Dear Dr. B,
I feel like God didn’t answer my prayers and I’m so discouraged. How can I restore my faith and hope in God when I’m devastated?
Prayed but Discouraged
I’m so sorry you’re discouraged in your prayer life. I have been there several times in the course of my life, and it’s a painful place to sit. Because I’ve been there, I can assure you that you aren’t alone, although I know that that is only mildly encouraging when you are actually going through it. And let’s be honest, shall we? When we pray, we want God to answer our prayers the way we want them answered, when we want them answered!
When God doesn’t answer prayer the way we think or want
I’m going to be very vulnerable and transparent with you. Just recently, I went through something very similar to what you’ve described. I was going through a very tumultuous circumstance that needed God’s intervention. It was stressful and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it in my own strength. My own resources were insufficient to change the situation. I prayed, everyone in my family was praying, every member of my prayer team was praying, all my close friends whom I could trust with such confidential information were praying, and in the end all we could do was wait and trust on God to intervene. Several of them declared things like “I just know it’s going to be ok! God is going to show His favor on you!”
In the end, things didn’t go as we had hoped and I was, well, just as you described, devastated. I had done “nothing wrong.” In fact, I stood on the side of truth and had declared my faith in God. And yet, God didn’t answer our prayers the way we had hoped, or the way we thought He would. At first, I became so sad. The situation threatened to engulf me. As a little time passed, I became angry and had a little temper tantrum with God. If I’m being honest with you, I felt betrayed. I was serving Him in the situation, and yet I felt abandoned by Him. And then about as quickly as I got angry, I apologized to Him for my anger and declared that I would trust Him and His sovereignty. He knew much more about the situation than I did.
God answers prayers in three ways
You see, you have fallen prey to believing a lie of the enemy that so many of us have believed at one time or another, including me, that God didn’t answer your prayers. But Dear One, God always answers our prayers…just not always when or how we expect. God answers prayers in three ways: His answers are either “yes,” “no,” or “not now.” Sometimes His answer is “yes” and we receive the answer to our prayer right away. Those are the times when it’s easy to thank Him for the answers to our prayers. Sometimes His answer to our prayers is “no.” Those times can be a little harder to offer gratitude for the answer – at least it was initially for me.
We can only see the present, and that’s what we are always most concerned about, but He is always orchestrating the bigger picture. Think of it this way: we always hold a single puzzle piece – that’s all we can see, while God is busy working the entire puzzle together to create a beautiful masterpiece. God’s masterpiece.
If we truly believe in God and believe His word then we have to believe all of it, and that includes Romans 8:28 which says “He works all things together for good for those who love Him and have been called according to His purpose.” So even when it looks in the present like He isn’t answering our prayers, or isn’t answering them the way we would like Him to, we must believe that He is working even that situation together for our ultimate good. We must be willing to surrender to Him the single puzzle piece that we are holding onto to work into that beautiful masterpiece.
Sometimes His answer to our prayers is “not now” because He is busy putting other pieces of the puzzle together, or teaching us important lessons first before He answers our prayers in the way we would like. If there is one thing I’ve learned in my relationship with God, it’s that we serve an On-Time God. He is NEVER late, but He is also rarely early. He is always On-Time, and His answer to our prayers is always for our ultimate good and for His glory. What’s hard for us to understand and accept is that we can’t see how His answers today are for our good tomorrow.
During those times when it seems like God is not answering our prayers, we must be steadfast and diligent, continuing to pray. Trust that He IS answering, but in the right time. Scripture reminds us to “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9 NIV).
Pray believing God will answer
So continue to pray believing that God will answer because He always does. And let me encourage you to take even one more step of faith and thank Him in advance for His answers!
If you’ve had a similar experience, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. It’ll encourage someone else!
Because of Him, #HopePrevails!
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There is hope.
Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression and the companion Hope Prevails Bible Study help the reader understand how depression comes to be, recover their joy, reclaim their peace, and re-establish their true identity, while knowing their worth, remembering their secure destiny, and being confident that nothing separates them from God’s love.
Hope Prevails and the Hope Prevails Bible Study are must-reads for anyone suffering from depression or knows someone suffering from depression.
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(If you have a question you’d like Dr. B to answer, contact her here now. Your name and identity will be kept confidential.)
Very good and honest post. You are just describing here what we live in our daily life. The question is : do we want something from God or do we want Him ? I realized after times of great turmoil, solitude and darkness that God wants a relationship with me, in time of joy and time of sadeness, when I’m ok and when I’m not Ok at all, when I’m angry at me or at Him; His presence and peace is so precious ! When i see that my “answers” are delayed or in front of God’s silence, better is just getting closer to him and meditate his Word. In this way, we can stand on the Truth and not only on our impressions, feelings and emotions. 🙂
Great post! Thanks for the honest sharing. I’ve been there, too. I’m so glad that God is big enough, and loving enough, to handle our temper tantrums! Just recently, He’s been teaching me not only to thank Him, but to praise Him for those answers I can’t see yet! The answer–the one that is in my best interest and for His glory–is already true so I can let go and just praise Him!
