This blog post was adapted from Lutheran Life™, a digital magazine for everyday Christians. Read the full magazine at cph.org/lutheranlife.
You have a request. Maybe it’s big, maybe it’s small.
God, I want a spouse. A baby. Healing. A new job. Reconciliation. Rest.
You cry to God—the only thing you know to do in a situation like this. Day in and day out, you feel like you’re flinging your supplications up to God only to have them fall back down on your bowed head.
Unanswered. Unheard. At least, that’s how it seems.
Nothing has changed. Or maybe things have gotten worse. Against your better judgment, you find yourself questioning God. You faithfully pray “Thy will be done,” but it’s getting harder and harder to see exactly what that will is.
Your mind spirals into thoughts that you can’t help but consider:
- Why isn’t God answering my prayers?
- Am I not praying correctly?
- Am I not praying enough?
- Is God even hearing my prayers?
And sometimes, when you voice these concerns to faithful friends, they might offer you platitudes that don’t really comfort or build you up:
God’s timing isn’t our timing. It’s all part of God’s plan. God’s got this. Just because you don’t get the answer you want doesn’t mean God isn’t listening.
These quips certainly are true, but when God feels silent and you feel abandoned, they just seem like a condescending pat on the head when all you really want is a hug.
You might be tempted to stop praying—maybe you already stopped a long time ago. Why continue a one-sided relationship? Like the psalmist, you’ve been asking God, “Why do You hide Your face from me?” (Psalm 88:14). Why talk to someone who seems distant and absent?
There is no easy solution or five-step plan to praying. There’s no secret recipe to understanding the will of God with three parts prayer and two parts Bible reading.
All we can do is pray, read His Word, and receive His Sacraments.
And yes, that seems to be just another platitude that is a Band-Aid over a deeper wound. But when you feel like you’re searching for God, you have to go where He has promised He can be found—in His Word and Sacraments.
Too often, when we assert that we can’t find God, it’s because we aren’t looking in the right places. God is certainly with us always, but we can be sure of the places where He promises to meet us.
Maybe you have been going to church, reading God’s Word, and receiving His Sacraments—and God still feels distant. What then?
Thanks be to God, faith is not about feeling. Faith is trusting that God hears our prayers, even when we doubt they’re being heard. While it’s certainly hard to trust that in the midst of darkness, faith is grounded in trust that God’s Word is truth. That faith, that knowledge, is bigger than our doubts.
“O Lord, You hear the desire of the afflicted; You will strengthen their heart”
The promises of God are true, even when we feel like we aren’t experiencing them. So when you feel like God isn’t hearing your prayers, keep praying. When you aren’t feeling spiritually filled during worship, keep attending. When you “aren’t getting anything out of” your devotion, keep reading.
“The one who prays is never forgotten.”
(Our Way Home, p. 35)
It’s difficult. It can be frustrating. And it certainly can feel futile. But our God is present, faithful, and compassionate. He hears your cries, and He loves you still.
“You have kept count of my tossings;
put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book?” (Psalm 56:8)