Probably one of the greatest challenges to faith is unanswered prayer. This is particularly the case as scripture gives us reason to bring our petitions to God with confidence. Matt 21:21-22, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done. 22And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”
There are times when the Lord provides exactly what we ask for; sometimes He responds in unexpected ways. Yet there are also occasions when our prayers seem to fall on deaf ears. No Christian will be blessed with everything they request. The reason for this according to 1 John 5:14 is because our will is not always God’s will. “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us”. God has a bigger picture in mind; one in which He is accomplishing more important things than granting our petitions.
Here are some possible reasons why particular prayers are not granted; reasons which fit into the bigger picture of God’s sovereign purposes:
- · We need to learn to go without
- · We need to learn to trust
- · We need to learn patience
- · We need to learn contentment
- · We need to learn thankfulness
- · We need to learn to suffer
- · We need to learn humility
God is in the business of sanctifying His people and growing them in godliness. This will of necessity mean that He denies us some things we want. If everything fell into our laps as soon as we asked, we would be spoilt, immature, and selfish. Furthermore, not everything we desire is in our best interests, we just don’t see it. Importantly, when God denies our petitions He provides something of greater value – His grace. He enables us to find hope and assurance and strength and peace and contentment as we look to Him. Our relationship to God actually deepens through denial and for this reason it is a blessing in disguise rather than a curse.