Unanswered Prayer (2)

Unanswered prayer does not always point to our faithlessness, superficiality, sin, or pride.

Yes, those things can certainly throw up barriers (which I noted in the last post). However, many a godly man or woman, authentically repentant and genuinely humble, has heard nothing but the silence of God.

Though we strain to seek Him, He is not easily found. Knock as hard as we can, the door remains closed. And it’s easy to think that we have lost the Father’s favor.

Unanswered Prayer

Why do some of the most self-absorbed believers seem to receive the most extravagant answers to prayer—healing, prosperity, employment, and the like—while others (who live sacrificially) suffer God’s seeming deafness?

If the Lord’s answer to prayer served as a barometer of His love, then many a believer might feel abandoned and desolate.

The young Christian couple whose helpless child battles leukemia might wonder about prayer. The Christian mother whose son is charged by police might wonder about prayer. The Church pastor whose family falls apart despite his “call” might wonder about prayer.

At some point, don’t we all?

Unanswered prayer sometimes has easily identified roots. But other times it completely stymies us. It defies rhyme or reason. And God’s silence can overtake our souls.

In the 16th century, St. John of the Cross suggested that Christ allows the “dark night of the soul” so that we might be purged of the superficial and drawn into deeper communion with Him. But to give our grief and pain a simple label—“dark night of the soul”—is not to answer the conundrum.

Truthfully, who can speak about prayer with utter clarity? But therein perhaps lies the kernel of truth that helps us move forward.

Might it be that prayer becomes the greatest sign of our faith, when we continue to pray despite the silence?

We know that the Father sees more than we do. We affirm His fundamental love and grace. And so we pray. We pray when the responding silence deafens us. We pray when answers are few and far between. We pray when we feel unworthy. We pray when common-sense says to quit.

We simply pray…believing that these whiffs of incense (Revelation 8:3-4) will one day—if not today—turn our mourning into dancing.

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11 Responses to Unanswered Prayer (2)

  1. Diana Saenz says:


  2. Maggie Fitzpatrick says:

    I know God hears every word I speak and think when I pray, but I just needed to read this today to be encouraged to continue praying and growing closer to Him when my prayers “seem” unanswered. He is Sovereign!

    • David Timms says:

      Thanks for your note, Maggie. I suspect that I needed to write it for myself, as much as you may have needed to hear it. Blessings as you continue to raise those “whiffs of incense.”

  3. There’s a good reason to pray. These whiffs are pleasing to God. Whatever is on our heart, we can take it to him and know that he is pleased by our efforts. Did you ever buy flowers for your wife just because you knew it would make her happy. Every night at 6:00 my grandmother used to call from the farm. She was on a party line (for all you city folk, that means several houses share the same line), and after the Copeland family made their calls at 5:45, Grandma would call. Why? She loved us, and we loved her. Why do we pray? Do we love our father enough to just give him a call! Each time I pray, I try to remind myself in some way of God’s love for me.

    • Tim Ross says:

      Phillip, That is a beautiful response. “Do we love our Father enought to just give him a call!” Amen Phillip, Amen! Our Father hears every word, knows every thought, and feels every emotion we feel. So often we pray all about ourselves. Yet, like Rick Warren states at the beginning of his book, A Purpose Driven Life: It’s not about you. It’s about serving our God who loves us. Thank you for your response.

    • David Timms says:

      Phillip, thanks for that helpful illustration. The “party line” may have even more applications as we think about prayer!

  4. Christine Bailey says:

    I love that thought from Phillip. I regularly love to “call” the father because I love him and know that he hears my prayers and if I do not receive the answer I am waiting on he will reveal to me on the journey of life the reason why and if not, he will provide the strength to trust and walk forward with him, There are so many things of life that we do not understand but I do know my redeemer lives, hears my heart and is faithful to all his promises. He will always be with us on the journey of life and prayer does change things. Thanks for the thoughts David

  5. Tim Ross says:

    David, I think the subject of prayer is one of the most important topics you can write about today because so many believers read Jesus’ words “I will do whatever you ask in my name” (John 14:13) and expect it to be done especially if we are praying for things that God says He wants. When it does not come to pass we lose faith. Your messages are vitally important to this generation that is so self-absorbed as you rightly point out. Our culture is preaching a faster and faster life style, with faster and faster service from banks and other service organizations. We are being taught that everything is here to serve us. The message of the cross is so counter-culture. So keep writing on prayer. Many of us need to read these words of life. Our task is to serve our Master no matter if we hear from Him. He is listening. The question really is are we?

    • David Timms says:

      Thanks for your note, Tim. I particularly heard your comment about “a faster and faster lifestyle.” That surely impacts prayerfulness for most of us.

  6. Garry and Sheila says:

    Dr. Timms

    Your insights into topics relevant to Believers has helped me to dig deeper, to think on topics that I had previously not delved into, has helped me to see God in many different ways. Thanks for the time you put in on these articles, they are very helpful to me. My wife reads them, then I read then, then we have a discussion….

    Garry Wells

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