I have noticed many people seem convinced that God does not answer prayer because they did not get the exact kind of help they wanted when they wanted it, or at all from all outward appearances.
But before we get too frustrated and fear that God may not be paying attention, we need to consider a few things. There are actually many reasons why the answers to our prayers may not seem to come when or in the way we would like, but that doesn’t mean that God did not notice.
Sometimes prayers can be delayed, not because we are doing anything wrong but because the evil one wants to delay our prayers and discourage us. The righteous Jewish prophet Daniel had his prayers delayed and the angel explained, “Then he continued, ‘Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come.’” Daniel 10:12-14 While the answer to the prayer was delayed, it still came.
We need to be willing to wrestle with God in praye, like Jacob did when he was fighting for his life with God and concerned about the anger of his brother due to how he took advantage of him in the past. “When the man saw that he was not winning he touched the joint of Jacob’s thigh. And Jacob’s thigh was put out of joint while he fought with him. The man said, ‘Let me go. For the morning has come.’ But Jacob said, ‘I will not let you go unless you pray that good will come to me.’ The man asked him, ‘What is your name?’ He said, ‘Jacob.’ And the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel. For you have fought with God and with men, and have won. Genesis 32:25-28
Another thing we can learn is sometimes experiencing painful situations like when Jacob’s thigh was put out of joint at times the pain and delay of life can actually be part of the answer to our prayers even though we may not like it. Because prayer is not about changing God or even simply changing circumstances (although prayer can result in that), but changing ourselves. There is a Jewish saying, "Who rise from prayer better persons, their prayer is answered."-The Reform Prayer Book. While it may seem nice to get the answers to prayer we want whenever we want, that doesn’t always happen even after a long delay.
But when we meet God in the next life we will find whatever the outcome was that frustrated us so much in this life that God clearly always had our best interest at heart and our spiritual health in the long run is more important than what happens now. Building our faith by learning to cling to God because of who God is and not for what God gives even when it hurts is more valuable than having everything we want in this life whenever we want. What is the point of having the answers we want in this life if it results in never hearing from God in the next life? Don’t like our desires in this short temporally season of life blind us to what our true goals should be and cause us to mistrust the love of God for us.
Picture originally found here