January 7, 2022 - Isaiah 58 – Why Prayers Go Unanswered

:hawaiianshirt_3: Pastor JD talks about how God, through the prophet Isaiah, provides His people with an explanation as to why prayers and even fasting can go unanswered, then celebrates communion at the conclusion.

Watch on JDFarag.org
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or watch on youtube

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For awhile now, and this is a pedantic side of me, I’ve thought about the “unanswered prayer” idea and I am wondering if that’s a good way of explaining it. I say this because of the three ways God answers prayers to begin with. There’s the obvious, “Yes, Wait, and No”. So by that admission, instead of the prayer not being answered, wouldn’t it just be an answer of “No”?

That’s pretty much the only hangup I have about things right now. Maybe I missed something last night and previous moments where this is talked about, but I don’t believe I have. Anyone feel they could help edify me in this debacle of a dilemma I’m having? @jasonacts177, @JackN, @YosemiteMountainMan, @BayouBushi, @Matthew82, @JaimieOxford, @Redeemed777, @JDForumTeam, @Gigi, @GR

I can only add I think 10 names so, I’m pretty much taking anyone that has a solid answer lol.

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Makes sense to me, at some point in His time God always answers prayer. We just might not like the answer or based on how long the answer comes we assume He hasn’t answered. To say God has not or does not answer prayer may be more of an assumption on the part of the believer making the request/prayer.

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@Jon

It may be a prayer that He is willing to answer but we won’t let Him do it His way. I don’t know if this helps but that’s the way I understand it.

My prayers have ALWAYS been answered. A no is just as good as a yes.

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You have answered your own question. :wink:

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Grab a cup or glass of whatever you drink. Get good and comfortable.

As @Jon put it there is not really a time when prayers go unanswered. No is definitely an answer just as wait is. But that is not the underlying point of the question, why prayers go unanswered. The implication is made by people who have prayed for something and to their knowledge did not get what they were praying for. In that case the answer no is assumed to be a non answer. Still that does not address the real question being asked which is why am I not getting an affirmative yes to what I am requesting.
But before we get to that lets look at the 3 possibilities Jon gave, yes, wait, and no. Do we have examples from scripture to help us better understand? Oh yeah several.

For the YES answer lets look at the Roman Centurion. He went to Jesus because his son was very sick with a fever. After his exchange with Jesus about not being worthy but just say the word and it would happen, Jesus explains what faith looks like and healed the child immediately. We know this because the Centurion inquired as to the time of the fever breaking and it was at the time he was talking to Jesus.

Now lets look a the WAIT answer. That would be with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. The sisters sent word(think of that as a prayer because in essence it was) for Jesus to come and heal their brother. Jesus tarried and Lazarus died. When Jesus finally got to them it was 4 days after Lazarus had died(this is important because it is said that after 3 days corruption of the body - deterioration has started). So upon meeting with the sisters they complain that had he come in time Lazarus would not have died. Yet Jesus goes them one better and raises Lazarus from the dead even though he is now 4 days dead. The prayer was still answered but they had to wait. They weren’t told to wait but the did wait and still got their brother back to life. In short Jesus made them wait.

In the case of a No answer lets look to Paul. Paul prayed to have a throng removed from his side. We never know what that thorn is what the trouble he was forced to live with but it was not removed. So was the prayer unanswered or was the answer just no? From scripture Paul says the answer was no and the reason for it was to show Paul God’s grace is sufficient for anything. But if Paul had not told us that what would our assumption be? Of course it would be the answer was left unanswered. What was the likely reason for that particular case with Paul. It would be safe to say that God knows at times we will pray for things and for His reasons and to display His grace He will say no. But unlike Paul we may not have a word from God as to the reason why in our time because we have it in scripture if we but look for it.

Based on the line of reasoning the answer to the title question is that no prayer goes unanswered. NO is definitely an answer even if it is not the one we hope for.

So that brings us to the next unspoken part of that question, WHY is the answer no. Well as we saw with Paul it was because God did that to demonstrate a simple fact, His grace was enough for Paul to continue on and succeed in bringing the Gospel to the Gentiles and growing the early church. In our times it is an instruction to us that regardless of what hardship we are facing and hoping to get out of God has a plan and it may not include a sudden and full restoration of the nature we hope to see. Instead it may be meant to be a demonstration of God’s power, love, grace, for others to see. Remember Paul in one of his letters starts with so that you don’t think we have a life of ease these are the things we have had to contend with even the fear of death so that others would be comforted to know their own struggles are not strange or peculiar to themselves.

