Prays Together: What If God Doesn’t Answer My Prayer?

I’ve been praying for rain. I hope you all are as well. It goes without saying that we had a bad winter in regards to rainfall. I listen to the news in the morning and I hear more and more about how individual counties across California are getting ready for a water shortage this year. Here is hoping that God will answer with abundant rainfall. But what if He doesn’t give us a miraculous rainfall? What if His answer is “not yet”? Does this mean that my prayers were wasted? Does this mean that I have sins preventing God from answering the way that I want? Does this mean that I do not have faith?

Matthew 21:22 (ESV) says, “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” Often times we can read a verse like this and fall into the trap of thinking there must be something wrong with me! Is the “faith” in my ability to pray? Can I have such a strong faith that it actually forces God to give me exactly what I want? Is faith even about getting God to do what I want? First of all, while passages like Matthew 21:22, do have applications for us today, it is important to remember that individual verses do have a greater context in their meaning. Matthew 21 is more about Jesus’ authority than it is about our ability to pray. Afterall, prayer is supposed to be about trusting God than it is about getting what we want from Him. That leads to my second point.

The Bible is how God speaks to us, and prayer is how we speak to God. Christianity sets itself apart from every major religion and cult because Christianity is about being in relationship with God rather than doing works to achieve blessings and favor from higher authorities (false ones at that). I’m praying to God for rain, because I have faith in Him as a provider. I have faith in His almighty authority. I also have faith in His love for us. How do I know that God loves us? John3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He sent His only Son, that whoever shall believe in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.” Jesus died on the cross for us. Jesus rose again from the dead for us. Jesus is how we know God loves us.

We pray to God not to get Him to do what we want, or to demonstrate our prowess of faith in prayer. We pray to God to be in relationship with Him. Prayer is not about our work to please God. It is an act of trust in God’s Work for us. (That’s same for why we go to worship on Sunday mornings as well.) In John 15, Jesus talks about “abiding in Him.” He said verse 4, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” To abide with Jesus means that we stick with Him through the ups and downs of our lives. In the midst of a pandemic, drought, or recession, I know that my redeemer lives. He is faithful to provide for my spiritual and physical needs. Maybe God is storing up that rain for the next winter. Maybe the rain is coming this month. I will continue to trust in God, and encourage you to the same as well. I’m not going to despair if God doesn’t give me the rainfall that I want, but I’m also going to buy that new umbrella that I have been needing to purchase.

Joel Luckemeyer is pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church. He may be reached by calling 559-592-4070. Prays Together is a rotating faith-based commentary and advice column between the pastors of the First Presbyterian Church of Exeter, Church of Christ of Exeter, Nazarene Church of Exeter, Church of God of Exeter, the New Life Assembly of God and Rocky Hill Community Church as well as the Lemon Cove Presbyterian Church.

This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Sun-Gazette newspaper.

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