It is hard on our emotions and our faith when we think we are doing all the right things, and God answers “no” or “not now.” It’s easy for “not now” to feel like “not ever.” I appreciate the thoughtful and honest response to this question we have all asked on occasion. Missed you this year at BRMCWC.
I’ve been there, in that place of deep discouraged, after praying so long and hard for something (many things actually). Yes, God does always answer prayer. We need to align ourselves with His truth and keep pressing in to ask what His plan is. Thank you for sharing!
Michelle, this is so encouraging. Thank you for sharing your heart. I will be sharing this with my online prayer group. Hugs
Love this!!! It is so true, I am going through something in my life for now two and half years and instead of getting better, it has gotten worse. A lot of people have been praying but we have to remember this will all work out for the glory of Him!!
Visiting you from rara link up
Great answer! Discouragement is one of the enemies biggest weapons! Good insight! Thank you for being transparent! This will help many! Blessings, Carin
I love how God is so much bigger than we are and sees all things so completely and knows what is best with us. However, I agree it can be frustrating when our prayers are so focused on only what we can see. Thanks for the reminder to pray big and trust our big God. Our blogging community would be blessed if you shared this devotion at the Literacy Musing Mondays Linkup. #LMMLinkup http://www.foreverjoyful.net/?p=1135
Love your jigsaw puzzle analogy. I prayed the same prayer for 21 years. I felt discouraged too because my prayer wasn’t answered in the way I wanted. Now that it has been, I look back over those years and realize God was shaping and molding my heart, refining me to be like pure gold. And I realize how much more I could have trusted God during that time.
Hi, dear Michelle, I just want to say it’s quite frustrating for me to receive no feedback about my comments. 🙁 Why asking leaving comments ? My comments are not just about me but a way to share and communicate. Is Internet just a place to market or a place to help ? I wonder…
I appreciate the content of your blog but beeing left without any answer contredicts the things you share. Are people important ?
Just to help you beeing consistant with the message you share.
Perhaps you don’t have time for people who are leaving comments,I can understand that. So don’t ask for comments or delegate answers to a safe person.
With my best regards. Blessings. May God help you and give you strengh to poursue your journey and be a blessing to people.
I am not sure where I first learned and grabbed hold of the fact that Father hears and He answers, always. I know it is in scripture but I had to believe it. I do thank Him for His answers even as I am praying. Once I lay out my request for Him then I thank Him for how and when the answer will come. I have been a bit frustrated lately in prayer because as I have prayed over you, I have not seen the manifestation of the answer to my prayers but then I am reminded that Father is always working to answer my prayer whether I see it or not and also whether the answer looks like I expect or not. Usually that is what trips me up with seeing prayers answered is that it does not look like I think it will. I must put the specific expectations out of my brain and just trust Father that He hears, He answers and He has His own way of doing things. He doesn’t dance to my drum beat but I want to and am supposed to dance to His, follow Him, obey Him. Thank you, Dr. Michelle, for this amazing message!!! I am blessed!
Hey Friend! I need these words today! Thank you! I’m still hoping for a meet-up!
I can identify with the process of waiting on the Lord as I’ve been praying for twenty three years for my husband’s salvation. It is hard to wait and not be discouraged. I find when I need to be comforted, the Word of God always has a verse to give me hope along with perseverance in praying over my situation. I like what you said that God is never late…neither is He early but right on time. With all the factors of the Pandemic and then the sheltering in place, I find time to direct my petitions to the Lord and wait patiently for Him. He is working within my husband’s heart to find peace that passes all understanding.
Well, I must share what the Lord did today for me. I have a dear friend who has been suffering greatly with pain mostly due to treatments for cancer. The pain has been so severe and keeping her from sleeping. Last night my heart was so heavy and before I went to bed I cried out to God for her asking Him to take the pain away and give her a pain free day and a good day. Then this morning I heard from her that she and her family were spending the day with some family. I was so thrilled later in the day to hear from her that she had a wonderful day. I just rejoiced for the Lord DID answer my prayers for her giving her a beautiful and precious joyful day. I had been discouraged as my prayers seemed to not being answered but then I must remember, as you have spoken,, that God answers my prayers but just not the way I had hoped. But He sure did answer my prayers today JUST AS I had hoped and even better! Glory to God!!