It’s frustrating and just plain hard when our prayers are not answered. We pray for God’s will to be done and in Jesus’s name with the assumption that our prayers align with how God intends. Sometimes, however, it’s true that our prayer requests are not answered. Consider these three examples from Scripture.
Join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. Pray that I may be kept safe from the unbelievers in Judea and that the contribution I take to Jerusalem may be favorably received by the Lord’s people there, so that I may come to you with joy, by God’s will, and in your company be refreshed. The God of peace be with you all. Amen.
Paul asked for prayer that he be rescued from Jewish unbelievers in Judea and that his ministry would be acceptable to the believers in Jerusalem. His hope was that he would be “refreshed” in Rome on his way to more ministry in Spain. But, Acts records different results and tells us how things really turned out (Acts 21:15ff). Paul was not rescued from the unbelievers in Judea but was arrested (Acts 21:33) and he did not go on to Rome for “refreshment” but eventually stood trial in Rome after incarceration in Caesarea for some 2 years and suffering a shipwreck along the way.
I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
(2 Cor 12:7–9).
Paul explicitly asked God to remove a “thorn in the flesh” (2 Cor. 12:1-10). Yet God saw fit to say no but instead supply more grace to endure rather than merely answer his request as he prayed.
He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”
Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane was for God to “take this cup from me” (Lk. 22:42), which either was a) his impending death, b) the weight of the world’s sin he would soon bear, or c) both a) and b). Regardless of your answer I’m thankful to God that Jesus’s prayer was not answered!