Why isn't God answering my prayer?

by Emily Vanden Heuvel

Right after the New Year, about ten years ago, My mother died of heart disease at the age of 58. Several months before she died, we prayed daily that she would be healed. As we watched her get weaker, we kept praying and hoping for restoration. My mother loved Jesus, and her faith gave her great peace as her body became more and more frail. She would often remind me that when we pray for healing, God always listens and responds—just not always in the way we want or expect.

My mother died, but she did receive healing and restoration—just not the way we envisioned. In heaven, she is whole—without sin, without a broken body, and without pain—and stands fully restored. But I never got to see her healed on earth.

I don't have a good answer for why God answered my prayers for my mother in a way I didn’t want. Over the years, I can remember many times my prayers didn't turn out the way I asked. Does it mean that I didn't pray hard enough? No. Does it mean I had some “hidden sin” in my life cutting me off from God? No. Does it mean that God ignored me? No. God always listens and answers, even when I don’t see it or understand it. When I feel confused, I have to lean into my faith and trust God’s plan.

I’ve found that Psalm 30 shows a number of good ways to respond to God when we don’t get what we pray for.


We respond with hope (Psalm 30:1-5). When disappointment overwhelms us, or we feel ignored, it can be helpful to recall the ways God has cared for us. Where have you seen God’s work in your life? In creation? In a relationship? In provision for your needs? Is there a song or a passage of scripture that gives you hope? When grief is crushing, remember that he cares for us (Matthew 6:25-34). When we respond with hope, we pray with confidence that God is listening even when it’s not an answer we want.


We respond with honesty (Psalm 30:6-10). We can tell God exactly what’s bothering us. We don’t need to hide our sin from him. What tops your list of sorrows? In frank words, tell them to God. He is with you in your sorrow; God listens to your cries, questions, and confusion. God wants us to give all of our concerns to him (1 Peter 5:7). He promises to never leave us or abandon us. When your heart is breaking, cry out to God.


We respond with thankfulness (Psalm 30:11-12). God will replace our grief with joy (Psalm 30:11). While we wait for God to make all things new, we keep praying with thankfulness that God always has our best interests in mind.

Rejoice in the morning

It’s no easy feat to pray with a broken heart. May you have the courage to persevere as you cry out to God and trust in his plan. Face each night with confidence in God; rejoicing comes in the morning.

Do you have a prayer that you are waiting for God to answer? Will you share it with the Prayer Team?