When God doesn't answer your prayers
Updated: Oct 16, 2019
My daughter stood in our family room and said, “God, make my dress bigger!”
She tightly closed her eyes, held her clenched fists at her sides and exclaimed, “He’s doing it! He’s doing it!”
When she opened her eyes and saw the same size dress she fell to the ground in screaming tears, “Why didn’t He do it?!?!”
I absolutely love and admire her bold faith.
Unanswered prayers can be one of the hardest parts about faith. At some point in time, everyone wonders why God leaves some prayers unanswered. Some those prayers are little--like please make my dress bigger. Some of those prayers are big--like please heal my mom. Little or big, unanswered prayers are hard for kids and for grown ups too!
When speaking at a MOPS group recently, one of the moms asked how she can explain this concept to her kids. Her son had prayed that he would have good dreams and when he awoke from a nightmare he wondered why God would let him have a bad dream when he prayed for a good one.
You guys, this is so hard! It’s so hard as a parent to explain disappointment to our kids. I never want my kids to be disappointed in God! But alas, this is a conversation we all must face, so here are some thoughts to help you:
God is not a Genie
The only genies I know are Robin Williams and Will Smith. God does not grant us wishes.
A lot of times we pray for something that we need or want right now, but God's timing is not our timing. So even if a prayer doesn't seem answered, that doesn't mean God is not moving. He's just moving at His perfect pace.
Remember that prayer is meant to be relational. God does not pop up at prayer time and grant us our wish. Instead, we communicate with God, listen for God, and spend time with God. Through this process our hearts can align with His and His will can become more clear. In the mean time, communion with God can provide us peace, hope, and joy while we wait on His answer.
Try saying something like this: "Prayer isn't meant to give us everything we want. Prayer helps us get to know God and talk to God. God cares about us and our requests, and He gives us what is best for us."
If you are feeling like your child only prays for things they want, try our Beach Ball Prayer Game. It is a fun way to encourage kids to pray in a variety of ways including: praise, please, confession, and blessing.
God is with us no matter what
Even Genie tells Aladdin to be careful with wishes because no matter what he wishes for, he cannot turn into a Prince. Genie can make Aladdin look like a Prince, but he can't change who Aladdin is.
You are a child of God. That is who you are and no unanswered prayer, no unanswered wish, no amount of disappoint can change that. You are a child of God no matter what and His love never changes.
It's important to remind our kids of this truth. God may lay out a different path for us than we would have planned and there may be some things that confuse or anger us, but God never leaves. He is with us and for us every step of the way.
Say something like this: "I know it's frustrating when our prayers don't get answered in the way we want. But God loves you and is always with you. You can always talk to Him, you can even tell him that you are feeling mad or sad! Do you want to talk to Him now?"
Track your prayers
A lot of us (kids and adults!) are visual learners. We are also very forgetful. Remember the Israelites? How frustrating are they in the Old Testament? God shows them miracle after miracle and they continue to forget and stop trusting Him. We do this too.
Try tracking your prayers with your kids. Get a notebook and make a family prayer journal. You can write down your prayers and then go back every few months and write down how God has answered some of your prayers.
To make this really easy, we have pages just for this in both our Preschool and Elementary-age Prayer Journals. Download those and keep them in a safe place. Let them be an encouragement to your kids that even though they can't see God at work, He is there!