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Inspiration & Encouragement

Lessons From Unanswered Prayers

Lessons from unanswered prayers

I recently came across a very thought-provoking question on social media. The question was, “what is one thing that you learned that you would not have, had God answered that prayer?”

Now that I’ve had time to process and organize my thoughts, I can describe the question as I did above as ‘thought-provoking’ but at the time I came across it all I could think was, “mind=blown;” queue the head exploding emoji. It really got me thinking about my unanswered prayers and the lessons that I could glean from them. Have you ever felt like God isn’t answering your prayers? I have, and let me tell you, this can feel quite discouraging for a believer.

When it comes to unanswered prayers many Christians will say that maybe you don’t have enough faith, or you’re not praying enough, or you’re praying with bad intentions or have hidden sins. This may all be true but we have to be careful not to misrepresent God’s character. To be clear, not all unanswered prayers are because you’re doing something wrong. In fact, there are lessons that we can learn from unanswered prayers. So even if you’re not getting what you’ve asked for there is still something to gain.

God’s Grace Is Enough

In 2 Corinthians 12:7-9, Paul spoke about a ‘thorn in [his] flesh’ that he prayed about repeatedly. God’s response to Paul was, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Sometimes we pray and ask God to change our situations when what he wants is for us to depend on Him for strength to get through it. There are some situations that we will have to endure by the grace of God because it may serve a purpose greater than we are able to understand while going through it (1 Peter 4:12-13). I feel the need to insert here that not everything we go through is necessarily part of God’s plan; some of it may be as a result of bad decisions. This brings me to my next point about unanswered prayers, which is that our prayers may not align with God’s will.

Surrendering Our Will To His

When our prayers are outside of God’s will, we may end up disappointed, discouraged and feeling like God is ignoring us.

“Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”

Ephesians 5:17

One of the goals of prayer is to surrender our will to God’s will. This means that oftentimes we have to let go of ideas and plans that we have for ourselves in favour of God’s plan. Admittedly, this can be hard but remember, whatever plans we have for ourselves pales in comparison to the plans that God has for us. Not only does he have better plans for us but he invites us to ask anything according to his will (1 John 5:14-15) and it will be done.  

In Philippians 4:6 Paul exhorts us not to be anxious about anything but to submit our request to God through prayer and thanksgiving. This may be a challenge for many, myself included, who struggle with wanting to ask with unwavering faith but at the same time are unsure about what God wants. 

How can we know the will of God concerning us?

We can start by asking for guidance and discernment through prayer, listening and paying attention to the leading of the Holy Spirit (John 14:26), testing the spirits (1 John 4:1-6), reading the word (Psalm 119:105) and seeking God’s peace (Philippians 4:7). These are some of the way through which God’s will is revealed to us.

For Our Good

“No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.”

Psalm 84:11

God may not answer our prayers when what we’re praying for isn’t good for us. Even though not having our prayers answered can feel discouraging, sometimes it’s His way of protecting us from greater disappointment and heartache down the road or to deter us from falling into sin. “Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh.” 2 Corinthians 12:7. God didn’t answer Paul’s prayer by removing the ‘thorn’ because the thorn was to prevent him from sinning. 

I’m grateful that God hasn’t given me everything I’ve ever asked for because I’ve definitely asked for the wrong things before. Thankfully, he knows me better than I know myself and knows exactly what I need and when I need it. 


Timing is everything and God’s timing is perfect. Waiting can be hard but we have to trust in His timing and not take matters into our own hands. 

I’ve been grappling with a decision and I recently decided to confide in a friend. After I finished explaining to her, she said to me “what I hear you saying is, ‘I feel’ but what does God say about it? Have you prayed and asked him?” Then she reminded me of Proverbs 3:5. I realized that though I was praying to God about the situation, I was leaning on my own understanding and trusting in my own ways by wanting God to work on my time instead of the other way around. That timely reminder from my friend led me to what I should have been doing in the first place, prayerfully seeking God’s will and guidance and waiting for Him. 

Finally, beloved, there are many lessons we can learn from unanswered prayers, so don’t be discouraged. You may not get what you ask for but you can certainly get what you need. Another goal of prayer is connection. The reason we pray is primarily to connect with God. Therefore, even if we don’t get exactly what we pray for, there is always the opportunity for us to grow in faith, have a change of perspective or get to know God on a deeper level. Either way, prayer is a win-win situation because there is always something to gain. I firmly believe that genuine, fervent prayers always change things; if not the situation, then you.




  • Lori


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