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God Doesn't Answer My Prayers

By Luke Lancaster

People ask for things all the time from God and seemingly nothing will happen. Somebody might pray to get a job he interviewed for and not get it. Why would he not get it when Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8)? Why is there a contradiction between the words of Jesus and real life? In answer to this, I think Jesus intended three things that we tend to miss in Matt. 7: people need to ask with true faith, they need to be persistent in their prayers, and they need to remember that God answers prayers in His own ways sometimes.

A big question depends on the person – what kind of faith and intensity is does he have? As Pope Francis said, “Miracles happen. But they need prayer! A courageous prayer, that struggles for that miracle. Not like those prayers of courtesy: Ah, I will pray for you!” (L’Osservatore Romano). People must ask with confidence in God’s power; seek with belief; and knock with conviction. If somebody prays to God with only a speck of faith, then there is only a speck of a chance that God will answer. Trust that God will even move mountains if we ask with conviction (Matt. 21:21).

Sometimes Jesus will test people, only answering their prayers if they are persistent in them. For example, in Luke 18, Jesus gave an analogy of a widow who incessantly begged a judge to give her justice against her adversary. The judge did not agree for a while, but after a while, he said to himself, “because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming” (Lk. 18:5). Jesus’s point was that unrighteous judges will eventually answer persistent requests, so how much more so will our righteous God? So, people have to persist in prayer to receive what they asked for. God might just be testing us to see if we will still trust in Him.

Finally, Christians must keep in mind what St. Padre Pio said, “God always answers our prayers, but he did not say how or when.” Sometimes God answers prayers in different ways than we intended. For example, I asked God to heal my shoulder from tendonitis after a baseball injury, but God dismissed my request. He foresaw the tremendous good that would come out of my injury, and I did not. When God did not heal my shoulder, I ended up getting into my faith, I stopped pursuing a baseball career, and have now helped others in ways that I never would have had I not been injured. I’m now glad in hindsight that God did not answer my prayer in exactly the way I asked. Maybe instead of answering my prayer the way I wanted it to be answered, He answered my prayer in a way I was unaware of.

Jesus promised that He would grant what we asked for, sought for, and knocked for, and He was right. He will answer our prayers. But we need to make sure that we have faith, that we are persistent, and that we ultimately only want what God wants. God can see the future, whereas we cannot. If He sees something better coming out of the current state, instead of granting our requests, then we need to trust that He knows what is best. He is a good God who gives good gifts to His children (Matt. 7:11).

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