How “many times have you heard the phrase : “Thank God for Unanswered Prayers” and said to yourself “yeah, that is true, maybe that is not what I should have prayed for anyway” or “true that! if _____ had happened the way I prayed then I would not be happy like I am now!” . Let me play ‘devil’s advocate’ if you will-are these prayers really going unanswered….really? Maybe they are being answered, just not in the way we expect.
For years I used to pray in the following order: 1) always thank God for my blessings, 2) ask Him for what I needed, 3) ask for what my family needed, and 4) ask for what any other friends and acquaintances needed at the time (strength, patience, hope, good health, wisdom, the usual things) then thank Him again, say amen and I was done. It was similar to writing a letter to Santa: 1)make a list, 2) check it twice, and 3) send it to heaven believing He would always know what is best and answer my prayers as He saw fit. Since I was young this is the way I would pray; but recently my thoughts about this process have changed, and not just because of the prose in the photo.
Not long ago I read something-or maybe somebody told it to me me -or maybe I saw it on one of those gems of wisdom people post on Facebook-anyway it was a statement that got me thinking. It seems that God does answer all prayers-just not always in the way we expect. Bare with me here while I try to explain. First, we are here on this earth to learn, correct? How do we learn the best? By experience of course. As an anesthesiologist once told me when I was learning how to perform a procedure-“see one , do one, teach one, that is the best way to learn anything!” So why would we ever think that God, the Master Teacher, would ever just hand us the answers? Doesn’t it make more sense that He would provide lessons based in experience that so we gain those things (patience, strength, wisdom, success) we are praying for? For example I prayed for patience and strength when I learned that my daughter was using heroine; patience so that I would not go crazy when things were not improving the way I thought they should and strength to get through the horrible experiences that her drug use was causing-like losing our grand kids (another story for another time). Well, those two virtues have not been handed to me on a silver platter; instead I have learned patience through praying, meditating, all while having faith that everything will be OK someday. Patience came when I finally started taking things one day at a time rather than trying to fix all the problems all at once making everything OK for everyone. The strength came when I woke up every morning to a new day and realized that these experiences were not going to kill me but actually made me stronger. Learning that my soul was strong enough to take all these horrible times with a grain of salt and smile at my grandchildren and enjoy what time I do get with them; or the strength to see the good in a day when I really felt like crying. Eventually that strength became real. I no longer weep day in and day out; I am able to live in the moment and enjoy it without feeling guilty that my children’s lives are not all roses and rainbows like I dreamed. These are lessons I am learning every day and will never forget; patience and strength are becoming a part of me with practice and are getting as easy as typing these words. So, is it about as clear as mud now?
There you have it; the idea that we thank God for unanswered prayers is really kind of mis-leading. Maybe in the short term the prayers are unanswered; however when you look at the big picture the prayers are being answered all along, just in ways that are unexpected. All feedback and comments are welcome here; sharing is learning!