Why We Don’t Get What We Pray For

Have you ever wondered why we don’t get what we pray for?

I know I certainly have.

We pray for God to heal our loved ones.

We pray for couples to get pregnant.

We pray for God to provide an opportunity for us to be promoted.

We pray for our kids’ safety.

We pray. We pray. & then we pray some more.

Sometimes when I pray, I feel drawn to certain scriptures, songs, or poems.

Sometimes when I pray, words just flow from my heart that I didn’t even know were there. It’s similar to the feeling of being REALLY inspired.

Often whatever I’m led to pray in turn fans the flames of hope, gives me ground to stand on, lifting me up, & bringing me peace.

Other times it guides me to a place of action. I may be reminded of a way I can love someone a little more or how I can change a mindset or attitude that I have.

When I take the time to pray, to calm, to meditate, & to listen, I walk away with something.

But what happens if I’m led to hope in a specific situation & what I prayed for falls through? What if I followed the proper steps of faith & prayer & the outcome was still devastating & painful?

When I asked myself these questions, an analogy came to mind. [thanks Dad ;)]

I thought of people who run competitively.

When deciding to run these races, often times a racer will hire a trainer or get advice from someone who knows how to train for races. These trainers have valuable information, guidance, inspiration…a lot of them know exactly what they need to do to win!

So the racer follows the grueling & time-consuming steps. They put in countless hours to get them through the training. Mastering every step of the process.

Does this guarantee them a victory on race day? No.

Just because we have the capability for certain results doesn’t guarantee them.img_8548

Look at all the qualified career people still looking for jobs! They have excellent training. Paid a crap ton of money for prestigious degrees. They have impeccable resumes. They have done everything to succeed & yet still have difficulty finding the dream job that they worked so hard for.

We can pray & exercise faith. We can follow scripture to what we believe to be a “T”, & we can believe the promise it gives us that we have power through Christ. But the things He promised us, do not ensure us specific outcomes. Make us bulletproof. Or ensure immediate victories.

I know in my heart that God grieves when I grieve & He doesn’t set me up for pain & devastation. I also know that He never leaves me when I inevitably go through difficult times.

When I’m ready, He helps me take all the mess [or sometimes just pieces of it] & recycle it into something useful & even beautiful.

What I know is that every difficult thing I go through makes me feel stronger when I get to the other side of it. I only experience that strength though, when I decide to keep going.

In my need to keep moving forward, I decided that knowing the “why?” of things isn’t as important as my peace. I decided that sometimes moving forward doesn’t make sense or even feel good. So I decided to place my focus on how grateful I am that God has a way of gently leading me & helping me change the things I need to change. This gentleness makes it easier to trust Him & His ways. Even when it hurts. His faithfulness makes it easier to not have to question everything & know that He’s working it out.

Do I think asking the question why? is bad? Heck no!

Praying is participating in a conversation.

When I’m chatting with a friend & I’m trying to understand something delicate going on in their life or I’m curious about certain things that I have only observed from the outside. I will ask my question as respectfully as possible, but then always follow it up with something like…if you don’t mind sharing with me or it’s totally none of my business so don’t feel obligated to share, I was just wondering.

This is how I’m beginning to see my approach with Christ about the things I don’t understand in my own life. I know that my life is not some little bubble that He delicately coddles. No. My world is beautifully intertwined with the lives of others. We are connected in this beautiful world whether we want to be or not.

So when something is going on in my life that hurts & sucks & I just don’t understand, I ask God…so whatcha up to? What’s this all about? I mean, you totally don’t have to tell me, but I was just curious.

I think what matters is the purpose of our asking. As with any relationship, there is questioning that is a “seek to understand” & then there is a “prove to me that I’m wrong in my assumptions/point of view!” One of these is healthier than the other when seeking connection.

But God, I did what you told me to & I’m unhappy with the result!

Or I am honestly trying to see what I’m missing? I don’t get it, God. I don’t know why I felt so hopeful that we wouldn’t lose her & then we did. What am I not seeing? What am I not understanding? 

A good indication of where you’re at on the topic, if you don’t already know, is how you respond when you think God isn’t responding to you. When you pray to understand & are met with radio silence. What then?

I have been in a place where I’ve responded with anger. I’ve been mad at God. When I’ve felt betrayed & like I was being overlooked. I’ve also struggled with feeling inadequate like my prayers weren’t said the right way or didn’t include enough scripture, or maybe didn’t have enough faith in them.

None of these reactions are bad. Please please please don’t give yourself a hard time if you are responding in any of those ways, or others I didn’t mention! You are human. You are processing the way you need to. Keep moving forward in your process, I know you can.

Don’t set up residence in one emotional place.

  • If you are angry, great! Breath & then look for the calm.
  • If you are questioning everything under the sun, great! Question, wonder, ask, & look for level ground to stand on.
  • If you are weary, great! Rest & look for refreshing.
  • If you are sad, great! Let the tears fall & then look for hope.
  • If you feel defeated, great! Acknowledge your failed attempt @ whatever it was & then start dusting yourself off, restrategizing, & look for the next opportunity to try again. 

We get down, but then we get up again!

So, back to the original question: Why don’t we get what we pray for? Because, sometimes what we ask for doesn’t match with what God knows is best for us.

It can be hard to understand how great pain or loss can be what’s best for us. But I believe that life isn’t about searching all of our days for the special equation that gets us what we want every time. We don’t need to understand, even though we desperately want to.

A faith, based on how many prayers are answered the way we want isn’t reliable. img_9109

So much of our life isn’t about the final result of ONE situation or another but about the process we take in the waiting & the results of many situations fitting together to make a whole.

I like how Lysa Terkeurst described this life, as “between two gardens” in her book: It’s Not Supposed to be This WayThere is a lot of unknown in this space [after birth but before Heaven] but we can rest knowing that however our journey looks, however, we leave this earth, God has us in His precious hands. He cares for us & our hearts, whether we understand it all or fight for control of it all. He is faithful.

It is my hope to be considered faithful too.

What do you think? Have you become weary waiting for the “up-swing” of life? Do you question whether or not praying does any good or if anyone hears you?

Friends, He does. He loves us more than we can even comprehend or put into words.

We may not always get what we pray for, but that’s okay. Sometimes it’s even more than okay, we just can’t see it yet. Let’s keep moving forward anyway.



The Mess in Me Honors the Mess in You


*The following is an affiliate link to the book I mentioned in my post: It’s Not Supposed to be This Way. I will be sharing more about the powerful impact this book has had on my life, but if you’d like to snag your own copy, just click the picture below to purchase & then a portion of that sale supports me! Win-Win! 😉 

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