What To Do When You Have Unanswered Prayers

The following is an excerpt from the devotional, 10 Minutes To Better Living: Daily Applications From the Life of Christ.

Devotional Passage: Luke 1:18-25    

Several years ago the country singer Garth Brooks came out with a song entitled Unanswered Prayers.  The song tells of a grown man realizing that he was thankful that God did not answer the prayers he prayed as a teenager that God would give him a certain girl.  Years later he came to understand that he was far better off without her.  But I can guarantee that the knowledge he had as an adult didn’t keep him from having pain and heartache as a teenager.

You can probably point to times in your life that you have really prayed for something and God just didn’t seem to answer that prayer.  The knowledge that one day you will understand why doesn’t really stop the pain you feel right now.  Today we are going to learn from the life of Zechariah and Elisabeth how we should react when God just doesn’t seem to answer our prayers.

After having heard from the angel that in their old age they were going to have a son, Zechariah questioned what he had just heard.  The angel then told Zechariah that since he did not believe what God was telling him that he would be mute until the time the child was born.    So for the next nine months or so, Zechariah could not speak a word.  However, it soon became obvious that Elisabeth was pregnant.  During these nine months, Zechariah was no doubt frustrated by his inability to speak.  However,  I am sure that he praised God daily for answering the prayer he had thought was going to be unanswered forever.  He was going to have a child.

Life Lessons

I am sure that you can point to sometime in your life that you have prayed for something and God just did not seem to answer it.  We all go through those times and we always will.  Unfortunately, that is part of the everyday Christian life.  We don’t always get what we want.  We don’t always get what we want from our employers, our spouses, or our friends, and we don’t always get what we want from God.  But in today’s reading, we see a family that prayed and prayed and finally got what they wanted. 

Zechariah and Elizabeth had been praying a godly prayer for many years that they would have a child.  There was nothing wrong with that prayer.  It’s probably a better prayer than we pray sometimes about wanting God to give us the new sports car.  But for years their prayer went unanswered.  It was not because God was punishing them or that they were not living right.  The Bible explains that they were very Godly people.  In fact, their lives were so Godly that they are an example to us on how to live our lives, even when we don’t seem to get our prayers answered.

Zechariah and Elizabeth probably prayed for a child for 30 or 40 years with no answer.  But through all this time, they did three things that we should be doing in our prayer life when it seems our prayers go unanswered.  We will look at the first thing today.

1. They stayed faithful to God.  They did not give up on God because He was not answering their prayer.  They continued serving God no matter what He gave or didn’t give them.

2.      The second thing they did during their long wait to hear from God was stay hopefulDespite years of unanswered prayer, they remained hopeful that one day God was going to answer their prayer.  Their prayer probably went something like this, God, You know the desires of our hearts and how we want You to answer our prayer for a child.  But, Lord, I am willing to accept that You might not want to answer that prayer if it means You are going to get more glory out of us remaining childless.  However, we will remain faithful and hopeful that You will grant it to us someday.  If not, give us the grace to accept Your will.  Amen.


3.      The third thing they did was stay busy.  Zechariah and Elisabeth did not sit around moping and pouting during all those years they were not getting the answer to their prayers.  They may not have gotten everything they wanted in life, but they were still doing what they could where they could for God.

Making it Personal

If you are going through a time where you are not getting answers to your prayers, follow the examples of Zechariah and Elisabeth.  Stay faithful to God, stay hopeful in what He might do, and stay busy doing what God wants you to do instead of feeling sorry for yourself.  You never know what God is going to do.  Zechariah and Elisabeth were doing all these things and finally, in God’s time, they saw their prayer answered.  You never know when God is going to grant you your request.  It might be just around the corner.  It might be next week or next month or even next year.  The truth is we don’t know when God’s timing is.  Only He knows.  He wants us to stay faithful, hopeful, and busy while we keep praying.

Is there something you have been praying for that seems to have gone unanswered?  Write a personal prayer to God asking Him again to answer that prayer.

While you go through these times of unanswered prayers, are you staying faithful to God, living for Him, and following His instructions for life?

Have you given up hope that God will answer or are you still remaining hopeful?

Are you staying busy doing what you should be doing and not sitting around doing nothing because God has not yet answered your prayers?  If you are staying busy for God, what are you doing?


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