We have all been there in one form or the other. Everything that’s supposed to be plugged in, turned on, tightened up and tuned in has been done…
But it still doesn’t work.
The computer won’t reboot
The iphone won’t connect to the wireless network
The lamp won’t light
The engine won’t crank
The screen won’t come on
…and on and on the list goes. It happens. To everyone. Everything you think you are supposed to do to make it work; every carefully read detail in the directions (in three languages!) has been read and it still doesn’t work.
But most of us (except for the most anger-challenged among us) will try and try again before we throw an expensive phone, laptop, TV, or video game controller into the nearest body of water. We’ll go through the directions… one more time (maybe in a different language this time). And we’ll jiggle and re-tighten or call the tech support person in another country and change the battery or try a new cord.
So what happens when prayer doesn’t work? When you feel the connection is not tight or, no matter how hard you try or how loudly you pound on Heaven’s door, it seems no one hears and no one cares. Is there a “tech support” person you can turn to or another set of instructions we can consult to find the problem?
Clearly there are instructions we can consult for just the moments we are talking about. In the next blog, we will talk specifically about reasons our prayers don’t get answered. But for a starting place let’s acknowledge that the primary purpose of our prayer experience with God is not about walking away with the “prize” we are looking for. It is truly about the time we spend with God, even if something is in our life that is unpleasant, and we want it (or them) GONE, or something is NOT in our life that we believe is necessary if we are going to be happy.
But what if an unanswered petition is not an indication that our prayer life is broken, but that it need to be deepened? What if God’s intent and purpose in calling us into relationship with Him as expressed in prayer is more about His desire to spend time with us than with granting us “three wishes” as though He were a genie in a bottle?
Sometimes I believe the thing that most needs “fixing” is our expectation of what prayer is really about. What if “getting something” from God is the lowest level; the entry level of prayer… while being content when your prayer isn’t answered is a mark of maturity?
In other words, maybe a repair isn’t what is needed at all. Maybe… it’s a relationship.
“Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:4)
FOR REFLECTION: How has God used an unmet need or an unanswered prayer to deepen your walk with and dependency upon Him?