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!
Depression doesn’t have to become a permanent part of life.
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.
“As a counselor, I have read many books on depression, but I have never read a book that deals with the spiritual aspect of healing as thoroughly as does Hope Prevails. Dr. Bengtson draws from her own personal journey as well as her professional experience. I highly recommend this book for anyone who has tasted the pain of depression or knows a friend who is depressed.” – Gary Chapman, Ph.D., Author of The 5 Love Languages
(If you have a question you’d like Dr. B to answer, contact her here now. Your name and identity will be kept confidential.)