A country music song, recorded by the legendary Garth Brooks is titled, "Unanswered Prayers." The writer of the lyrics tells how he and his wife attended a high school football game in which he ran into his former sweetheart; the very girl whom he thought he loved, and had prayed to marry. As he talked with her, he saw her differently now as then, and knew that she saw him differently, as well.
As the former sweetheart walked away, he looked at his wife and whispered, "Thank You, God, for unanswered prayers."
How often do we pray, only to feel that our prayers are unanswered? When this is the case, do we not feel neglected and slightly abused? One thing that we must understand concerning prayer is that sometimes God answers with a definite "No!" However, when He does it, it is not because he is angry with us, or because he no longer loves us, but because He loves us so much that he will only give to us that which is best for us.
Any parent should be able to identify with this since we have had to turn our children down on many occasions when they asked us for things that we knew might harm them. Our love for them is so great that we had to say "No!" to their request, even though it meant that they might not understand, and even be angry with us.
God never gives to us anything that He has not thought out beforehand. He carefully considers our needs and weighs them against our wants, as well as the end result of His giving them; and all this is done before He ever answers. God never responds to our request when He knows that giving to us will ultimately harm us; therefore, we should always accept His answer (whatever it might be) as being His best for us.
God knows that as mere men, we have fickle imaginations. Not knowing the future, and all that lies ahead of us, we often ask amiss in the matter of prayer. But thankfully, even when we ask amiss, there is One who intercedes for us according to the will of God.
So often we do not know what to pray for. We are so caught up in the emotional stress and strain of life that we cannot think clearly. All we can do is pray that God will do something to deliver us from our present situation.
There is a promise of God found in Romans 8:28 that declares: "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose."
Notice that not all things are good, but that they work together for good. Adversity may cause us to worry and be discouraged, but as we learn to leave our problems with God and seek His wisdom, we will discover that the problems of the past become steppingstones of the future, filled with the wonders of God's love and providential care.
Jerry L. Dunn, pastor of Oak Street Baptist Church, Sixth and Oak Streets, can be reached by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.