5 Reasons For Unanswered Prayers
Unanswered Prayers are Frustrating!
Why does it feel like God often withholds information? Sometimes we pray and ask for wisdom, and we are left with unanswered prayers. It feels like we are left in the dark.
God acts in mysterious ways, and the mystery of Christ leaves aspects of our faith unknowable.
However, for logically minded individuals, allowing ourselves to accept our own confusion is disheartening. The simple response that unanswered prayers should just prompt more faith leaves many to walk away from faith altogether.
While we can’t fully understand God, we can understand why He doesn’t tell us everything.
God's View on Knowledge
When God first created the earth, He only imposed one “rule” on humans:
“And the Lord commanded the man, saying ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die’” (Gen. 2:16-17).
God’s commandment was for Adam and Eve to avoid the tree of knowledge in order to protect their own lives. God didn’t want Adam or Eve to put themselves in a position where they were outside of His protection.
Unfortunately, if you’re familiar with how sin entered the world, then you know that the serpent manipulated Eve into doubting God’s commandment. In essence, Satan used the famous question “Did God really say…?”
When Eve desired wisdom and power, she ate from the tree of knowledge, and ever since, sin curses humanity.
So why was it important to God that man refrain from eating fruit from the tree of knowledge?
Well, God doesn’t want us to doubt His knowledge in an effort to seek out our own subpar knowledge. The more we strive to boost our own intellect, the more we chase after our own understanding and forget our dependence on God. We choose pride over faith. We choose to make a name for ourselves instead of spreading His name.
You might be thinking, okay that might be true, but why does God purposefully leave us in a dependent state? Why would He deliberately choose to leave our questions unanswered? Why does He wait to answer our prayers and seem silent in our situation?
The mysteries of this world can produce more faith, sure, but the reason God doesn’t provide us with all the answers is more than that.
5 Reasons for Unanswered Prayers and Unanswered Questions
1. Unanswered questions humble us.
When we fail to understand something, we recognize our own human limits and our need for God. We are humbled into acknowledging that while we are made in the image of God, we are not God. There is an order to the Earth, and we are vessels not creators.
This right order allows us to seek to be a vessel for Christ. Creation is dependent on God, and we as believers must rightfully bear the image of God, seeking to live out His principles and priorities. As image-bearers, we long to represent Jesus to the world. We are ambassadors that bring His good news to others who are hurting.
Even though we sin daily, we are humbled knowing that Christ ultimately provides us with a new identity in Him. In Christ, we are no longer under the weight of sin, but God sees us as He sees Jesus – stain-free and saved. That is completely humbling.
2. Unanswered questions deepen our understanding for and appreciation of God’s divinity.
Satan wants to trick us into believing the lie that we must know it all in order to feel significant and worthy. Satan wants us to believe unanswered prayers mean that God doesn't care. God tells us the opposite. He started the world by providing everything that humans needed. It was only when Adam and Eve doubted His provision that they started to be found lacking.
Unlike humanity, Jesus understood that God wasn’t withholding but protecting. Out of His divinity, Christ not only understood His position before God the Father, but He also paid the penalty so that we can be in the right position, too.
When we go to God in our weakness and say, “I don’t get it,” it allows God the chance to show us “I do.”
We can better appreciate God’s role as a nurturing Father who wants to provide not only everything we need but everything we will need in Christ.
3. Unanswered questions protect us out of God’s love for us.
Eve was deceived. She thought God’s rule was limiting, when in reality, God’s rule was protecting. He wanted to shelter Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden – free from toil and tears.
Like Eve, we buy the false narrative that God is only out to get us, to keep a tally of our wrongdoing, and to punish us.
The problem with that thinking is that it was not God’s intention to act as a tyrannical force over humans. That is Satan’s job. He wants us to think of God as a list of rules instead of God’s true intention – to protect us with His commandments that originate out of His love for us.
God enacted the commandment in Genesis 2:16-17 – not to eat from the tree of knowledge – in order to protect them.
Just think about it. If we knew every detail about the earth and every thought of other humans, wouldn’t it overwhelm us? Wouldn’t we get scared knowing all of the possible natural disasters, tragedies, and broken relationships?
God leaves us with finite knowledge in order to protect us from unnecessary stress. Instead, we can rely on Him to have it figured out.
4. Unanswered questions allow God to provide for us according to His perfect timing.
Some of us are left with big questions. We want answers now. The fact of the matter is that God’s timing is just better than ours. He doesn’t operate in a world of instant gratification. We might have to wait for our unanswered prayers to be answered, but they will be answered in a way far better than we could imagine.
It took thousands of years for God to provide the Sacrificial Lamb – Jesus – to pay the once-and-for-all penalty for the sin that Eve started. It will take Him thousands more to send Jesus again.
God might operate on a different timeline than what we would prefer, but His provision is much better than what we could provide ourselves. We are so often like Eve, reaching for something that will only bring ruin. God wants to provide what will only bring good.
5. Unanswered questions inspire worship and gratitude.
When we are left wondering why, we can worship the One who knows why in our situation and in our family member’s situation and in our friend’s situation and in someone across the globe’s situation. He knows every why.
The realization of our lack of answers does produce more faith because it leads us to worship. We become grateful for the Lord who has it figured out long past our wrongdoing, long past our best accomplishment, and long past our deathbed.
We might not have all the answers in this lifetime, but Jesus promises to become the ALL in our lives until He returns to prove His power once again on earth.