God really disappoints me sometimes.
There have been so many times that I desperately needed something. I asked God wholeheartedly to help me. I waited patiently for him to answer.
But then He never came through.
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See some of these examples.
The Georgetown University Prayer
I shared in my book, Story Story, that I attended college on a very generous academic scholarship.
What I didn’t mention, however, was that I always felt that I could do better.
I felt that I could have gotten the same scholarship at bigger school in a bigger city with a bigger course selection.
So I applied to Georgetown University.
My intention was to transfer there in my sophomore year.
I prayed with everything in me that
- I would get into Georgetown and
- I would get a full academic scholarship.
Well, I did get into Georgetown.
However, I they offered me exactly $0 in scholarship money.
What made it really painful was the reason behind not getting a scholarship.
I was not eligible for scholarship money because I was not a US citizen or permanent resident.
At face value, this might not seem like a big deal.
But I have to say that this unanswered prayer crushed my spirit in ways that I struggle to describe.
It’s always tough to feel rejected for who you are – not really anything you’ve done.
I knew there was a chance that my status as a foreign student would prevent me from getting a scholarship.
However, I believed that if I prayed hard enough, God would work a miracle in my favor.
The Recession Prayer
I took a risk during the last recession.
I decided to clear out my bank account and use the money to go on a trip to London.
Well, long story short, the same day I arrived in London, I found out that I’d been fired from my job back in the States.
I won’t go into too much detail here because I tell the full story my book. Story Story.
I will say, however, I prayed, trusted, and had faith.
Doesn’t the Bible say that: “A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you”?
Well, it came near me.
I was not protected from the recession despite my prayers.
The Ticket Prayer
When I was little, I got the idea into my head that it would be fun to travel to London for a summer.
I asked my parents for money to go.
They said no.
So I decided to ask the richest guy I’d heard of…Jesus.
After all, doesn’t the whole world belong to him and all that jazz?
Well, you can find the full story here.
The short version is: I prayed day and night for three months straight.
So What Do You Do When God Doesn’t Answer Your Prayers?
It can be very painful to keep asking God for things when he doesn’t seem to answer.
That’s why I wanted to share what I’ve learned on this topic.
Here’s what I suggest.
1. Reflect on the outcome of the unanswered prayer
When you don’t get what you want, take a minute to reflect on what you actually got instead.
I didn’t get to attend Georgetown University but I got something else.
The summer I would have moved to Georgetown, I ended up going camping with a few friends in Michigan.
It was during that camping trip that I met Kade.
And if you’ve read my book, you know why that “chance” meeting was so significant in my life.
It took me many years to be able to look back and appreciate how things actually worked out.
Nevertheless, when you pray and God doesn’t answer, It’s important to believe that one day, you will look back and it will make sense.
2. Don’t make it about love
It’s easy to feel God’s love when he gives us what we want.
Similarly, it’s easy to feel unloved by God when he doesn’t give us what we want.
Be careful of this.
God has already proven his love for us with ultimate finality.
So when you pray, and God doesn’t answer, be careful of thoughts that would suggest that it’s because he doesn’t love you.
There are 1 million reasons why a prayer might go unanswered; but love is probably not one of those reasons.
3. Pray for trust
Lastly, and most importantly, pray for the ability to trust.
It’s ironic that prayer is one of the keys to dealing with unanswered prayer; but it’s true.
You will always have power as long as you don’t lose your trust (or faith) that everything is working out as it should.
Not as you imagined…but as it should.
Don’t try to will yourself into trusting.
Don’t try to convince yourself to keep trusting.
Just pray for God’s help to enable you trust Him and His way of doing things.
I’ve seen the difference in my life and I cannot recommend this highly enough.
Final thoughts regarding unanswered prayer
There is a difference between disappointment and failure.
What I’ve learned is that God may disappoint me over and over again; but He has never failed me.
He has never failed me in the sense that, given enough time, everything makes sense in hindsight.
So if nothing else, I hope you take this last statement to heart.
Given enough time, everything makes sense in hindsight.
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