Several years ago, Garth Brooks recorded a song called Unanswered Prayers. The premise to the song was that, as a teenager, he had prayed that God would grant him his wish to marry his high school sweetheart. After meeting the girl again many years later, he realized that God’s “unanswered prayer” turned out to be a tremendous blessing.
The words to the chorus are:
Sometimes I thank God, for unanswered prayers
Remember when you’re talkin’ to the man upstairs
That just because he doesn’t answer doesn’t mean he don’t care
Some of God’s greatest gifts, are unanswered prayers.
To this day, my mom gets frustrated by that song because, as she says, “God always answers prayers.” She is absolutely right. God does always answer prayers. However, I think Garth Brooks got it mostly right. What we might sometimes consider an unanswered prayer, is in reality a prayer answered “no”.
I also believe that sometimes when you think God says no, He is really saying, “wait.” The biggest problem with waiting is that it could be years before you realize that God was telling you to wait. All this time you thought God had told you a definite no and it takes the fulfillment of His true answer before you realize that He had intended for you to wait.
I am not a patient person so I don’t like waiting. However, when you realize that God has been saying, “Wait, because I have a blessing for you coming a little later,” that blessing always turns out to be bigger and more wonderful than you could have ever imagined. God has a way of rewarding patience. On the other hand, He also has a way of letting you know that that decision you made without waiting on Him was definitely the wrong decision.
It’s hard to accept that God does not work on our timetable. Sometimes we have to play a waiting game which can be extremely difficult especially considering that God does not just come down to have a heart-to-heart talk. I believe the proverb writer said it best,
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
6 Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take.
– Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT
It’s no fun to wait. It’s no fun when you feel like you are playing a guessing game with God regarding His will for your life. It would be so much easier if God would just come down and talk to you face to face. Of course, that’s where faith comes in. At some point, you must realize that when you trust in the Lord, you cannot go wrong.
And, I believe that the saying is right, “Some of God’s greatest gifts, are unanswered prayers you have to wait on.”