Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanking God for Unanswered Prayers

At the same time the Spirit also helps us in our weakness, because we don’t know how to pray for what we need. But the Spirit intercedes along with our groans that cannot be expressed in words. The one who searches our hearts knows what the Spirit has in mind. 
The Spirit intercedes for God’s people the way God wants him to.
Romans 8:26-27 (God's Word Translation)

It's the week of Thanksgiving.  Every year at this time, we always hear tons of people thanking God for the prayers they've had answered in the past year.  You may be one of them.  And that's great--we should always thank God for our blessings.

But have you ever thanked God for the prayers He didn't answer?  I've always loved the words to this Garth Brooks song:

Just the other night at a hometown football game 
My wife and I ran into my old high school flame 
And as I introduced them the past came back to me 
And I couldn't help but think of the way things used to be 

She was the one that I'd wanted for all times 
And each night I'd spend prayin' that God would make her mine 
And if he'd only grant me this wish I wished back then 
I'd never ask for anything again 

Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers 
Remember when you're talkin' to the man upstairs 
That just because he doesn't answer doesn't mean he don't care 
Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers 

She wasn't quite the angel that I remembered in my dreams 
And I could tell that time had changed me 
In her eyes too it seemed 
We tried to talk about the old days 
There wasn't much we could recall 
I guess the Lord knows what he's doin' after all 

And as she walked away and I looked at my wife 
And then and there I thanked the good Lord 
For the gifts in my life 

Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers

It's interesting to think of it that way, isn't it?  I think about all the prayers I've said through the years.  The prayer to marry my high school boyfriend.  If that had been answered, I would never have met Dan, and had our three wonderful children.  There's the prayer to live in Minnesota at our first congregation forever.  If that had been answered, we wouldn't have moved to Wisconsin, where I've met some of the best friends of my life.  So many "unanswered" prayers that, looking back, were answered, just in God's own way.

When we pray, many of us are praying for a "yes" to our requests.  There are times, though, that God isn't ready to answer our requests.  Or maybe He is ready to answer, but the answer is not the one we were looking for.  As our Bible verse says, "The One who searches our hearts knows what the Spirit has in mind.  The Spirit intercedes for God's people the way God wants him to."  Sometimes we don't always know what is best for us.  But God always knows what's best for us.  He always knows, and He has a plan for us.  

So I'll be thanking God this Thanksgiving, for ALL of my prayers--both answered, and unanswered.

We pray:  Dear Heavenly Father, we praise You for all You have done for us.  You have given us so many blessings.  Help us to remember to be Thankful for all the answers to prayer You have given us.  Be with us, so that we can remember that it is not our will, but Thy will be done.  In Your name we pray, Amen.

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