The title of this blog is a little deceiving, I’ll admit. The question of why God doesn’t answer prayer is a flawed question; in fact, all prayer is answered. You may have heard the answer’s either “yes, no, or wait.” I think that’s a little over-simplified! Ernest Holmes says
IF GOD EVER ANSWERED PRAYER, HE ALWAYS ANSWERS PRAYER, since He is “the same yesterday, today and forever.” If there seems to be any failure, it is in man’s ignorance and misunderstanding of the Will and Nature of God.
I’d like to share some things I have read recently that may shed a little more light on prayer. I believe we don’t get the answers we want for a few reasons. This isn’t a complete list or the ultimate treatise on prayer, just a few thoughts of today!
We think God is moody. Some of us have picked up some pretty strange beliefs from our upbringing. One of these is that God is a big, grumpy man up there somewhere, and some days he’s happy to oblige our requests, and some days he’s impossible to please. This is very unfortunate, and this personified view of God makes us think of him more like Grandpa that God. So we start to relate to God in this way, and treat him like an ordinary person. But God is a Force… Spirit… Love. Not a “being” to be pandered to. We work with God to create our reality; if our reality is something we are really unhappy with, we should think about why we made such a situation. We can’t just blame God and call him grumpy.
It would be difficult to believe in a God who cares more for one person than another. There can be no God who is kindly disposed one day and cruel the next; there can be no God who creates us with tendencies and impulses we can scarcely comprehend, and then eternally pushes us when we make mistakes. God is a Universal Presence, an impersonal Observer, a Divine and impartial Giver, forever pouring Himself into His Creation.
- Ernest Holmes, from The Science of Mind
We manipulate God. This activity one comes from point #1 — the belief that God is inconsistent makes us want to manipulate God like a Mighty Parent to get our way. This doesn’t work for so many reasons! I’ve been manipulated a little lately, and I’ve had the opportunity to see it very clearly for what it is — the person manipulating is doing it because he/she thinks they don’t have enough. It comes from a belief in lack, or sometimes injustice. Which leads me to think that we tend to manipulate God when we believe in lack in some aspect of ourselves or our lives. And as long as we believe in lack, or injustice, that’s what we’ll get.
We think God is far away. We plead and plead, pray the same thing over and over, sometimes getting physically louder and louder, when we believe that God is far away. He might not hear us! Nothing could be farther from the truth (forgive the pun)! There is absolutely no distance between you and God; Spirit is Omnipresent. God truly is everywhere, in everything and everyone. Perhaps if you’re repeating yourself and feeling like you aren’t being heard, it’ll help you to think more about God’s omnipresence, or perhaps you are repeating a prayer because you are trying to convince someone other than God — yourself. (That’s a topic for another day!)
So ultimately, if we feel God isn’t answering our prayer, the solution isn’t praying more or louder. It’s not as simple as needing more faith; take a look at your thoughts and attitudes that hinge on your faith. It could be you’re praying for something you already have (or already have the power to have, if only you will recognize it), like praying for happiness. If you get quiet and meditate, the answer will come to you. Rev. Patrick Cameron often says “I don’t know, but something within me does know” and I like that thought!