By Susan Hales
I was alone on New Year’s Eve once again. Another dry and desolate year of singleness stretched before me. Persistent prayers for a man to love me and take care of me were unanswered. Why doesn’t God answer my prayers? Why is she getting married and not me? What is wrong with me? No one will ever love me.
An answer to prayer?
My gaze flew directly to his picture on the Christian dating site. His credentials and engaging smile attracted me. After clicking to correspond I got an answer immediately. David was the man of my dreams, just like King David, the man after God’s own heart. I anticipated every email and online chat session with him. Our online relationship intensified and David promised soon he would travel to meet me and start our life together. He was my Prince Charming, promising to fulfill all my wishes and desires. I thanked God for finally answering my prayers for a godly man to share my life.
My nagging doubts persisted–why can’t we talk on the phone? And why can’t I find information about him online? He answered my worrisome questions by explaining he was overseas on a top-secret military mission but would soon be released from his duties and able to travel back to the United States.
Suddenly, David wrote of a problem with our exciting plans. He required some cash to clear up a few troublesome financial problems before he could travel to meet me. If I could wire him $2000 then he would be here promptly to sweep me off my feet and marry me.
My dreams of the security of a happily ever after married life with the man of my dreams shattered around me when I realized David was an imposter and a scam artist. The intense pain, embarrassment, and shame consumed me.
Why isn’t God answering my prayers?
Why did God let this happen to me? I doubted God’s love. If prayer works, why doesn’t God answer my prayer for a husband?
It was painful and discouraging to pray for something for so long and not get what I asked for. Doesn’t God say he will give us what we want? Do you feel God is not listening to your prayers too?
Through a long season of pain, suffering, heartbreak, and repentance, I discovered God does answer our prayers. However, He doesn’t always answer them the way we want.
I also discovered three reasons why we believe God isn’t answering our prayers.
God says no
Why was I praying for a husband? To have someone to love me, make me feel secure, and take care of me. This was all about me. I was envious of others because I thought that if I got what they had I would be happy.
God answers “no” to prayers with selfish motives and not in His will. In His Sermon on the Mount Jesus instructs us how to pray, “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven’” (Matthew 6:10, NIV).
God is not a genie in a bottle who grants our every wish. Prayer is a conversation with God. We talk to him and listen to what He says to us. Make sure our prayers are not just a list of wants like a child’s Christmas list for Santa. Include thanksgiving and praise in our prayers.
I am so thankful God did not answer all my prayers! God loves us too much to give us everything we ask for.
God says not yet
Secondly, God says, “Wait, not yet. You need to grow up spiritually. You are not ready to receive all I have for you.”
But we want it now! Waiting for something you want is difficult. King David waited many times in his life. He wrote, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27:14, NIV).
I required significant growth in my faith. Now I understand no man could love me as much as God does. I do not need a man for security. All the security I need is in my Heavenly Father who watches over me and takes care of me.
God has better plans for us
Finally, God says, “my plans for you are so much better.” God knows the big picture. He may have much better plans in mind for us or answer our prayer in a way we don’t recognize.
I discovered God did have better plans for me! My prayers changed. I prayed, “God, what is your will for my life?” During this time, my favorite scripture was Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
A few months later, I decided to look for another job. And God gave me a fantastic job, in a new location near my family, right where He wanted me all along.
I still pray for a godly husband to share my life. I wonder if the answer to my prayer is no, not yet, or something even better. Only God knows the answer and the best plan for me.
God does indeed answer our prayers, just not always when and how we want them answered.
Is there something you have been praying about for a long time? Are you discouraged God hasn’t answered your prayers as I was? When we look at our motives, do our prayers glorify God or glorify us?
God is sovereign. His timing is perfect. Ask Him about His will for your life and trust your Heavenly Father knows what is best for you.
Finally, don’t give up! As Paul writes, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NIV).