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3 Reasons Why God Might Be Waiting to Answer Your Prayer

Tree with spring blooms with a picture of a person standing on a dark path with autumn leaves on the ground inserted over the top

If you are like me, at one time or another, you have become discouraged waiting for God to answer your prayer.

Waiting for answer to prayer is not a new phenomenon.  In fact, the Bible is filled with stories of people who never saw the fulfillment of the answer to their longstanding prayers.

Hebrews 11 describes persevering faith - those saints before us who were waiting for answers to prayer, but but did not experience the fullness of those answers while here on earth. 

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 

By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.  By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised.  Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude—innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off [e]were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

In the same way, when we pray, we should be praying according to God's character and promises. Even though we may pray for a long time and not see any evidence of an answer, we can have faith and hold on to hope that our Promise Keeping God will answer in His perfect time.  

So how do we develop this type of faith when our prayers go unanswered for years and years?

In order to understand how to develop a prayer life that doesn't waver when answers don't come quickly, you must look at the mindset you are currently fostering.  If you struggle when waiting for an answer to prayer, that could actually be the reason why God might be waiting to answer your prayer...

I believe there are 3 reasons why God might be waiting to answer your prayer.

                Reason #1 Why God Might be Waiting to Answer Your Prayer                     Becoming Impatient with God

Patience doesn't seem to be the strong suit of anyone these days.  With all the quick gratification and answers at our fingertips through the internet, is it any wonder that we become frustrated when we don't receive an answer to prayer.  We have been trained by Google that immediate answers to any questions are found at a moment's notice.

There are several examples in the Bible of those who were not willing to wait for God to act according to what He promised, so they moved forward with "their own plan" to help God along.

Now Abram’s wife Sarai had not borne a child to him, but she had an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar.  So Sarai said to Abram, “Look now, the LORD has prevented me from bearing children. Please go to my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family by her.” 
Genesis 16:1

Now Rebekah was listening as Isaac spoke to his son Esau. When Esau left for the open country to hunt game and bring it back,  Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “Look, I overheard your father say to your brother Esau,  ‘Bring me some game and prepare me some tasty food to eat, so that I may give you my blessing in the presence of the Lord before I die.’  Now, my son, listen carefully and do what I tell you:  Go out to the flock and bring me two choice young goats, so I can prepare some tasty food for your father, just the way he likes it.  Then take it to your father to eat, so that he may give you his blessing before he dies.”

Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, “But my brother Esau is a hairy man while I have smooth skin.  What if my father touches me? I would appear to be tricking him and would bring down a curse on myself rather than a blessing.”

His mother said to him, “My son, let the curse fall on me. 
Just do what I say; go and get them for me.”
Genesis 27:5-13

In Sarai's case she looked to her maidservant to provide the answer to God's promise, and in Rebekah's case, she relied on herself to orchestrate the outcome she wanted.  Both of these women's attempt to take things into their own hands, didn't end well.   They certainly didn't find peace by their own actions.

Although these women weren't praying about either of their situations (and maybe they should have!),  it certainly helps to illustrate what we are essentially doing when we try to take matters into our own hands to bring about an answer to prayer.

Impatience can also show itself by moving forward in a situation that we have been praying about before receiving confirmation from God.

Indeed there are times when we do need to take the first step out in faith in a matter of prayer, but that is something we are feeling led to do by the Lord.

It's a completely different thing to just quickly move forward in a manner that we think is right before we have spent an adequate amount of time in prayer.

All of this is to say that if you are finding that a prayer you have been praying is taking longer to be answered than you would've thought or hoped for, remember that just because YOU don't see God's activity, doesn't at all mean that He is NOT already working in that situation.  You can take comfort in that.

So rather than trying to push the issue, wait patiently, trusting that God will reveal His answer to you in His perfect timing.  

Your impatience is a symptom of a faith that needs more exercising.  As a result, the Lord may allow you to wait for an answer so that He can build your trust in His unseen activity, bolster your Hope in Him, and fortify your Faith.

              Reason #2 Why God Might be Waiting to Answer Your Prayer                      Giving Up On Your Prayer Request

I am guilty of this.  I pray for something for what I deem is an appropriate amount of time and when the answer doesn't come, I just assume the answer from God is "NO".

I was convicted listening to a sermon by Charles Stanley about prayer.  He addressed this very idea of giving up on a prayer saying, "When you don't continually pray about a matter UNTIL you get the answer, you are essentially telling God, 'Never mind, I don't really care about it that much anymore...'"

Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’  I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
Luke 11:5-9

It is so very important to continually seek the Lord with your prayer request without giving up for whatever reason.  Otherwise, as Charles Stanley said, we are essentially saying to God, it doesn't matter anymore.

Could giving up on your prayer be the reason why God is waiting to answer your prayer?  

He might be waiting so that you pray in the Spirit rather than in your own strength which clearly is the case when you give up.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
Romans 8:26

You might be thinking, well doesn't this verse tell us to let the Holy Spirit pray instead when we feel like giving up?  Indeed, He does intercede for us when we are too weak to do so ourselves and there are certainly gut wrenching situations where, like Moses, a person needs to have their "arms held up". 

I am speaking more of those times where often we just give up praying because of our own assumptions.  It is then that the Lord might be waiting to answer so that we develop the habit of asking the Holy Spirit to help us to persevere in prayer, as the verse above also indicates, "the Spirit  helps us in our weakness".

