When God doesn’t answer

Saturday, March 17, 2012 § Leave a comment

I wouldn’t ask if you ever prayed for something—and prayed for it real hard—and nothing happened, because I pretty much know what you’d say. We all have unanswered prayers, don’t we? And let’s be honest, we don’t welcome unanswered prayers with loud rejoicing and colorful banners and merrymaking. We welcome them with griping and questioning and some more griping.

I find those reactions quite natural, though, because really, how would we reconcile the existence of unanswered prayers with the biblical truth that God hears and answers prayers?

But unanswered prayers do happen. In fact, the Bible explicitly warns us that God won’t answer our prayers if we have:

  • unrepented sins (Isaiah 59:1-2),
  • selfish motives (James 4:3),
  • unbelief (James 1:5-7),
  • unforgiveness (Mark 11:25),
  • unresolved marital conflicts (1 Peter 3:7).

Aware of this truth, many of us make sure all these hindrances have been addressed when we meet with God. And when we think there are no longer roadblocks between our prayers and Him, we get confident we will get answers. But realistically, there are times that simply we won’t have them.

Sometimes He doesn’t give what we pray for.

Sometimes He even chooses not to respond.

Sometimes He chooses to just be silent.

And this we have a hard time accepting because it goes against what we know of as praying. Sadly, we’ve reduced praying to asking things from God and getting them—immediately.

(Photo from All Women Are Beautiful)

What we sometimes don’t realize is that meeting our prayers is not the only way God answers. Many times, even His silence—His seeming inaction and purposeful delays included—is an answer in itself.

Because it is during His silence that we learn to cling more to God, to grow more familiar with His principles and leadings, to wrestle with Him until finally we understand what sovereignty means. It is at this moment that He shapes our desires according to His desires so that we can fully see the wisdom in surrendering to His will.

Because in the midst of non-answers, He certainly can assure us that even if things unravel at the seams and yes, even if He remains silent when we ask from Him, He doesn’t turn a deaf ear. He hears. He sees the big picture, and so He knows  just the right answer to every one of our prayers.

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He loves me, yes I know

Friday, March 2, 2012 § Leave a comment

I’ve been asking God a lot of things lately — things that deeply concern me. Finally, he answered. During my quiet time yesterday, He led me to Psalms 32, 33, and 86, where His love was described as unfailing and abounding. God was clearly comforting me with the knowledge of His love; it’s as if He was saying, “I love you. My love is enough. Because you know I love you, you can rest. You can rest in my love.”

This is what I imagine our conversations have looked like:

Me: Lord, I want this.

God: I love you.

Me: Lord, I want to go to this.

God: I love you.

Me: Lord, I’m afraid. Please direct my steps.

God: I love you.

Me: Lord, can you hear me?

God: I love you.

Isn’t that sweet? God obviously matches my concerns with His love. He wants me to focus not on my situation but to look instead on the magnitude of His affection. I’ve been a Christian long enough that His love for me has sort of become a platitude, a very familiar concept. So God now is reminding me by refreshing my attitude toward His love. He wants me to digest it like a sumptuous meal I’ve never tasted before.

Yes, I have needs. Yes, I have desires. But God’s love is enough to cover all those and more. And this makes me realize that knowing His love is far more important than pursuing other things. Because I know He loves me,  I can sit back and trust with renewed vigor.

Now, isn’t God’s love the greatest and most comforting answer to my pleas? I know it is, because it’s that one thing that can truly and sufficiently sustain me. It’s what I really need and, in my heart of hearts, desire.

A Seven-Day Faith Journey: Days 3 to 6

Wednesday, January 11, 2012 § Leave a comment

The days are going pretty fast. You’ve met me at different points in this journey, and I know you will continue to do so even after it comes to a close.

During these four days — especially last night — you’ve allowed me to view my life in light of your will. It humbles me to think that you have woven me into your plans and are already preparing me for the works ever so subtly. So willingly, I set myself apart for your purpose. It’s you I will pursue.

This old hymn is the very cry of my heart. Please take my life — everything of me — and let it be used however you want to.

Take My Life and Let It Be
(Frances R. Havergal)

Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days; let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands, and let them move at the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet, and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee.

Take my voice, and let me sing always, only, for my King.
Take my lips, and let them be filled with messages from Thee.
Take my silver and my gold; not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect, and use every power as Thou shalt choose.

Take my will, and make it Thine; it shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own; it shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love, my Lord, I pour at Thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself, and I will be ever, only, all for Thee.

 

A Seven-Day Faith Journey: Day 2

Saturday, January 7, 2012 § Leave a comment

A slew of things are begging to come out, wanting to get written here. But they would take a lot of space, not to mention a lot of time to organize them into coherent thoughts.

So I’ll make this brief.

Remember I said I was going to live by faith not by sight? I’m sure you heard me. I’m sure you saw my heart. That my heart was sincere.

So you gave me this song. It just popped into my head. I was thinking if it was a case of LSS (Last Song Syndrome), but this couldn’t be LSS because I haven’t heard this song for a while.

Nor could this be just a random song. I believe you purposely put it in my heart, and before I knew it, I was singing it. Not long after, I found myself looking for a video to sing along with.

Thank you, because through this song you’re reminding me that you’re indeed working. Although I “don’t know just how,” you’re putting things in place. You’re in control after all, and what you’re doing is more important than what I’m feeling or seeing (or unable to see).

