Unanswered Prayers? {my sermon transcript from October 3,2020}

Do you ever feel like God doesn’t hear or answer your prayers? Have you ever felt as if He’s forsaken you? Has it ever felt like your prayers go no higher than your ceiling? Does it ever feel like it’s totally pointless to pray anymore?

I’ll admit: I’ve been there. More truthfully, I am there now. It hasn’t always been this way for me.
When I was a teenager, I would carry on conversations with God all throughout the day, as with a friend. I felt His presence. No, my life wasn’t always trouble-free, but at least I felt a strong connection with our Heavenly Father.

Ellen White wrote, in Steps to Christ, a whole chapter called, The Privilege of Prayer. On page 93 she wrote: Prayer is the opening of the heart to God as to a friend. Not that it is necessary in order to make known to God what we are, but in order to enable us to receive Him. Prayer does not bring God down to us, but brings us up to Him.


As a part of religious service singing is as much an act of worship as is prayer. Indeed, many a song is prayer. Child Guidance, 523.
In my early twenties, a life-changing event occurred, which greatly altered my connection with God. The sin I committed seemed to drive me far from God. In my head, I know God forgives, and has forgiven that sin. But my heart still has doubts that He could forgive me. I’m not even sure I have forgiven myself, either.

At least I have continued “going through the motions” all these years. Sadly, it feels as if many of my most urgent prayers have gone unanswered, or unheard. Many days I feel as if God doesn’t really see or care about my life.

Some of the events which have greatly impacted my life are: three failed marriages; moves across the country; having my children taken away (I think we all suffer from PTSD now, from that horror); my daughter being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Several years ago, I nearly lost my mother; more recently I almost lost my father.

Throughout those times, I prayed. But it seemed God didn’t hear. I prayed for God to protect my children. I prayed for God to improve the relationship of my second husband with my oldest son. I prayed for restored marriages. I prayed for godly father figures for my children. I prayed for friends, for myself and my younger two sons, when we lived in Mississippi. I prayed for opportunities to go retrieve some of our possessions from Mississippi (which a majority of our “stuff” is still there!). I’ve prayed for child support to continue for Steven; for spousal support from the third husband.
Nearly 3 years ago, my second firstborn son moved 1000+ miles away, a few days shy of a month past his 18th birthday. It was as if a piece of my heart was ripped from my chest. I couldn’t breathe. Sadly, I was plunged into a deep, dark hole of depression.

I still tried to pray for a godly father figure, and for friends, for my youngest son. I’ve tried to pray for guidance in helping my youngest with his high school education.

Sad to say, I have reached a point now that I don’t really try to pray anymore. I ask my prayer warrior friends to pray for me, for some of these circumstances we face, because I don’t feel like God hears me.

Like I said, I still go through the motions, though. I continue having daily private devotions, Bible reading time (rather, I listen to the Bible via YouVersion.), and reading the Conflict of the Ages series. If you are friends with me on Facebook or Instagram, yes, you may have noticed I share a daily scripture, and most days even a daily prayer. And if you read my blog, you will see that I share a weekly devotional, on Sabbath.

So, are my prayers unheard? Unanswered? Does God even care about me, or my family?

Logistically, my brain tells me: Yes, God cares. Yes, God answers prayers. Yes, He hears our prayers. But deep in my heart, I find it a challenge to believe.

Which reminds me: a couple weeks ago, we borrowed the movie, I Still Believe, from the library. It’s the story of Jeremy Camp, and his first wife who died from cancer.
Right after Melissa died, Jeremy was talking with his dad:

Dad? Can I ask you a question?


I remember I prayed and prayed in this room for Josh to be born healthy. It didn't happen.

And you prayed for so long for your ministry. Still nothing.

Dad, I begged God to heal Melissa. What am I supposed to do with that?

His father responded: Are you asking if Josh's disabilities were disappointing? Yes, they are.

Did I have big dreams that didn't come true? Sure.

Do I understand why Melissa isn't here anymore? No, son, I don't. I'm sorry.

But I know my life is full. I feel rich, and I'm proud of this family.

Honestly, at the time, I didn't agree with what you did. I didn't understand it. You chose willingly to walk into the fire with her. Right beside her, all the way to the end.

But then, that's exactly what I would do for your mom and you boys. That's what love is. And I got to watch my son do that. For his wife. That was a privilege.

I don't know the answers to your questions. But I do know this, that my life is not full in spite of
the disappointments. It's full because of them. I'm proud of you.

Jeremy responded: I love you, Dad.

