. Prayer is and will always be a significant part of my daily life. What I’m saying is, according to Scripture, there comes a time when God says, “Is that it? Talking to me is all you’re going to do about this?” Let me explain.
The Lord said to Moses,
“Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground.” Exodus 14:15-16
After crying out to God for rescue, Moses is told to stop crying for help and to do something. If God was speaking to us audibly as He did here with Moses, I can’t help but believe many of us, including myself, would hear the same response at times. “Stop crying to me, and use the strength and abilities I give you to do something.”
Again, I can’t reiterate enough, prayer has to be a part of our relationship with Jesus. Communication is key when it comes to pursuing God. That being said, I think many of our prayers we feel go unanswered are God waiting for us to discover ourselves, who we are in Him. Here are a few things I have learned from the past when it comes to taking action on a prayer I feel God isn’t responding to.
What prayer have you had the longest?
To keep this as simple as possible, let’s focus on a specific prayer instead of praying in general. Each of us has something we have been praying about for a significant period of time. Maybe it’s for someone’s health. Many people spend years praying that a child, spouse, family member, or someone else would find Jesus. The subject matter isn’t what’s important. I simply need you to identify the most significant prayer you’ve had for a while. It’s even better if you’re unable to recognize God giving this any attention.
Yours will be different than mine. This isn’t a right or wrong answer. For me, one of the prayers I have had the longest is that God would use the talents I have been blessed with as a writer to inspire someone else to seek Him on a more intimate level. I have been praying this since October 18 of 2012. I know because it’s written in my Bible.
During many seasons of life since 2012, this prayer has felt empty. I believe deep inside my heart that writing is a significant part of God’s purpose in my life. During times when this prayer feels unanswered, I am not myself. It feels as if a part of who I am is missing. Still today, this same prayer is something I talk to God about regularly. More often than not, when I allow this to disturb my soul, there’s something God is leading me to do.
What action can you start taking?
Go back to whatever the prayer was that first came to mind when you read the question. What prayer is it you have had that has kept you awake the latest at night? More than likely, yes, you need God to get involved. If He doesn’t come through and do something quickly, there’s going to be drastic effects in your life. Still, what action can you start taking now while demonstrating your faithfulness to God?
Does your family need a prayer to be answered concerning your finances? What can you do about it? Sure, I know this is wrecking your life and you have tried everything that comes to mind. But still. What can you keep doing that shows God how desperate you are for His involvement? What can you do differently? Maybe the answer is to keep doing the same thing, just with another approach or perspective.
When it came to my writing, there have been two areas God has directed my attention with what I thought was His silence. Now again, I’m sure the majority of you out there have prayers much more significant than me wanting to be a successful writer. I am just using the experience I have had.
In order to inspire others with what I was writing about Jesus and the Bible, I had to spend more time writing. I allowed this to consume my schedule. I don’t even want to think about how many hours a week I have spent at my desk with my nose in a Bible, pouring my heart out onto a pad of paper. If I wanted to be a writer, I had to give myself more opportunities. Not only did I need to spend more time writing, but I also needed to start living the words I would write. I needed to set a better example for someone to follow. What action is God calling you towards through His silence?
How can this action intensify your prayer going forward?
We’ve all heard it. I’ve heard it so many times I can’t even remember who said it first. “Work as if the results depend on you. Pray as if they depend on God.” For me, when I look back at these times through my journal, there’s something that grabs my attention. The more effort I apply towards what I am praying for, the more intense my prayers become.
I think a big part of this alone plays a role in God leaving us on our own to accomplish what we are begging Him to do. Not only do we spend more time seeking Him in prayer, but the more sincere and authentic they also become. For example, when my daughter simply asks me to buy her a new barbie, it doesn’t get much of my attention. That being said, it’s a little more dramatic when she puts just a little effort into it.
She’ll be in my office with me watching television across the room while I’m working at my desk. A commercial will come on of the barbie or whatever it is she’s wanting. She instantly starts applying an effort. She’ll get my attention, asking me to look at the television. Then, she’ll tell me exactly what’s different between the barbie on tv and the ones she already has. When the commercial is over, she follows this up by making sure I know how much more amazing her life would be if she had this barbie. She assures me exactly how much more complete her life will be with the barbie.
It’s no different than how we should act while talking to our heavenly Father. As more and more action is taken, our prayers should be drastically revised. This does two things. For starters, it creates more intimacy between us and Him. Also, this places our prayers more in line with what His will is in the matter.
Jeffrey has a degree in theology from Aidan University and is the founder of Gospel Grammar in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. His goal is to inspire others to seek a more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.
Thank you for writing this, brother. I’ve been going through deep heartache this year and the phrase you used here: “During times when this prayer feels unanswered, I am not myself. It feels as if a part of who I am is missing”. Maybe in slughtly different way thsn what you have experienced but definitely been feeling a huge chunk of my heart this year I gave was taken for granted and am thankful that even though I can’t see or hear God I know and trust He is there because He says He is and has proven He hears the prayers in the past I thought He mighta forgot about. Keep writing and don’t worry about being “sucessful” writer. You’ve been given a gift and just keep using it knowing in God’s eyes it is a success and none of us may ever know this side if eternity how many people we blessed who read our stuff and never responded but nevertheless were changed.
Thank you for the kind words. I pray the lord can mend your broken heart. Blessings.