This song tells me to trust you, giving me more hope in this seven-day faith journey, where I’m crying out to you all that my heart desires. And even after the journey, I’m feeling it’ll continue to speak to me — as an anthem of my waiting years.

Oh, how my soul sings!

A Seven-Day Faith Journey: Day 1

Friday, January 6, 2012 § Leave a comment

I’m going through this not because almost everyone at my church is doing it. No. I have to remind myself over and over that I want to do this journey because I’d like to get intimate with you again, to meet you on a different level. I know for sure how this will help put some order in my life; I know because this journey has done it before.

I am perfectly aware what this will require of me. Even though I’ve done this several times over the years, I still got anxious when I thought about it a few days ago. Honestly.

This is no easy journey; it would make me physically weak. And true enough, I’m beginning to get weak. My stomach is growling, only stopping when I care to give in to its need. I feel my head getting heavy, my muscles trembling. I sense the call of my bed, the call you can’t ignore when you feel like resting, comfortably, undisturbed, blind to the world.

But I will continue on. I want us to talk, to meet you intimately. So I’m choosing to veer away from what will take my eyes off you.

I’ve longed for this. You and I alone.

You. And. I.

Without distractions.

But even though I’ve wanted us to talk, I wonder if there are things left to talk about.

You’ve heard possibly every thing I wanted to tell you. Just this morning, I’ve verbalized every need, every concern.  What else should I say? Are words even necessary? You know what my heart contains anyway. You can read right through it. Even the things I am not aware of, you know very well.

But maybe we don’t even have to talk. Maybe all we need is to look in each other’s eyes and let our hearts do the talking. Maybe all we need to do is to just enjoy each other’s company.

It benefits me more than it benefits you, I know. No, no. It benefits me, period. You can do without me, but I can’t do without you.

Your presence is what I need. Just your presence. It is where I want to stay. Indeed, it is one of my goals for this journey. I can be with thousands of people, be in thousands of places, but it’s still your presence that gives me lasting peace, perfect hope, and complete joy.

So I ask you to let me stay in your dwelling place, where I can be infinitely in your presence. In your presence, words are sometimes unnecessary. Even in the absence of language, you can meet me and I can meet you. Here, just the two of us—you filling me up, I basking in your love. Certainly, this is what this journey is about.

Prayer of a single woman

Tuesday, October 18, 2011 § 5 Comments

Dear God,

I thank you for this precious season of singleness. Today, as I did before, I offer my single years unto you. Please use my singleness in the way you want to, and let it bring honor to your name.

I know I was put in this season at this exact period for a reason, and although I can’t always wrap my mind around that reason, I am confident that I am living under your will. More than anything else, Lord, I want to do your will, so let me see this period as a wonderful opportunity to serve you with undivided attention.

Please give me more strength so that I can accomplish the work you have for me, and give me more wisdom so that I can make decisions with lasting significance. Lord, I want to live this singleness as meaningfully as I can. This is the desire of my heart.

My journey as a single woman, you know, Lord, is not always rosy. There are times when the pangs of loneliness unmercifully hit me, so I ask you to wrap your hands around my shoulders.  Please comfort me with your embrace and let me feel the warmth of your love. Cover my heart so that no lies can invade it. Always, God, remind me that I am not abandoned, that you are my comforter and lover, and that you uphold me with your righteous right hand.

When I try to source out my joy from other people, material things, or experiences, please whisper in my heart that you are that, Lord. My joy.  I require no one or nothing else to make me feel complete. I am already complete in you. Show me how to truly appreciate this season when I seem to forget you designed it and especially when I become emotionally vulnerable.

When I feel insecure, which always happens, may you remind me that my security lies in you. My possessions in you can’t be measured by earthly standards, and my value is not from this world. When I question who I am, let me ponder my identity as your daughter — precious and forever loved. And always remind me that you, my Father, delight in me.

God, let your love for me be the overarching theme of my life, and allow me to express my love for you in the best ways that I am capable of. Let me fall more deeply in love with you. So deeply that my whole being sinks and fails to recover. Please fill every need, every longing, every hole.

When temptations to compromise are so strong, please, Father, allow me not to give in. Remind me of my vow of purity. Hold me and make me firm. Instill in me indestructible faithfulness so that I can continue to stay pure in my actions, thoughts, and words. Father, please take captive of my mind and heart today in my singleness and for the rest of my earthly existence.

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May you surround me with good friends with whom I can share and from whom I can experience more of your warmth and love. Help me make more meaningful friendships, for it is your desire for me to intertwine my life with others.

And, Father, as I wait for my love story to unfold, guard my heart with towering walls, so no one, except the man you made for me, can enter it. Lock my heart into yours. It is the only place where it is secure. Don’t let my heart escape and wander down the winding and dark road of expectations. I want it to be clean. I want to reserve a part of my heart for my man, who I know will come at your appointed time.

But, Father, as I wait, allow me not to be distracted by my desire for a love story. I want you to still be my focus, the center of my existence. Help me keep my eyes on you, Father, and please silence my heart when uncertainties come my way.

God, I recommit my life to you today. Do whatever you please with my life, for you own it. Thank you for your presence, unending love, and overflowing grace. Thank you for this season, for it reveals more of you in a way that only singleness can. From this season, I will gather plenty of lessons and stories that I will soon bring into the next season of my life.

May your name be glorified in this season, and may you give me the steadfastness of spirit as I watch your plan take place. Amen.

 

Image Credit: SXC

 

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