How 'Unanswered' Prayers Draw Us Closer to God

Even when we think God isn't listening, prayer still continues the conversation with Him.

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Unanswered prayers

Sometimes prayer doesn’t work. 

That may be an unpopular—even blasphemous—statement. But it’s more or less true, from our human perspective at least. We pray for a healing that never comes. We ask for something to change, and it doesn’t. We plead for answers we never get. But even when a prayer isn’t answered, it still “works.”

My five-year old grandson, Ryder, sat at the dinner table, nearly in tears. He glared at the three remaining chicken fingers on his plate. His mother had told him to take three more bites of his food—just bites, not even the whole thing—before he could be excused from the table. He complained and cried as though eating three bites (of a food he normally enjoyed) would threaten his very existence.

I sat down beside him. I tried to encourage him, to no avail. 

Then he straightened and looked at me, bright-eyed. “You could eat my chicken for me.” 

“No, buddy, I can’t. Your mom said you have to eat three bites.”

“But if you eat it, she’ll think I did.” 

“But it would still be disobeying your mom. And it would be a lie for us to let her think you ate them.”


“No, I’m sorry, buddy. But I’ll sit here with you for as long as it takes. We can talk or we can sit quietly, until you manage to eat three more bites.”

His heartfelt entreaty didn’t work. But we sat together and talked a little until he finally managed to finish his meal.

We may not always get our preferred answers to our prayers. We may feel at times as though God isn’t listening, much less cooperating. But prayer still works in such times. It continues the conversation. It reminds us that He is there. And even when—for whatever reasons—we don’t get the answers we crave, prayer still brings comfort and strength from being in His presence and knowing we are not alone.

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Tags: Faith,God,Prayer
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