Given God’s Prayer Promises, Mark 11:20-25
Why does Prayer Go Unanswered?
Think of a BIG prayer that you’ve been praying. For: healing, depression, money Got it? Then hear Jesus say… This sweeping prayer promise moves mountains!
Yet, even though Jesus promises such sweeping power to prayer, why do certain prayers go unanswered? Moses prayed to enter the Promised Land—God refused. David prayed for an infant son to live—God let him die. Paul prayed that his “thorn in the flesh” (maybe his eyesight?) be removed—God kept his vision at 20-2000, whatever. Even Jesus prayed that his cup of suffering pass from him—God sent him to the cross.
In light of Jesus’ powerful prayer promises, why does God not answer some prayer?
Today the Spirit will help you examine why a prayer of yours may not be answered.
The first reason Yancey helps us see in the Bible is sin. Jesus is referring to this in verse 25… Someone here is praying for Uncle Harry to get along with the family, but you’re forgetting that prayer probably isn’t going to change Harry, until it changes you to forgive him for the scene he made at Christmas dinner. Another example of sin getting in the way of prayer’s answer, writes Yancey, is when prison chaplains share that some convicts only pray when they hear the police siren. God help me get away! Of course, Yancey points out, that prayer makes God an accomplice to the crime. Then there’s the sin of religious extremism. Faith Assembly church in IN teaches that God heals by faith alone, without the help of modern medicine. So medical researchers have studied the results: the infant mortality rate is three times higher than normal, and the mortality rate associated with childbirth is 100 times greater! Faith and medicine is best!
The second reason that God may not be answering your prayer Yancey calls contradictory prayers. That’s partly what this fig tree curse is about. Jesus was hungry, but it wasn’t fig season. So, no matter Jesus’ desire, God wasn’t about to magi-cally produce figs in February even for his own son! This is why I don’t pray for weather or sports. If I pray for sun on my picnic but the farmer prays for rain, why should God answer me? If I pray for the Giants and my MI family prays for U of M graduate Tom Brady’s Patriots, what’s up with that? (That’s also why I don’t bet because then I’d be tempted to pray a contradictory sports prayer.) On a slightly more serious level Yancey quotes the ironic British WWII poem-prayer… Please read it with me…
The last reason that God may not be answering your prayer, and maybe the most common reason, is that God may have a higher purpose for you. What was the higher purpose of Jesus cursing the fig tree? It was to symbolize Israel’s unfruitfulness in carrying out her mission. So God would prune Israel (e.g., destroy the temple) and graft in we Gentiles to accomplish the mission. (cf. Romans 11). Yancey gives two great examples: 1) Augustine’s mother prays that her son will not sail to wicked Rome. However Augustine tricks her and goes anyway. Later he was converted to Christ there and became the greatest church father of the 5th century. 2) The missionaries prayed for China as they were kicked out in 1950. It looked like the church might die. However, under communist oppression God multiplied the underground church many times over!So what are you praying for that is not being answered? Find a quiet time today to think about whether it is because of sin, a contradiction, or God has a higher purpose. Turn from the sin, back away from the contradiction, and/or accept the higher purpose.