When Our Prayers Go Unanswered

We are in the middle of a prayer challenge at our church. We are calling our challenge “This One Thing.” This is not only guiding our times together on Sunday mornings as we examine the Scriptures about prayer, but we are also challenging one another about our discipline and habits of prayer.

Part of our challenge calls us to pray together each week about “one thing.” Two weeks ago, I asked that our “This One Thing” be praying for jobs. I have to be honest with you. I have heard more stories in the last two weeks of new job loss than I have job gains. That can be downright discouraging.

One of the most difficult elements of our praying is when our prayers go unanswered. Perhaps the real issue is not whether God answers our prayers, but that we do not like the answers sometimes. We can find encouragement in the fact that even Paul (2 Corinthians 12:1-10) and Jesus (Prayer before cross for the Father to take this cup) had requests denied by the Heavenly Father.

One of the Bible’s great statements on unanswered prayer actually comes in a story of answered prayer, but before the prayer is answered. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, Daniel’s three friends, were going to be thrown into a fiery furnace for refusing to bow down to a false god. Nebuchadnezzar, the wicked king, gave them one final chance to bow down. He taunted them with the words, “And who is the god who can rescue you from my power?”

Here is their response:

If the God we serve exists, then He can rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and He can rescue us from the power of you, the king. 18 But even if He does not rescue us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.” (Daniel 3:17-18)

This is a prayer of faith.

This prayer is the same prayer that Jesus prayed when He prayed:

And He said, “Abba, Father! All things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me. Nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.” (Mark 14:36)

(This post is based on the message “When Our Prayers Go Unanswered” which you can watch at fbclaf.org/video)