Faith When Prayers Haven’t Been Answered

Woman worshiping with open arms or taking in the Autumn sun in a park.

Contributor: Ryan Moffat, BS, Teaching Pastor at Vast Church

Living in Central Oregon has some unbelievable advantages; majestic mountains and beauty, plus the endless days of sunshine. One major disadvantage however is the cell phone coverage. Unlike the concentrated metropolitan areas that have LTE coverage on every nook and corner, our rural community still has those “blackout zones” that struggle to hold calls.

There are at least two spots on my way to Costco that I know to NEVER attempt to call my wife to talk about anything important due to the coverage challenges in those spots. Here is what I have learned; I must be careful of my position before I attempt to share anything of substance with my wife, Michelle, because if my position is off I could lose her right in the middle of important information being shared.

There’s nothing more frustrating than starting a sentence, “Hey babe, you won’t believe this” only to have my carrier drop my call. It’s a third world problem but real nonetheless. I have concluded that my cell phone situation is a lot like prayer- a weak signal + bad position= frustration and ceaseless striving.

Jesus Teaches Us to Pray

Jesus was probably the best “prayer” that has ever lived…I mean, c’mon, he was God; he had to have been good at praying. He taught us in Matthew 6 how to pray.

Interestingly enough Jesus didn’t start his prayer out by telling the Father how bad his situations were (victim thinking), how other people had let him down (blame shifting), his financial woes (martyred-thinking) or when God was going to hook him up with a brand new house or job (elevated-thinking). He actually starts at a place that is counter-intuitive and counter-cultural to any other worldview or religious system that has ever existed;

Somersault on the Grass

“Our Father in Heaven, hallowed by your name. Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven”

-Jesus, Matthew 6

This is truly radical, revolutionary prayer. Here is what I mean:

#1. The Relational Nature of God:

God as Father is one of the most known yet least believed realities in all of the universe. Whether it’s because we have had poor earthly fathers or we just refuse to believe the idea of good, kind, benevolent Father this doctrine of the Fatherhood of God is one of the most neglected truths in the evangelical Church today.

We believe and teach God as judge, or God as King (both glorious truths to be held onto and taught today) but we rarely teach the kind of God who loves us like the perfect Dad. So instead of approaching God like a loving Father we keep going to him like he’s an angry boss. This leads to performance anxiety and eventually defeat; “Why even try when I know I’m going to fail?”

What if we had the audacity to believe and relate to, the God that Jesus prayed to? A God who is less like an absent step-dad and more like the perfect, kind, loving Father that the Bible presents him to be?

I actually believe that if we saw Him the way the Bible presents Him we would start praying differently…much differently. Instead of approaching God in prayer to try and appease him, maybe we would treat him the way my two year old daughter treats me when she simply wants to climb up onto my lap and spend time with her daddy.

#2. The God-Centeredness of True Prayer

What Jesus does next in this prayer is again nothing short of stunning. Whose kingdom, whose will, whose name? God’s, not ours! We live in an egotistical age that works overtime to insure us that we are at the center of our universe.

Forget the fact that such a worldview shrinks the scope of the universe and simultaneously shrinks our own soul just as long as people know that you’re #1! Jesus lovingly and blatantly puts God back in His rightful place and concurrently puts humanity back in it’s rightful place- under the authority of Father God.

Keeping a Strong Signal

I wonder if how much unanswered prayer is simply God turning a deaf ear to a whining child or simply saying “no” to the naïve child who wants nothing but candy for dinner. I wonder if we might come alive to the depth, wonder, beauty and power of prayer when we start thinking of it as a privilege (“I get to”) instead of a dutiful obligation (“I have to”).

Woman in PrayerI wonder if we started bringing our deepest longings, cravings, desires and passion to God instead of simply following our urges and paradoxically digging a bigger whole. I wonder what would happen if we saw God bigger than we saw our problems, our addictions and our short-term pacifying solutions.

Next time you feel the signal getting weak take the time and ask the question: Am I positioned correctly (As a child of God) and is my signal attuned to the kind of prayer Jesus prayed: a prayer for His name, His kingdom, His will?

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

How has your prayer life changed during addiction recovery?

About the Author:

Ryan received his BS in Bible and Theology and a minor in counseling from Multnomah University. He has pastored students, families and is passionate about Christ-centered recovery and healing.
He’s been married to his beautiful wife Michelle for 13 years and they enjoy raising four crazy, unique and special kids together. Ryan is the teaching pastor at Vast Church in Sisters, OR and is currently working on his Masters in Theology at Western Seminary in Portland, OR

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addiction. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on March 31st, 2015
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