I’ve been praying certain prayers for years.
Prayers for healing, prayers for salvation, and prayers for protection.
Prayers I feel certain God desires, too, but prayers He hasn’t answered yet.
If we were to take a survey of people who abandon their faith, I bet unanswered prayers would be a top reason. There was a crisis and people prayed, crying out to God, but their prayers seemed to fall on deaf ears. There was no answer, or the answer was not the one expected, and people lost belief as a result.
There is no easy answer to why God answers some prayers and not others. However, God does help us understand what believing Him means. Let’s look at Isaiah 43:10.
You are my witnesses,’ declares the Lord, ‘and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me.
“You are my witnesses and my servant that I have chosen.” This verse defines who we are to God.
We are witnesses. Witnesses to what? Witnesses to His might and power. Witnesses to the answered prayers. Witnesses that He is who He says He is.
We are also servants. In what way do we serve God? We serve Him by being witnesses and then telling others about Him. God has chosen us to be these people.
“‘That you may know and believe me.'”
This next few parts of Isaiah 43:10 are key to answering the question, “How do I believe when my prayers aren’t answered?” Here God says that we must first know Him. It’s through knowing Him – His character, tendencies, past, and words – that strengthen us to believe.
We can’t believe God without knowing God.
So how can we know God? Through spiritual disciplines like prayer and community with other believers, but primarily through studying His Word. It’s through reading and studying the Bible that we get to know God. It’s God’s personal journal to us telling us everything He’s done and what He’s going to do.
Knowing God is key to sustaining belief in God.
“‘And understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me.'” This part of the verse helps answer the question, “Why?” Why doesn’t God answer all my prayers? Because He is God. That’s the bottom line. There are some questions that will never have sufficient answers for our human minds. But when we know God, we understand that He is who He says He is and He’ll do what He says He’ll do (I learned that principle in Believing God by Beth Moore) despite what seems to be a lack of participation in our current circumstances.
This humbles us and makes us uncomfortable.
In our American culture, independence is celebrated. We’re taught from an early age that hard work and perseverance will get us most anything in life. This makes it hard to surrender to God who sometimes says, “no.”
But Isaiah 55:8 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.”
God is up to something bigger than just our current circumstances.
He’s busy saving the world, and He’ll use whatever path, including our circumstances, to do that if it brings Him the most glory in the end.
God has the end in mind.
God wants us to focus on what He does do for us – the prayers He does answer – and then tell others about them. It’s natural to grieve the prayers He doesn’t answer, but let’s remember that God loves us, always knows what’s best for us, and has a plan to make us more like Him.