In our Untangled feature, we answer questions posed to us from our readers. For today’s post, we received the following from a forum member through the Christian Anime Alliance forums:
Something has been bothering me a lot lately, and that is unanswered prayers. I am told that prayers either go amiss because of sins that are in ones life, but I’ve also been told that prayers do not always produce an answer immediately after praying for whatever the petition may be. I have been dealing with social anxiety which is producing a paranoid nervousness at work around people and I have been going to God about it on a continual nightly bases. The problem is, the problem seems to be more medical and psychological than anything else because despite how much I ask God for deliverance through the Lord, Savior, and Healer, Jesus Christ, I am always faced with the issue the next day, as if my prayer was in vain. I want to believe in God for deliverance, and yes, I want to acknowledge that some things are best dealt with through time and perseverance, but is there any reason in specific as to why Heaven seems to be silent concerning some prayer requests?
Thanks for question! I know this is a personal topic, but I’m glad you shared, because there are a lot of folks that are dealing with similar struggles. I hope they’re encouraged and helped by this response.
The question of why God is silent is one with which that men and women have long struggled. Theologians, philosophers, and even writers like Shusaku Endo (whose classic novel, Silence, is being brought to the big screen by Martin Scorsese) have tackled the topic. Indeed, we can go back even further, looking to the psalmists and prophets as they questioned God:
Your eyes are too pure to look on evil;
you cannot tolerate wrongdoing.
Why then do you tolerate the treacherous?
Why are you silent while the wicked
swallow up those more righteous than themselves?
– Habakkuk 1:13
To me, the answer lies largely in comprehending how big our God is. We know much about God – what He has revealed to us, such as his intolerance for evil (as Habakkuk states) and, more along the lines of discussion in your question, his love for the prayers of the righteous. But there’s so much about the mighty God that we don’t know, including the exact plans He has for our lives. We go to God with our petitions and with sincerity as we beg for mercy and healing, but often when we expect a certain response from Him, we become like Peter when he admonished Christ, putting our plans ahead of His. And again, like Peter, we may just not comprehend or know what those plans are.
A maxim we often hear is that God responds to us in one of three ways: yes, no, or wait. That may be true, but perhaps a better way of thinking is this, that when we petition God, we should be like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and expect in this way: “I hope that you’ll deliver me, but even if you don’t, I will still praise you.” When our hearts bend in that manner, we give Him worship, and I think in some way we’re also better able to endure and grow through hardships, knowing that no matter what, God has our backs.
If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.
I hope that you’ll receive healing from your condition (and by the way, I hope you’re receiving or are at least considering getting medical attention). But in the trial and pain, we can be thankful even for the hurt, because He always has our ultimate good in mind, even His response is wait or no.