Not all prayers are answered by God. When one is facing some heavy burden God does not move away, what should our attitude be? The Bible often talks about waiting for God patient. How do we apply these Bible verses?

  • 2
    great question. – Greg McNulty Mar 22 '12 at 17:37
  • ALL prayers are "answered" - sometimes it's "yes", sometimes it's "no", and sometimes it's "you won't know yet" – warren Mar 23 '12 at 12:48
  • @warren: So if your infant child is sick, and you pray to God, but your child still dies, then the answer is 'No'? – Jim G. Mar 24 '12 at 13:13
  • @Jim G. - that is what I would say, yes: it's precisely how God answered David – warren Mar 26 '12 at 13:16

First, we should recognize that our requests were not in accordance with His will:

1 John 5:14-15 (NASB)
14 This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.

That's not to say that our asking for it was sinful (though, that's a possibility: James 4:3), but we do not have all of the information that God has. Keep in mind that what seems painful at the time, may be in your ultimate best interest. Therefore, knowing this, consider it all joy that God is able to work out all things for the best.

Romans 8:28 (NASB)
28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

James 1:2-4 (NASB)
2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

One example of this principle at work is given by Paul, who describes to the Corinthians a "thorn in his flesh" that he wished to be taken away.

2 Corinthians 12:8-9 (NASB)
8 Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. 9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

God told Paul no, and Paul saw in hindsight that God used this thorn to keep Paul from spiritual pride (v7).

So trust God that His plan is superior to our own. Through all hardships (and good times, for that matter), trust God, constantly seeking closeness with Him.

Matthew 6:25-34 (NASB)
    25 “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27 And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? 28 And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29 yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! 31 Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ 32 For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
  34 “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

  • 1
    you might also want to add 2 Cor 12:7 – warren Mar 23 '12 at 12:50
  • @warren, good call. – Eric Mar 23 '12 at 20:29

As in all things, our example should be the Savior. Witness his attitude in the Garden of Gethsemane, when he earnestly wants something even though he knows that it's not right:

Matthew 26: 39

And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.

If it can happen to Jesus, it can happen to us as well, and here we see the appropriate way to handle it.


The whole story of Habakuk tells us how the prophet kept crying out to God but without a reply whiles suffering continues with his people. But he gets an answer asking him to hold on and wait. Habakkuk 2:3 "For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry."


The common religious response is that God, in his infinite wisdom, knows what is best and that if he does not answer a prayer it is because the request is not part of his plan. However, Christians and non-believers seem to get the same amount of luck, both good and bad, and the same outcomes in recovery from illness or misfortune, whether or not prayers are said.

If there is one situation in which we could most fervently hope that God would answer our prayers it is when undergoing medical treatment for life-threatening disease. Even here, what evidence we have is that God does not answer prayers (*). This being the case, Christians should accept that prayers probably do not get answered, with the possible exception of prayers for forgiveness of sins.

(*) This evidence is provided by a carefully designed double-blind trial of the effect of intercessory prayer on the outcome of surgery, conducted by the John Templeton Foundation in 2005, and reported in ‘Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer (STEP) in Cardiac Bypass Patients – A Multi-Center Randomized Trial of Uncertainty and Certainty of Receiving Intercessory Prayer’. This concluded that intercessory prayer had no beneficial effect on complication-free recovery from the surgery, although not challenging the belief that private or family prayer might be answered in some cases.


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