Psalm 13:1 “How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” 13:5 “But I trust in your unfailing love….”
Unanswered prayer is draining. It saps my energy. It confuses me. Especially when I’m praying for things that appear to be in God’s will…for a marriage not to end in divorce, for a hard heart to repent, for an unjust decision to be reversed. Sometimes I feel like my requests end up being the victim of some celestial delete button. I wrestle over my ledger of defeat, and like the psalmist I cry out, “How long, Lord?”
That’s when I have to stop and remember there’s another side to the ledger. A whole stockpile of answered prayers exists to counter the ones I deem “unanswered.” This side of the ledger reminds me I always have something to be thankful for. The power of gratitude leads me back to the truth. When I can’t see what God is doing, I can still count on who he is.
For the psalmist, one simple statement canceled out his litany of despair. He voided his ledger of unanswered prayers as he recalled the character of God: “But I trust in your unfailing love.” He didn’t experience a revelation as to why there was no answer. Nothing indicated how much longer he would have to wait or whether he would even receive an answer at all. He simply remembered God’s unfailing love could be trusted. And that was enough.
Knowing why some prayers are answered and some are not will most likely remain a mystery while we live on the earth. It’s how we deal with the mystery that affects us so deeply. When we feel forsaken, but still choose to pray, to trust, to obey, we grow into the sort of man or woman God purposes us to be.
Satan would like nothing better than have us fix our eyes on the wrong side of the ledger. What’s the use of praying? Your faith isn’t strong enough. Why risk further disappointment? Don’t buy it. Jesus tells us to pray. And he tells us prayer makes a difference.
So the next time it seems all your prayers are being relegated to the “unanswered” column, pull out your ledger and start making a new list on the other side.