Who among us hasn’t experienced the frustration of an “unanswered” prayer? You know the situation – we pray for a loved one to return to the Church, for a new job, for a physical healing, for any number of intentions, and God appears to be silent. He doesn’t say “yes”, He doesn’t say “no”, He doesn’t seem to answer at all.
In these instances, it’s important to remember that we shouldn’t put time limits on God. While we often make Him wait for years to respond to His call, we expect an immediate answer to our prayers. Although Jesus assured us that we will “receive” when we ask, He doesn’t promise that our prayers will be answered instantly. We need to trust in God’s perfect timing and know that the best answer (not necessarily the one we want) will be received when the time is right.
The Bible illustrates the importance of persevering in prayer. In the parable of the widow and the unrighteous judge (Lk 18: 1-8), Our Lord teaches the importance of praying without losing heart. He also delivers the same message in the story of the individual who looks to borrow three loaves of bread from a friend (Lk 11: 5-13). When Jesus heals a blind man at Bethsaida (Mk 8:22-25), the healing doesn’t take place immediately, but occurs in stages. After Jesus lays hands on the man, his sight is only partially restored. Our Lord responds by repeating the gesture which results in a total healing. In the Gospel of Matthew, we read the story of the Canaanite woman who asks Jesus to heal her daughter (Mt 25:21-28) and is seemingly rejected with Jesus’ words, “It is not fair to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” However, when the woman humbly replies, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table”, Jesus praises her faith and heals her daughter.
The message of these scriptural passages is clear – don’t ever stop praying. God is listening and will answer our prayers in His time. He knows what is best for us and for those for whom we pray. If you have an intention, He wants you to keep asking. Of course, we need to remember that the best answer isn’t always the one that we want. Do you struggle with this? Don’t feel bad because you’re not alone. On the night before He died, Our Lord provides us with a great example how we should pray:
“My Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou will.” (Mt 26:39)