A few years back I heard a most insightful country song with that same title and I’ve often thought about it. I think Garth Brooks composed it, but someone will set me straight if I’m wrong on that. But the point is – it makes some great points in the song.
What do I mean – thank God for unanswered prayers? It could be a lot of things. Maybe like in the song, years ago, maybe it was a certain person you wished and hoped – and prayed – you would be able to marry, but it never worked out that way. Now years later, you realize how blessed you are to NOT have had that prayer answered the way you sure wanted it at the time.
Have you ever found yourself asking God to please see things your way and that you hope something you want will also be his will to let you have that something? We so often pray to try to get God to see things OUR way. We even ask others to pray that the will of God shall be what we want. Maybe it’s a prayer why we need a certain person to be our spouse, or a certain job we think he should give us. And then we get exasperated when his will apparently is not what we hoped for -- and so we exclaim ‘I just don’t understand him! If I had all that power, I sure would have granted this simple request.”
But that’s all backward.
We should not be praying that’s God will would line up with OUR heart’s desires. Father sees things so much clearer and better than you or I ever could. Our prayers should be more like, “please show me what YOU want to do in my life and help me get in line with YOUR will, cheerfully and thankfully, knowing you are Being of such great love”.
I’m writing this because now that I’m 60, maybe I’m starting to begin to slightly understand this. At least until the next time I have a bright idea that I haven’t first run by HIS will. It’s a tough lesson to learn, but learn it we must.
So many times, in fact, our Father’s answer is not “no” – but “wait a minute. I have something better for you.” And sometimes his answer is “not now, not yet”. And sometimes, like with Abraham, the wait can be a long time. Sometimes the promises will be clearly seen in the resurrection and we just aren’t geared to waiting that long. Reminds me of the verse that basically tells us “these ALL died, NOT having received the promises…” (Hebrews 11:13, 39). Not yet. But they will. Abraham never got to see his children be as numerous as the visible stars of heaven, but he will!
Look what problems Abraham, the father of the faithful, caused when he decided, for example, to help God along with his promise that Abraham and Sarah would have a son. It was taking too long, so what did Abraham do? He and Sarah conspired to produce an heir by his works with another woman – Hagar-- rather than by faith. Remember Hagar and Ishmael? How well did that work out? And the problems continue to this very day.
But like Abraham, we start thinking “time is running out for anything else to work. I guess God wants ME to work this out.” And away we go, no longer walking hand in hand with our Maker.
We’ve all done the same thing, over and over. MY works - - and their results – have not had good results. But when I rest in God’s promises and live by faith, I’m astounded at what HE works out when I rest in his promises and keep an awareness of how much he loves you and me beyond our wildest dreams.
So let’s start thanking Abba above, our God Most High, and our Savior Jesus Christ – for all the UNANSWERED prayers as well as the ones where He let us have what we were asking for. Let’s even thank Him for the times that appear like rough times, bad times, or even hellish times of our life – as these may be the very times he is getting our attention. These are times when he is most actively working with us -- refining us, changing us and purifying us.
In fact, we truly can even be joyful in these difficult times if we look up and tell him we trust him, we love him and we know he’s working his plan . . . even when we have no idea HOW he’s going to work it all out.
We don’t NEED to know HOW everything will work out. We need only to know with WHOM we walk. And that is enough.
Midway through the song, the words go something like this:
“…just because he doesn’t answer doesn’t mean he don’t care
Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.”
So praise Him and his holy name even for unanswered prayers.