Fearing Unanswered Prayers

Yesterday was a great day. Nothing off-the-charts spectacular happened. I simply walked through a stream of reminders that God answers even unspoken prayers. Little surprises here and there, directly speaking to my heart.

Garth Brooks sang a song called “Unanswered Prayers,” in which he thanked God for not giving him what he begged for. It was a nod to God’s infinite wisdom and an acceptance that, with our limited vision and knowledge, we don’t always know what we really want or what’s truly best for us. It’s a great perspective, one I struggle to possess.

Unanswered prayers scare me.

Because our faith revolves around a relationship and not liturgy, it’s rarely formulaic. I can pray all I want in the “right” ways and never be assured that I’ll get what I want. God knows best; I know this. But also knowing that I can’t read His mind and that what I desperately want may not be part of His plan sometimes leaves me cynical. Even superstitious. Fearing God’s answers to my heartfelt desires, I fail to pray. No. I don’t fail to pray; I refuse to pray. I think that if I don’t confess what I really, really want that maybe, possibly, He’ll come to that conclusion on His own.

Yes, I fully recognize the ridiculous logic and flawed theology employed there. I am always a ridiculously, flawed person, and sometimes it’s painfully obvious.

The beauty of a day like yesterday is that God blows all my ridiculously, flawed thinking right out of the water. He obliterates it! He reminds me that my silly little head games don’t phase Him nor thwart His plans. He is good. His plans are good. He wants to grant me the desires of my heart and I need not fear confessing them to Him.

Take delight in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart. — Psalm 37:4 (NIV)

Too often we misinterpret that verse into a candy and toy store. God is not Santa Claus who gives us whatever we want in trade for milk and cookies. He is a loving Father who delights in pouring good things on us. He gives lavishly for our pleasure! Loving parents, however, do not grant their children’s every whim.

My kids believe unlimited Wii time coupled with pizza and ice cream would be Heaven! I recognize that doing schoolwork, cleaning their rooms and eating vegetables is better for them. That doesn’t mean we never have the other or that I don’t give to them generously. I just love them to much to allow slothfulness, rotted teeth and poor health.

God is the same toward us. He wants to give us the desires of our hearts, but He also wants our hearts to align with His. See Psalm 40:8 and Isaiah 26:8. It’s not just about getting what we want; it’s about wanting the right things.

My warped thinking described above is a defense mechanism, really. If I don’t pray my heart, then my desires can’t go unanswered. I can’t be rejected because I didn’t really ask for it and, thereby, I protect myself from pain and disappointment. Right? Well, no. Not right at all!

Even if I am “surprised” by direct answers to unspoken requests, I miss the joy of sharing my heart with my God. He invites me to share all of myself with Him. Instead, I stifle our relationship by hoarding my thoughts and dreams, all of which reveals my distrust.

I want to trust Him more.

I am thankful that He hears even my unspoken, tightly guarded dreams, but I want to share this journey with Him. I want to participate with Him in what He is doing. Simply being surprised that He cares isn’t enough. I want to live the knowledge of it.

Your Turn: Think of a time when God answered your unspoken prayers. Or maybe a time when you were thankful He answered prayers differently than you expected. Tell me about it!

 

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