What about when God doesn’t answer my prayers?
What about my wayward child who hasn’t come back?
What about the bully who isn’t stopping?
What about the learning disability that isn’t improving?
What about the child who is in heaven that I prayed would be healed?
Brooke McGlothlin dives deep into these questions in her book Praying Mom (in case you don’t have a copy yet (wink!). But today, I want to reassure you that your questions haven’t gone unheard. God hears your wounded heart, and He cares about every tear you’ve cried.
In Psalm 56:8 David writes, “You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?” (ESV). If He cares so much for us, then why does it FEEL like he doesn’t hear us?
As I’ve prayed for my kids and our family over the years, I’ve seen three patterns emerge in the answers I’ve had from God.
LORD COME QUICKLY (Psalm 22:19)
Some prayers God has answered quickly. Prayers for good teachers who see my boys and value them for who they are have been answered year after year. I am incredibly grateful since I am well aware that is not always the case. When God answers quickly, I find I praise Him at the moment, but as the year goes on my heart is quick to forget.
I WILL WAIT (Habakkuk 2:1)
For other prayers, we wait on answers for weeks, months, or years. When I first began praying for my son to have good friends, it was in the year 2017. God didn’t answer that prayer until almost five years later! While I prayed, the situation with my son at school actually got worse! Instead of not having closer friends, a bully began to torment him on and off for a year and a half. Finally, when it was apparent my son couldn’t handle the situation on his own, I spoke to the school and it was resolved. Yet I still waited and prayed for good friends. Finally, in 5th grade, he found his people. He now has several good friends through school, church, and band. I’m so thankful for these friendships! Since it took longer for this prayer to be answered, I continue to praise God for His provision whenever I see my son and these friends together.
MY GRACE IS SUFFICIENT (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Another prayer I’ve prayed for 20 years. Yes, twenty! Finally, I felt God reassure me that He would carry me through this circumstance and give me peace, but He would not deliver me from it. Though this answer is frustrating and at times heartbreaking, God has given me peace. More than any other answer He’s given me, this answer has caused me to lean into God and depend on His strength daily. I am thankful minute by minute for His presence and guidance.
Yes, we all wish God would answer our prayers immediately, but as I’ve prayed, I’ve found those are often the ones I forget the quickest. Like a child who gets dessert every night after supper, I think I’m entitled to the “yes” instead of thankful for it. It’s times when God makes me wait or flat out says “no” that I’m forced to learn to depend on the blesser instead of the blessings when I become thankful for the relationship and learn to lean into Him daily. Yes, those answers are hard. However, it teaches me to learn to depend on what God says is true instead of what I feel. It teaches me that He is present minute by minute and giving himself really is the best yes!The mother of three active boys, Tara L. Cole teaches communication at Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology. Tara is passionate about helping moms and their kids deepen their relationships with Jesus. She’s the author of Everyday Prayers for the School Year, and her podcast, Over A Cup, helps women connect with Jesus throughout their day. Learn more about her at www.taralcole.com. Connect with her on IG!