Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7

05 April 2012

The problem of unanswered prayer

Sometimes when praying, especially with prayers said repeatedly over the long haul, it can be easy to wonder, "Why isn't God answering this prayer?"

Here's a wonderful quote from Knowing God by JI Packer about looking for the ways in which God may in fact be answering such prayers.

Not, indeed, that our Father in heaven always answers his children's prayers in the form in which we offer them.  Sometimes we ask for the wrong thing!  It is God's prerogative to give good things, things we have need of, and if in our unwisdom we ask for things that do not come under these headings God, like any good parent, reserves the right to say, "No, not that; it wouldn't good for you - but have this instead."  Good parents never simply ignore what their children are saying, nor simply disregard their feelings of need, and neither does God; but often he gives us what we should have asked for, rather than what we actually requested.  Paul asked the Lord Jesus graciously to remove his thorn in the flesh, and the Lord replied by graciously leaving it and strengthening Paul to live with it (2Corinthians 12:7 ff.)  The Lord knew best! - and to suggest that because Paul's prayer was answered this way it was not answered at all would be utterly wrong.  Here is a source of much light on what is sometimes called "the problem of unanswered prayer."

From Knowing God by JI Packer chapter nineteen, page 239. Emphasis mine.

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