God always answers prayer. We tend to think that prayers are only answered if we get what we want. But, that’s not true. God always answers prayer.
Years ago when I ran an after-school children’s ministry I explained it to the kids this way. It’s kind of like asking your mom for a cookie. Sometimes she says yes. Sometimes she says no. Sometimes she tells you to wait until after dinner.
It’s so hard for us when God doesn’t answer our prayers in the way we want or expect. There have been so many times when I got frustrated, only to figure out eventually that I simply didn’t recognize God’s answer because things didn’t happen as I expected.
Wait is an especially difficult answer for me, but I’m learning to trust His timing. Also, while He is all-powerful, He doesn’t force his will on people. Our pastor is fond of saying that God is a gentleman. Satan will drag you into situations and attempt to force his will on you. God gently nudges. He knocks, then waits for our response. If what I’m praying for depends on another person’s response, it may take years for me to see the answer.
The hardest of answers is usually no. Sometimes that’s because we need to experience the consequences of our actions. Sometimes it’s because we’re short-sighted and God always sees the long view. Sometimes there is no earthly explanation for why God has chosen to answer no.
One of the things I’m learning to do is accept His answer, no matter what. If I really believe Romans 8:28 (“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”), then I have to trust that He will use whatever happens for my own good.
It’s simple. Trust Him, and move forward. It’s sure not easy, though.