Skip to comments.Following The Truth: Why Doesn’t God Answer My Prayers? (Catholic or Open)
Posted on 12/26/2011 9:04:02 AM PST by Salvation
September 18th, 2009 by Gary Zimak
Have you ever felt that God wasnt answering your prayers? Perhaps you have been praying for the conversion of a loved one, the physical healing of a close friend, a new job, a broken relationship, etc. Despite many prayers, the outcome wasnt what you expected. In some cases, you may have just given up and stopped praying. You may question the validity of Jesus words, Ask and you shall receive. Does prayer really make a difference or is it just something that makes us feel good? Lets take a look at prayer and why it is important that we not only pray, but pray without ceasing (1 Thes 5:17).
According to St. John Damascene, a 6th century bishop and doctor of the Church, Prayer is the raising of ones mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God. St. Thérèse of Lisieux stated, For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy. The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes Christian prayer as, a covenant relationship between God and man in Christ (CCC 2564). While we are most familiar with prayer of petition, the above statements make it obvious that there is more to prayer than merely asking God for something.
To put it in simple terms, prayer is a means of communicating and sharing with God. The Catechism discusses several different forms of prayer, including Blessing, Adoration, Petition, Intercession, Thanksgiving and Praise. While each of these methods of prayer uses a different approach, they all involve an encounter between God and man. Understanding that encounter will help us to better comprehend the meaning of prayer in our lives. Utilizing several of these methods will allow us to grow closer to the Lord, which is the ultimate objective of prayer. As we turn to the Lord in prayer, well begin to increase our desire for the things of Heaven and focus more on letting Gods will guide our lives.
must make time for prayer. Even if it means giving up 15-30 minutes of your leisure time some quiet time with the Lord is a necessity! Prayer doesnt have to be formal and it doesnt have to take place inside of a church. We can talk to Jesus like we would speak to any of our friends. He wants to know all of our worries and concerns. Conversing with the Lord should be the main foundation of our prayer life.
We can then build on that foundation by expanding our definition of prayer. Origen, one of the early Church fathers observed, He prays without ceasing who unites prayer to works and good works to prayer. Only in this way can we consider as realizable the principle of praying without ceasing. In other words, we can turn all of our work into prayer simply by offering it to the Father. The traditional Morning Offering provides an excellent means of offering our work to the Lord and can be said in less than a minute! By employing this technique, we are even able to pray while we work. While this form of prayer should never replace our quiet time with God, it provides us with a means to pray constantly throughout the day.
According to the Catechism , The habitual difficulty in prayer is distraction (CCC 2729). This is a problem common to all forms of prayer. Whether youre in a church, praying the rosary in your car or praying before the Blessed Sacrament, you will encounter distractions at some point. These distractions provide us, according to the Catechism, with an idea of what we are attached to (CCC 2729) and give us an opportunity to choose the Lord over the distraction. When these thoughts occur, we should simply turn our minds to God and continue praying. Another common difficulty that we may encounter is dryness, which is a lack of feeling when we pray. This is something that many of the saints struggled with and is best overcome by perseverance. We need to rely on our faith during these times and struggle to continue praying, no matter how we feel. Bouts of dryness provide us with an opportunity to love God for who He is, not for the good feeling that we may experience during prayer.
As mentioned earlier, one of the most common complaints when we pray is that God doesnt answer our prayers. This complaint usually occurs with prayers of petition and provides an honest look into the reality of our human nature. The Catechism puts things into perspective with the following comments:
In the first place, we ought to be astonished by this fact: when we praise God or give him thanks for his benefits in general, we are not particularly concerned whether or not our prayer is acceptable to him. On the other hand, we demand to see the results of our petitions. What is the image of God that motivates our prayer: an instrument to be used? or the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ? (CCC 2735).
When we pray, are we truly lifting our hearts to Almighty God or are we looking to get what we want? If we really trust in His will, we should be satisfied with whatever answer we receive. Our frustration arises when we think that we know better than God. We decide how our prayers should be answered and are not pleased when the Lords answer may differ from ours. While Jesus does promise that we will receive an answer when we ask (Mt 7:8), He doesnt promise that we will get what we ask for Instead, He promises that we will get what we need . Jesus assures us of this when He states, Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asks for a loaf of bread, or a snake when he asks for a fish? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask Him. (Mt 7:9-11) Still not convinced? Scripture gives us a very clear explanation for why we may not get what we request, You ask but do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. (James 4:3) We could save ourselves a lot of aggravation by accepting this advice and seeking to discern Gods will for our lives. In doing so, we would get a clearer idea of those things that God wants us to have.
Knowing Gods will for our lives can sometimes be difficult, but a few basic principles can be very helpful. For one thing, it would be wrong to pray for something that goes against a teaching of the Church. For example, praying for the success of in-vitro fertilization or an invalid marriage would not be examples of praying with Gods will in mind. God never wills anything that is prohibited by His Church. While He does respect our free will and permits us to do things that are not in line with the commandments, praying for sinful things is not an example of praying with Gods will in mind.
