The radio station I worked for in New Haven, Connecticut was coming to an end soon and there were no other radio openings in that city. That meant my pursuit for radio employment focused on other cities. Convinced we were moving, we literally packed almost all our belongings before I even found a new job!
Back then I had recently learned that Jesus said, “When you pray, believe that you will receive.” That’s why we packed basically everything except two dishes, two forks, and two towels! It was all boxed and stacked in the small living room of our one bedroom apartment.
We were praying. We were believing. We were expecting, trusting, and staying confident God would answer our prayer. But…
What If There Is No Answer?
More about what happened in New Haven in a couple of minutes, but first, what happens when you pray and there is no answer? What does one do after consistently praying, but seeing no results? Now what?
There’s no pat answer for that question, but there is something I do know is true. It’s a huge mistake when you’re praying about something, and no answer comes in the time frame you determine, and then you come to the conclusion that because the situation hasn’t changed in the time frame you thought it should, then it must be God’s will. That’s a big mistake.
That kind of thinking is prompted by the philosophy that everything that happens is the will of God; everything happens for a reason; God is in charge of everything!
Have you ever thought that if God really is in charge of everything and He orchestrates everything, and whatever happens is His will, then why does He encourage us in the Scriptures so many times to pray? If you had a casserole in the oven for supper, you wouldn’t encourage your children to ask you what they’d like to have for supper, would you?
Let’s Think About This
I think it’s safe to say in your life as well as in mine, at times, there are things we do not know or understand. So let’s stop for a minute and consider what we do know about prayer. That will give us some insight on what to do when we don’t see an answer to our prayer.
There’s a lot in the Scriptures about praying. His ears are open to our prayers; casting all your cares on Him; pray without ceasing; continue in prayer and watch; let your requests be made known unto God. Prayer is a huge topic!
We read God’s ears are open to our prayers. That means He hears every prayer we pray. That’s a promise from Him; a guarantee He hears us every time we talk to Him.
However, there is no scripture that says God will answer every prayer we pray, in the way we think it should be answered, and in the time frame we determine. Our part is to simply pray and believe.
Jesus taught about prayer many times. He indicated that prayer should be persistent, in other words, don’t give up, don’t faint, keep at it.
So How Long Do You Keep Praying?
Some pray for a while, then stop and declare, because they haven’t received an answer, their present circumstance must be God’s will. Others come to the conclusion that God certainly has a good reason for not answering their prayer. Still others say that perhaps God is testing you by not answering.
Those conclusions are completely unfounded unless God Himself reveals that to you. Scripture is clear that He encourages us to pray often and that He hears. And, Jesus Christ said we ought to “always pray and not faint!”
And of course it’s a good idea to remember that our requests are just that; requests. We humbly petition God Almighty with our needs. We do not arrogantly suppose to give out orders to the Almighty, telling Him what to do, how to do it, and when to have it done!
There will always be things we may not know or understand, but we can still pray, and then, keep praying. But, for how long? Well, here’s a really cool quote about persistence in prayer from George Muller, a man who excelled at answered prayer.
“I live in the spirit of prayer. I pray as I walk, when I lie down, and when I rise. And the answers are always coming. Tens of thousands of times have my prayers been answered. When once I am persuaded that a thing is right, I go on praying for it. The great point is never to give up till the answer comes. The great fault of the children of God is, they do not continue in prayer; they do not persevere. If they desire anything for God’s glory, they should pray until they get it.”
Mr Muller’s life was a testimony of praying and believing God. There are a number of books about his life that are very inspiring. In his life, as in all our lives, there are times when prayers are quickly answered, and other times we just keep praying until the answer comes.
Back in New Haven, we kept praying and trusting God for an answer. I continued pursuing and finally found an opening in Oklahoma City that was a right fit for me. I sent the necessary information and continued praying every day, as well as calling them every day for weeks, without success.
It was a Friday morning when I finally got through on the phone to the program director for the first time. The call lasted less than thirty seconds. After casual introductions, he abruptly said, “Sorry, you didn’t get the job, gotta go.” The call was over.
I was stunned! I had been praying for several months for a new job. I had literally packed all my belongings, because I was “believing” to get an answer. I just stood there looking at the wall.
My wife asked, “What did he say?” When I told her what he said, her response to me was almost as shocking as the phone call. I now began to stare at her..
“You got the job,” she said with a smile. I tried to tell her five or six times what he said, but she wouldn’t budge. “You got the job.” She was locked in: still praying and believing.
I was somewhat confused all weekend. And honestly, I felt a little stupid looking at all the boxes piled up, still wondering why he said I didn’t get the job. My big question was not with God, but rather with that program director. Why did he say I didn’t get the job?
The following Monday morning I still couldn’t get the question of why I didn’t get the job I knew I was very qualified for out of my head. And then I had an interesting thought. Since he didn’t tell me why I didn’t get the job, I decided to call his boss, the general manager, and ask him. That call lasted about one minute.
The general manager told me the salary I requested in my letter was more than they could pay. I told him I never had a chance to discuss it. We then immediately agreed on a wage. I asked if they could pay for my moving expenses. He agreed, and two weeks later I was in Oklahoma City at my new job.
Oh, and of course, after that phone call, Kathy asked, “What did he say?”
Are there circumstances we do not know or understand? Sure. Can situations change? Of course. And while there are things I don’t know or understand, there’s something I learned long ago, and still apply it in my life today: just keep praying and trusting God.
I am confident that as I stay persistent in prayer, one of two things will happen. My prayer will indeed be answered, or, God will open a door I never even considered that brings a much greater benefit to my life.