One of the saddest reasons people may give up on prayer is that they feel that God just doesn't care about them because they feel they have persevered for years in prayer, waiting for God to intervene, and yet they are still in a difficult or hopeless situation.

If you feel as though God doesn't care about you because He still hasn't answered your prayer, look to the Bible which certainly has examples of people who were in what seemed like hopeless situations for many years of their lives and yet we see how God worked in and through their lives.  

Joseph comes to mind.  He was left for dead by his brothers in a cistern.  When he finally was freed from the cistern, he was falsely accused and thrown into prison.  He had even asked the cupbearer to remember him and he didn't for two whole years.  Yet the story ends with Joseph being freed and ultimately becoming ruler of Egypt.  Joseph then says...

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, 
to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.
Genesis 50:20

You might not understand why your staying in your suffering, and in no way is this part of the post to devalue or minimize that suffering, but be encouraged, that the Lord sees you and hears you, and He will redeem your situation.  

It could be that the Lord has allowed you to wait for His answer because when He finally does, your Joy will be magnified.  

I have certainly found this to be the case when I have waited a long time for a prayer to be answered.  In fact, just recently a BIG prayer I had faithfully prayed for five years, that I confess, I would give up on every now and again when I would fall prey to believing what the professionals were saying about the situation, was recently answered EXACTLY in the BIG WAY I had prayed for!  I was blown away!  Why I'm not sure?  lol.  Didn't I pray for this?! 

Don't give up on prayer!  God hears and He very much cares.

                  Reason #3 Why God Might be Waiting to Answer Your Prayer                   Allowing Circumstances to Dictate Your Perceived Outcome

Sometimes life's circumstances do indeed seem quite bleak - Overwhelming really...  There seems to be no way out.

Our small group is currently doing the Bible Study Jesus on Money by Larry Burkett.  One of the chapters covers a family who was too deep in credit.  In one instance, the family feels that the stay at home wife/mother needs to work to help pay the bills.  In the second instance, the family feels they have no alternative but to go bankrupt.  Larry said that until the root of their overspending is discovered and rectified, adding another income or going bankrupt will only be short term bandaids. Until the initial problem of excess spending is addressed,  the couple will find themselves in the same situation again.  

We can tend to do this in many aspects of our lives.  We look for a quick fix, without addressing the heart issue.

This quick fix attitude can also permeate your prayer life.  Rather than allowing the Lord to lead your steps in a matter of prayer, you instead assess your circumstances and go into reactionary mode rather than thoughtful, prayerful, Biblical mode.  Sure you might utter a quick prayer, but you've pretty much already decided how YOU are going to move forward.  {Preaching to myself here...}

This approach will more than likely lead to chaos and defeat.

It's also important to be careful when you feel as though the Lord has given you the go-ahead for something you have been praying about, to be patient in moving forward in order to ensure that you are moving in the wisdom and strength of the Lord and not in your own strength.

The Lord might be waiting to answer prayers for direction to allow you to see that doing things in your own strength does not work and to show that He is waiting for YOU when you are done trying to work it out yourself and then He will restore you in order to train you in righteousness so that your first line of defense is to continually seek Him throughout the process.

May we all pray patient, persevering, Kingdom seeking prayers.  Who knows, we might just find answers to prayer coming quicker and quicker as our faith grows and our joy multiplies.  And we can know that even when we are waiting for an answer, God's love drives that wait.

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  1. Thank you so much for this! I do quite often become discouraged waiting for God to answer one specific prayer. Sometimes I feel like giving up—it'll never be answered. Sometime, I do give up! I become discouraged, just as your wrote. Thank you for this encouraging post. I needed the reassurance of your 3 points today. Lovely! You've made a difference!


    Thank you for linking up at InstaEncouragements!

    1. Hi Patsy, Praising God you received reassurance and encouragement here.

      And thank you so much for your encouraging words of kindness.

      Thanks for pinning and thanks for stopping by!

      You are very welcome!

  2. God's timing...when it is not mine, it truly is not easy to wait upon Him. Thank you for sharing His Word for it is the Truth. Your insights are excellent, Karen. Thanks for visiting me and leaving a comment. Take care of yourself.

    1. Hi Linda, You are welcome. Thank you so much for your kind and encouraging words.

      You are very welcome!

      And you too!


  3. SO much truth here, dear friend. I struggle so much with impatience, too, and it is a very hard thing to overcome. Our society has programmed us to think we shouldn't have to wait for anything. It is always such a blessing to come here and read what God has placed upon your heart. I am so grateful for you and your faithfulness to Him. May He richly bless you in these troubled times. Much love to you!

    1. Hi Cheryl, Indeed society has. :-( If only we could be present in the moment while we wait. To anticipate what God will do, resting in His promises at the same time.

      Thank you so much for continued love, encouragement and support. They all mean so much!

  4. We say in punjabi.. Tera kiya meetha laage... Translated it means.. Thy will be done and it tastes sweet...
    Well crafted post to reflect on this thought

    1. Hi Ruby, Thank you sooo much for sharing that here! I love that saying!

      Thank you so much for your kind comment. I appreciate it!

      Thanks so much for visiting here. :-)


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