Second, we should append all of our prayer requests with, if it is your will. If we truly mean what we say, well have no problem accepting whatever God sends even if it wasnt what we asked for. The ultimate example of praying in this manner was given by Our Lord as he suffered in the garden prior to His arrest and crucifixion. His prayer shows us the art of praying in union with the will of the Father. My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will. (Mt 26:39)
While we do not know exactly why prayer is effective, we do know that it is important. Jesus instructed us to pray and prayed Himself on many occasions. The reason that it works is known only to God and is beyond our understanding. Our main concern should be that we continue to pray as often as possible. Most importantly, the next time that you are tempted to say that God doesnt answer your prayers, remember that He can answer in a few different ways Yes, No or Not yet are all valid answers! Therefore, when we complain that God doesnt answer our prayers, dont we really mean, God doesnt answer my prayers the way that I want?
Lord, help me to trust in your perfect will for my life. May I always be content with your answers to my prayers, even if I dont understand them. Amen.
Gary Zimak is the founder of Following The Truth Ministries (http://www.followingthetruth.com), a lay apostolate created to assist Catholics in learning more about their Faith. He is a regular guest on EWTN Radios Son Rise Morning Show, Ave Maria Radios Catholic Connection with Teresa Tomeo and appears frequently on several other Catholic radio programs. In addition to writing for CatholicLane. Mr. Zimak hosts a daily program on BlogTalkRadio and posts frequently on his blog, Facebook and Twitter. He is a member of Catholics United For The Faith and the Knights of Columbus and resides in New Jersey.
According to St. John Damascene, a 6th century bishop and doctor of the Church, Prayer is the raising of ones mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God. St. Thérèse of Lisieux stated, For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.
Sometimes, the answer is “NO”.
God answers my prayers. The answer is not always “yes.”
Or "Not yet"
Answers from God are “yes”, “no” and “later.”
And we may not like the “later” for that might lead to some suffering here on earth.
God is not in the business of giving you everything you ask for, and how absurd it would be were it otherwise.
Although I recall a Bible verse that definitely promises us one thing if we seek it and ask for it.
I was in a Catholic Church during a group prayer. After the prayers were over, a Priest came into the room & told us the group was praying too fast.
The Priest gave us some good prayer advice: God knows all the prayers. God knows what we want & what we need. When we pray we should slow down so we are able to >listen to God. One of the purposes of prayer is to give God the opportunity to transform our hearts.
Very true. I remember saying the Serenity Prayer about every five minutes after my husband died just to get me through the day.
The last line — “And the wisdom to know the difference.”
He knows our needs and desires of our hearts even before we know them, even before we pray them.
The prayer is a simple acknowledgement the He is the Father from whom all good things flow.
Other Translations of Isaiah 55:8
¶ For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your wayes my wayes, saith the Lord.
- King James Version (1611)
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways, declares the LORD.”
- New American Standard Version (1995)
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith Jehovah.
- American Standard Version (1901)
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, or your ways my ways, says the Lord.
- Basic English Bible
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, or your ways my ways, says the Lord.
- Darby Bible
For my thoughts are not your thoughts: nor your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
- Douay Rheims Bible
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
- Webster’s Bible
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says Yahweh.
- World English Bible
For not My thoughts [are] your thoughts, Nor your ways My ways, — an affirmation of Jehovah,
- Youngs Literal Bible
For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the LORD.
- Jewish Publication Society Bible
If we pray in Jesus’ name, it doesn’t mean we add those words at the end to make God the Genie do what we demand. To ask for something in someone’s name means to ask it on their behalf. It means that what you are asking will advance the goals and purpose of that other being - in this case, Jesus.
For myself, I’ve started dividing my prayers into two - those things I ask in Jesus’ name, and those I ask...well, because of my wants. I find that if I am honest, that first section is pretty short.
I also find it a bit enlightening to pray, “God, I don’t know if you want this or if it is just my sin nature poking through to the surface...” It changes my expectations entirely, and opens a dialog.
A very wise Priest once told me that is important when you pray to patiently discern God’s Will in the present moment, and that God does answer all prayers. No “ifs,” “ands” or “buts” about it.
“The reason that it works is known only to God and is beyond our understanding.” As children, we were taught that our intellects were feeble instruments when the situation involved divine intervention. Sounds right to me.
Augustinian predestinarianism was a lot more confusing, but that’s another issue.
**listen to God. **
Yes, listening to God is the part of prayer that many of us often forget.
Good advice in that last part.
I would like to open a prayer to God and just tell Him that I am open and listening for His voice and will in my life. Don’t ask for anything. Don’t ramble on and on.
Just listening quietly. I think it might prove interesting.
God does answer prayer - always. Perhaps it is your hearing that is not properly working.
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