This reminds me of Habakkuk 3:17-19:

Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls:
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.
The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.
So, even when it seems like God doesn’t hear or answer my prayers, He wants me to rejoice in Him. Is that easy to do? Emphatically, NO! But is it something He requires us to do, YES!

Psalm 138 says:
I will praise thee with my whole heart: before the gods will I sing praise unto thee. I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name. In the day when I cried thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul. All the kings of the earth shall praise thee, O Lord, when they hear the words of thy mouth. Yea, they shall sing in the ways of the Lord: for great is the glory of the Lord. Though the Lord be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly: but the proud he knoweth afar off. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me. The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands.

We read verses such as: 

And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it. John 14:13, 14.

The Lord is disappointed when His people place a low estimate upon themselves. He desires His chosen heritage to value themselves according to the price He has placed upon them. God wanted them, else He would not have sent His Son on such an expensive errand to redeem them. He has a use for them, and He is well pleased when they make the very highest demands upon Him, that they may glorify His name. They may expect large things if they have faith in His promises, Ellen White reminds us in The Desire of Ages, page 668.

And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. 1 John 5:14, 15.

Faith is an essential element of prevailing prayer. “He that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” “If we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us: and if we know that He hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him.” With the persevering faith of Jacob, with the unyielding persistence of Elijah, we may present our petitions to the Father, claiming all that He has promised. The honor of His throne is staked for the fulfillment of His word. Prophets and Kings, 157, 158

We are also told:

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? Matthew 7:7-11.

We also know that God answers our prayers with different responses. Sometimes He says Yes. Sometimes He says No. Sometimes He says Not right now; wait awhile. Sometimes He says, Hold on; I have something much better in mind for you!

So, why does it feel like God isn’t listening? That He doesn’t hear?

Steps to Christ, page 94, says:
The darkness of the evil one encloses those who neglect to pray. The whispered temptations of the enemy entice them to sin; and it is all because they do not make use of the privileges that God has given them in the divine appointment of prayer. Why should the sons and daughters of God be reluctant to pray, when prayer is the key in the hand of faith to unlock heaven’s storehouse, where are treasured the boundless resources of Omnipotence? Without unceasing prayer and diligent watching we are in danger of growing careless and of deviating from the right path. The adversary seeks continually to obstruct the way to the mercy seat, that we may not by earnest supplication and faith obtain grace and power to resist temptation.

Remember: If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. 1 Chronicles 7:14.
We need to humble ourselves, and pray. Only then will God hear our prayers, forgive our sins, heal our land. Our land certainly needs that healing right now, doesn’t it?

Psalm 80:3-7 says: Turn us again, O God, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved. O Lord God of hosts, how long wilt thou be angry against the prayer of thy people? Thou feedest them with the bread of tears; and givest them tears to drink in great measure. Thou makest us a strife unto our neighbours: and our enemies laugh among themselves. Turn us again, O God of hosts, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved. 

My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise. Awake up, my glory; awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake early. I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people: I will sing unto thee among the nations. For thy mercy is great unto the heavens, and thy truth unto the clouds. Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: let thy glory be above all the earth, Psalm 57:7-11 tells us.
Our first work each morning should be to come to God in prayer, as Steps to Christ, page 70 says: Consecrate yourself to God in the morning; make this your very first work. Let your prayer be, “Take me, O Lord, as wholly Thine. I lay all my plans at Thy feet. Use me today in Thy service. Abide with me, and let all my work be wrought in Thee.” This is a daily matter. Each morning consecrate yourself to God for that day. Surrender all your plans to Him, to be carried out or given up as His providence shall indicate. Thus day by day you may be giving your life into the hands of God, and thus your life will be molded more and more after the life of Christ. 

We are promised in Psalm 147:3-5:
He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds. He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names. Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite. 

We are told in The Desire of Ages, page 329:
He is watching over you, trembling child of God. Are you tempted? He will deliver. Are you weak? He will strengthen. Are you ignorant? He will enlighten. Are you wounded? He will heal. The Lord “telleth the number of the stars;” and yet “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.” “Come unto Me,” is His invitation. Whatever your anxieties and trials, spread out your case before the Lord. Your spirit will be braced for endurance. The way will be opened for you to disentangle yourself from embarrassment and difficulty. The weaker and more helpless you know yourself to be, the stronger will you become in His strength. The heavier your burdens, the more blessed the rest in casting them upon the Burden Bearer. 
So, I will just continue to wait for His answers...
(Close with prayer)

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