In another instance we look to Moses. Moses prayed to walk in and see the promised land but that never happened. God said no and there was a reason for that no. God is just and loving at the same time. Moses had gained the anger of God through his dealings with the Israelites during the Exodus. In fact that angered God enough that no one over the age of 20 at the time of those events never made it into the promised land. But what was God’s point? I would venture to say it was two fold. First is that God is just and sin has consequences. While we may be forgiven our sins to eternal life that does not automatically equate to avoiding the consequences of those sins in this life. Those consequences are often the very lessons we need to learn so we truly repent of them and do them no more. Yet in love for us we are still forgiven those sins as we still have eternal life with God because we accepted the work of Jesus on the cross in our behalf.

Finally that brings to the often stated reason of what are we asking for and why. This part of the question has been addressed by many pastors, teachers, theologians, and scholars. That being that we, as they say, ask amiss. What they are referring to is out motive for our prayer. There are many prayers such as just let me have that expensive home, that fancy car, etc. Prayers for a life of ease and self promotion. To such do we really expect God to say yes? Then there are prayers for miraculous healing such as was done in scripture. Lets say a prayer for instant healing is put out and nothing happens. Why not? I mean Jesus and the apostles were able to do that in their time. But we fail to look at why they were able to do it at that time. The reason for them being able to do it was for one thing only God’s glory. So when we pray for wealth and fame or immediate recovery from some serious illness are we going to give the glory to God or are we going to forget about him as soon as we get what we asked for? We know the answer to that even if we don’t want to admit it to ourselves.

Yet on the other hand how many times have we heard of stories where people having say little money have been able to get things done and stay debt free in the process or healing came in short order for what ever illness or health issue at that time.

Personal case, a triple bypass. I was out of ICU and into a room in less than 24 hours and out of the hospital in 4 days and back to full work in two months. Such a surgery usually takes upwards of 4 to 6 months to just go back to work at all. In that case the answer was yes but, not instantaneous just more rapidly than what is normal. To God be the glory for that.

Back to the discussion, what many of those who have done a thesis on this say it we ask amiss in that we ask for personal selfish reasons and/or we ask out of what God wants to accomplish in our lives. Remember the blind man that was healed by Jesus with the clay on the eyes. Jesus was asked who sinned, the man or his parents. Jesus said neither but he was born blind so that the Glory of God would be manifested for the children of Israel to see so they would know who Jesus was. Simply put we are asking for things outside the will of God. To such things the only answer we can expect is NO.

Side reflection that helps me to understand this. As a kid I would always ask my Dad for all the stupid junk toys I saw on TV on Saturday mornings. His answer was always sure, I will get you two of them. When I asked why two he would say in case you break or lose one. In other words the answer was no. So imagine if I pray to God for say a 40 double masted sailing yacht. His answer might be to me sure I will get you two of them and for the same reason as my Dad did it which is it a stupid request that served me no purpose save to spoil me and give me an entitlement attitude which will have me treating people badly because I have gotten so arrogant. In short the answer is no.

To bring this to a screeching halt what Jon said is correct. All prayer is answered. The three options are yes, wait, and no. When we get the no answer it is our perception of that answer that makes us think it was unanswered. But in fact it was answered. So I guess we can reason that there is no such thing as unanswered prayer.

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I love this sermon so much.

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Dare I say it?

Nailed it!

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Oh thank you so much @BayouBushi and @JackN and everyone else who answered. I am delighted to see the coming together of minds in synchronicity on a matter. Especially this one. Thank you @BayouBushi for taking the time to respond as you did. I had a bottle of water but never opened it.:grin:

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No problem. It is a good subject to be discussed especially in these times. As we all know Christians come in all range of maturity and such things as this can often hinder the growth of so called baby Christians and stunt their growth. Part of the duties we have to each other, instruct, edify, encourage.

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That was funny!

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tenor

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@JackN @Matthew82 Yall be…

stirring the pot

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Heh… :slight_smile:

stirring_the_pot

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Remember also that a “Wait” means a “Yes”. :wink:

(just not at the moment)

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There is also where No is for some trifling thing when God wants to do so much more.

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Those were great answers above. @BayouBushi great
informative post.

Great peace comes when one understands and trusts that
whichever answer God gives, yes, no or wait, it is the right
and good answer for our good and His Glory.

His ways are far above our ways and He will lead us and
our lives with His infinite mercy, love and wisdom according
to His perfect plan for our lives and His kingdom when we
become His children.

While it is good to ask for specific answers to prayer, we
needn’t be dismayed if some answers come differently
than expected.
He is altogether faithful, gracious and compassionate and
can always be trusted.

Job showed wisdom when he said, “Though He slay me, yet I
will trust in Him”.
I saw this picture yesterday and it touched me by its beauty.
Undoubtedly prayers were sent up to stop the storm
but it was not stopped and this was a response:

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That statement says it all. Thank you for adding it to the discussion.

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