By David J. Stewart
Here is an excellent quote from the mighty preacher and man of God, Brother Lester Roloff, concerning unanswered prayers . . .
The thing that will reveal your faith is praying when no answer comes. That's the supreme test. I've gone over a number of chapters in the book of Job again. In one of them, Job said, "Oh that I knew where I might find Him." He was looking for God. Can you imagine? He was the best man God had and he couldn't find Him. He said "Lord, I want you to show me why you're doing this to me. We've always been on good terms and you've been my best friend. I'm not against you and am not going to turn against you, but I need an explanation and I want you to give it." But the Lord didn't pay him any attention. I imagine the Lord just kind of smiled and said, "Later on. After a while."
So finally Job said "I went forward and He wasn't there. Backward. I couldn't perceive Him. On the left hand where He doth work. I couldn't behold Him. On the right hand where He hid himself and I couldn't see him." That's all the directions isn't it? Forward, backward, left, right. He said "I couldn't get one glimpse of Him." Then he said, "But He knoweth the way that I take and when He hath tried me, He will bring me forth as gold. My feet have held His steps. His way have I kept and not declined. Neither have I gone back from the commandment of His lips. I've esteemed His words more than my necessary food." That's the secret of it right there. It was the most severe test he ever had. It wasn't when all of his ten children died. It wasn't when he lost all of his camels, oxen and sheep and goats and chickens. It wasn't when he lost all of his servants. The greatest loss was not when Mrs. Job came and said, "Just curse God and die." That wasn't his most severe test. That was just part of it.
Then three fair-weather friends came and looked at him and they didn't speak for seven days. Not one word. Finally they opened their mouths and skinned him and scalded him and scathed him and ate him up alive. But that wasn't his greatest test. Do you know what the greatest test was? You've never been there until you've reached this place, and that is when you look up to God and there's not any God. You just pray like you used to pray and there's no answer. There's no response. There's no God. There's no feeling and your faith is severely tested. But let me tell you something. You're going to have to learn to believe God when you cannot perceive God. You're going to have to learn to "faith" Him when you can't feel Him. Unless you do, you're going to be in bad shape before this thing's over with. There'll come a time when God reserves the right to cut you completely loose from Him and then see what your faith will lead you to do. "In all this, Job sinned not nor charged God foolishly."
SOURCE: Brother Lester Roloff, from the sermon titled, Something Everybody Can Do
UNANSWERED PRAYERS IN THE BIBLE
In the Bible are a few examples of prayers that were not answered. Usually God responded to the one praying, but refused the request. These are good examples to teach us how to pray effectively.
* King Saul prayed for guidance but God did not answer him. Saul had pronounced a curse on any of his army who ate before evening. Jonathan, unaware of the curse, had eaten. The lesson for us is we should be very careful about making vows. 1st Samuel 14:37; Ecclesiastes 5:1-7.
* King Saul prayed for help and guidance. Saul had removed so far from God that He no longer answered Saul's prayers. Saul then sought an answer through a medium. 1st Samuel 28:6,7.
* David prayed for the life of his son. The son died because of David's sin with Bathsheba. 2nd Samuel 12:13-23. Lesson for us - sin has its consequences.
* Elijah prayed that he might die. God had much more work for Elijah to do so it was not in God's will for Elijah to die at that time. In the end Elijah didn't die but was caught up into heaven by a whirlwind. 1st Kings 19:4; 2nd Kings 2:11.
* Jonah prayed that God would take his life as it was better to die than to live. God does not answer this type of prayer for there is a time to die and we must wait for God's timing not ours. Also, Jonah had yet to accomplish the work God sent him to do. Jonah 4:3.
* King Zedekiah prayed for help in defeating Nebuchadnezzar. God's answered that He would not help because of the many sins of Israel. Jeremiah 21:2.
* The disciples James and John with their mother requested the highest rank in the kingdom Jesus was to establish. Jesus' answer was that this position was not His to give. But, they first were to be servants of one another before greatness would be given them. Mark 10:34-45.
* Jesus prayed, "May this cup be taken from me." He also prayed, "Your will be done." It was the Father's will that Jesus drink the cup of suffering for the sins of the world. Matthew 26:36-46; Philippians 2:5-8; Hebrews 2:9; 12:2,3; 13:12,13.
* Paul prayed that his "thorn in the flesh" be removed. Paul's thorn was not removed, so that Christ would be glorified, not himself, and to keep him from becoming proud. 2nd Corinthians 12:7-10.
Spiritual Food for Thought
One of the most beautiful stories in the Bible is the book of Esther. God is not mentioned once throughout the entire book. Yet, we see God's divine hand of providence at work. My mother used to often say that “God works in mysterious ways,” which is certainly evidenced throughout the story of Esther.
The story is amazing and shows how Romans 8:28 works out in the end for the believer . . . “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Notice that Romans 8:28 DOESN'T say all things will be good; rather, it says that all things will work together for good to those who are saved. No one likes to eat Baking Powder by itself or salt, or flour; but if you mix them all together in the correct proportions and put it into the oven, you'll get a delicious cake to eat.
Likewise, no Christian enjoys the trials, tribulations, physical pain, disappointments, loneliness, heartaches, tragedies and problems of this life; but God has a purpose for our life and will use everything in our life, good and bad alike, for His glory to make it all work out for good in the end. This is what God has PROMISED to each believer. So keep on praying, even when no answer comes. Keep on soulwinning and serving the Lord. Keep on rejoicing that your name is written in Heaven. Have faith in God.
John 16:20, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.”