“Examine the situation in light of Scripture and common knowledge, seek the advice and counsel of other believers, evaluate your skills, abilities and gifts, and consider the impact the alternatives will have on yourself and others. Review the factors involved with the Lord in prayer, ask for His help and then make a decision. Trust the Lord to direct your steps. With His word in your mind, His spirit in your heart and a desire to please Him impressed on your will, you may follow what seems the best course and assume that such a course is God’s answer to prayer” [Hunter, 80].*
This is our author’s advice about what to do when God does not answer prayer.
This situation can be disconcerting, discouraging and downright confusing. You have prayed and prayed. You have poured out your heart. You have sent God your most fervent words of supplication and
Some people continue with prayer in spite of not getting an answer.
Some people get so frustrated that they have a loss of faith.
Some people just throw up their hands and move on to other concerns.
This situation can be damaging for Christians who are serious in their relationship with God. In our world today, we expect answers.
My wife recently told me about overhearing a fellow shopper interact with a store employee in a local grocery store. This woman had been a frequent shopper in this store for quite some time. She could not locate an item she needed for a recipe and she asked a store employee to help her find the item; she needed it. The employee tried and eventually said, “I don’t think we have it any more.” The woman would not take no for an answer. My wife listened to her interact with the store employee. “I need to speak to someone else. You just don’t get it. I have bought this here before.” The employee said “I am sorry; I can’t find it.” Again and again, she expressed the idea that “You just don’t get it; you just don’t get it…” My wife said it was as if she was purposefully trying to cajole the employee into producing the item through humiliation. Her strategy did not work.
Surely we don’t try to humiliate God to get what we want but how do we take no for an answer?
Our problem may be that we may be unwilling to act on our own behalf. What this means is that some Christians use the “no” as a reason to do nothing. We act in a passive manner, procrastinating on taking any action that we could take.
My belief is that God has given each of us specific skills and abilities. Maybe God is waiting on us to act to help ourselves before He steps in.
Hunter* cites the relationship that Jesus had with his Father as support for this idea. He says that Jesus led a life of personal responsibility while He was on earth. He gave responsible service to God, never expecting God to do something He was capable of doing. We want to pray to God “If you loved me you would help.” We can’t believe that God would say “Because I love you, I won’t. I’ll help you do it yourself.”
God knows us intimately and He knows what we are capable of doing. He is our Savior but He may not be open to our mechanical manipulation and exploitation. He has made us and expects us to use our God-given skills when we can.
Some of us [I am speaking about myself] won’t let concerns be handled by God. I keep worrying myself over matters that are beyond my control. Others may be too quick to pray and turn everything over to God. God is supposed to do all the heavy lifting and we are left with nothing to do at all.
Worrying about things beyond our scope of action is not good but inaction when we could take action is not good either. God is my treasure in heaven. He gives me strength, wisdom, peace and understanding beyond my capability.
He has also given me some skills and I appreciate those skills.
I think He wants me to use those skills or He would not have given them to me.
Skills to help myself
Ephesians 2:10 “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
*W. Bingham Hunter The God Who Hears