Some of God’s greatest blessings may be in unanswered prayers. That may not be theologically correct…exactly. Unanswered prayer is what we are feeling sometimes, not the reality of what is happening in the heavenlies. There are many Biblical references that substantiate that God hears every prayer and knows every intent and motive in our hearts. It’s just that when we do not experience any outward sign of our petition that we think that perhaps God did not hear. But because He loves us in a deeper way than we can comprehend, sometimes He holds back. It is restrained grace.
Sometimes our prayers are focused on the surface – changes that we believe would make our lives go on a little easier. The requests no doubt line up with God’s will. We pray for people in our lives and the choices made that cause them harm, ourselves included. But sometimes it is in the waiting, the longing, even the suffering that His restrained grace has it’s full effect.
The Apostle Paul, when going through a troubling time wrote these words:
We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves, and learned to rely only on God…We placed our confidence in Him, and He will continue to rescue us. II Corinthians 1:8-9a,10b
Our lives are messy. God is not any less loving than the parent or grandparent that steps back and allows the learning to take place, knowing it is for our ultimate good. God’s plans and purposes are so much deeper than ours, and His restrained grace is always full of meaning and care.
In Psalm 77 the writer lamented:
When I was in deep trouble, I searched for the Lord. All night long I prayed, with hands lifted toward heaven, but my soul was not comforted.”
But later in the Psalm when the writer regained his composure and insight he wrote:
But then I recall all you have done, O Lord; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago. They are constantly in my thoughts. I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works.
Both the Apostle Paul and the Psalmist recognized the mind game that unanswered prayer seems to be. However God doesn’t play mind games. It is a mental and emotional challenge for us and step of obedience for us to accept with trust His restrained grace for our good and His glory. Paul in his troubled time learned to rely on God. The Psalmist comprehended the importance of mentally reviewing how God had been faithful in the past and his thought patterns changed as a result. He was able to see that, this too, is still in the hands of the Almighty.
May that which concerns your heart be committed to His restrained grace, and may you experience that day when the tears are ended with the night and you know the full joy of the morning. Hang in there.