At least not always. I know we like to let God off the hook by saying “sometimes He says yes and sometimes He says no and sometimes He says not yet”. But how much better is a no or not yet then a non answer? It doesn’t really tell us much. In fact we can’t be sure what it’s telling us. A no can mean many things: no, not now, or no, not like this, or no, you need to change something, or no, this is the wrong way, or no, you don’t understand, or a hundred other things. You have to be omnipotent to know what no means. A non answer is not very comforting and sometimes not very helpful (although I do like the finality of no).
Sure, there are reasons that God does not answer prayer – we pray for our own selfish purposes (James 4:3); we pray without taking care of sin in our lives (Psalm 66:18); we pray but we don’t really believe that God can answer (James 1:5-7); we pray for our own will instead of God’s will (Matthew 5:10). But what about the times when none of these are true and there is still no answer? When you are trying to live for God in the middle of unbearable pain and God is nowhere to be found?
There’s another reason that God does not answer prayer – but it’s difficult for us to accept. God may not answer your prayer to release you from your pain because He wants to use you and your pain for His kingdom. God is building something eternal, something glorious and whatever it is that you are going through, in some inexplicable way, factors into His plan. Your pain is the best way for God to accomplish what He wants to accomplish. I know that doesn’t make the pain any easier to accept, but it does give it value and meaning.
So here’s where we need to bring personal change to the way we pray – when you pray, instead of asking God to remove your pain, ask Him how you can bring glory to Him and build His kingdom through your pain. Offer your pain to Him as your sacrifice of service. Ask Him to show you how your pain can be used to build His Kingdom. Don’t run from your pain – embrace it as an opportunity to be used by God in His glorious Kingdom plan.
What if God could use your pain to bring someone else into the Kingdom? What if the way you faced your pain gave hope to another struggling sinner? What if the unbearable pain of your life could somehow be the source of comfort another needs just to get through their day? Would it be worth it to you to suffer so another life can experience the grace and mercy of God?
There is a wealth of insight in the Apostle Paul’s thoughts in Romans chapter 8:
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us (Vs 18).
Even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we were saved in this hope (Vss 23-24).
Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered (Vs 26).
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose (Vs 28).
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? (Vss 31-32).
Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who love us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Vss 37-39).
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