Why won't God answer my prayer?

Why won't God answer my prayer? It was a simple, easy prayer for Him to be able to answer. My sister and I prayed that it would snow for Christmas. We have never experienced a white Christmas. It is really hard to keep praying when I think He is not listening or does not care about me.

Thank you as well for sharing your experience this Christmas in praying for snow. I appreciate your honesty on the frustration and disappointment you have experienced. I'm sure your sister feels disappointed as well. I just read a commentary on a famous writer's struggle with very similar issues. His name is CS Lewis and a very deep, theological and philosophical book he wrote is called, "The Problem with Pain". One of the issues he deals with is, "Why doesn't God seem to answer many of our prayers?" He was not only referring to our prayers for other's health and well-being, but also for other things, like snow on Christmas. So, you're not alone. Even some heavy (and Lewis is very intellectual), deep theological thinkers has wrestled with similar questions.

One thing that struck me from Lewis' analysis on "the problem of pain" in our world is that our prayer may not be the best for the world at large. Although it may seem best for us in the moment, we do not have God's sight or wisdom to know what is truly best overall. For example, what if a huge family in the greater St. Louis area prayed hard that no snow would fall around Christmas because a parent was dying who wanted to see his children before he died. As wonderful as it would have been for you and your sister to experience snow, wouldn't you be happier knowing this man could die in peace, maybe apologizing to his kids or saying, "I love you" for the first time. When we pray for such things as snow on Christmas, we need to keep in mind that getting what we want may not be for the greater good of all people.

My good friend, Paula, told me, two years out of college, that she told God she was ready to get married and God brought her a man a couple months later. They married. Wow - pretty cool, huh? Well, I was patient and I didn't ask God for a husband, even though I REALLY wanted one. Then, around 25 or 26-years-old, I started asking God all the time to give me a husband. And, before long he did lead me to a wonderful man of faith named John. I fell for John and he said he thought he was falling in love with me. But, after months of being "close" friends, he boldly told me we could never be a couple. How could this be?!? I prayed for John and thought God gave him to me. I didn't understand. Did my prayers matter at all? I was in a LOT of pain through this. But, I knew deep down, even though I didn't understand it, I knew that God doesn't give us what we want, but what we need. I REALLY wanted John. But, John was not the man for me. I spent the next several years continuing to pray, some might say in vain, for a husband or a vocational call. Nothing came - for months at a time; just peace knowing that God loved me and was with me through it all.

Looking back, I now see that John wasn't nearly as amazing for me as my husband Michael. And, Michael wasn't ready for a wife back when I was ready - he's younger than me; he was still going through schooling and taking care of his dying sister. Also, God needed me to do more work in chastity education. I wrote a second book that is very needed (a teacher's guide on chastity) that I never would have written if I was married - I'm not that good at multi-tasking. And, if I married early, I said I wanted 10 kids or so, but God might know that I can't handle 10 kids - I have the worst memory known to man. I'd probably forget my own kids from time to time! John ended up getting married this past fall to a lovely woman. So, it ended up working out for the best overall.

Rarely in life do you get hindsight like I now have with the husband situation. There are things I've been through or seen that have no current explanation. However, if my prayers aren't answered as I expected from now on, I just continue to trust that it's better for people or the world overall. One of my favorite songs is called, "Higher Ways". I attached the lyrics below because it helps me through all the times we don't get hindsight - we don't understand why something like snow on Christmas would be so difficult for God. And, if I have to suffer through hard times which offer little to no explanation, I think of Jesus on the cross. He turned the biggest atrocity ever - people torturing and killing their Maker, the one who loves us more than anyone - into something good, the best good ever...salvation, everlasting life.

Michael lost both his nephew and sister to cancer, after years of praying that they would be healed and survive. Many of his family members did the same. Unfortunately, some of his family members lost faith when their prayers were not answered with a full and complete recovery - what they wanted. Michael, on the other hand, continued to pray for peace and comfort through it all, knowing that the good of Heaven came for his nephew and sister, and other good things could still be yet to come. He always prayed for God's will to be done and knew that good could come out of anything, even what seems to be the worst evils in the world. Michael now continues to pray on a daily basis. He asks Gods for things because he knows that God listens, but he is always willing to accept whatever God's answer might be...yes, no or not right now. Michael inspires me everyday with his strong faith. 

Consider, when you pray, saying to God at the end of your request, "if it's your will." I don't say it all the time because I know it in my heart. But, when I'm really struggling or questioning, I say it aloud. It reminds me that His Will is so much more important than my 30-year-old, St. Louis-oriented brain. He's wiser, bigger and far more loving than I. God still wants to hear our prayers because he loves us and wants to be in communication with us. Also, in asking God for things we desire, we remember that we depend upon Him, not ourselves. He is the giver of all that is good. And, he sometimes gets bugged by all our asking and, if it can be for the greater good, he grants it. Check out the amazing story Jesus told about us always asking God for what we desire, what we may even believe we need - Luke 18: 1- 8

So, next Christmas, feel free to ask God for snow - it does matter. He loves to hear from us and know our desires. And, if it snows, praise God! It would be a very rare thing in St. Louis. If he doesn't, then remember it's not for the best for maybe people in the Midwest or for weather trends somewhere else in the world, or maybe even for the future. Weather trends are strange, you know.

Be assured of my prayers for you.

Higher Ways

Isaiah 55:8-9; Phil. 4:6-07

If I could only fly
I'd go up and look down from the sky
So I could see the bigger picture
And Lord if I could sit with You
At Your feet for an a hour or two
I'm sure I'd ask too many questions
'Cause there's so much going on down here
That I must confess I just don't understand

But I have prayed
At Your feet my whole life has been laid
So I won't worry, I won't be afraid
'Cause my soul is resting on Your higher ways
Let the road ahead become unclear
I am Yours so what have I to fear
If my soul is resting on Your higher ways

Your higher ways, teach me to trust You
Your higher ways are not like mine
Your higher ways are the ways of a Father
Hiding His children in His love

So let it rain
And if my eyes grow dim with tears of pain
This hope I have will not be washed away
'Cause my soul is resting on Your higher ways

Someday I will fly
Maybe then You will take me aside
And show me the bigger picture
But until I'm with You
I'll be here with a heart that is true
And a soul that is resting on Your higher ways

written: Steven Curtis Chapman & Phil Naish
album: For the Sake of the Call
c1990 Sparrow Song (a div. of The Sparrow Corp.)/Careers Music, Inc. (BMG)/Greg Nelson Music (admin. by Careers Music, Inc.) (BMG) (BMI)/Devaub Music (admin. by BMG Songs, Inc.)(ASCAP)