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The Problem of Unanswered Prayer


The Problem of Unanswered Prayer


Many think God doesn't exist because their prayers weren't answered. Yet, we are warned in Scripture that if we have sin in our hearts, God will not hear our prayers (see Psa. 66:18; John 9:31; see also Prov. 28:9; Isa. 1:15). So rather than being disillusioned and thinking that God didn't exist, they should have repented and trusted the Savior, and their prayers would have then been answered.


My prayers are always answered. Sometimes I know that God has said "Yes," because He grants me my request. Sometimes I know that He has said "No" because He doesn't grant them. However, when I don't get an immediate response, I console myself with the thought that He may be saying, "Wait a moment." The Bible tells us that we inherit the promises of God through faith and patience. That doesn't come easy to the "give it to me now" generation that we have become. So "Yes," "No," and "Wait a minute" are all answers to prayer. They just may not be the answers we wanted.


But actually, the atheist has a problem with both unanswered and answered prayer. Here's a scenario that no doubt happens daily somewhere in the world. A young boy becomes deathly ill. The entire family gathers for prayer. However, despite earnest and sincere prayer, the child tragically dies. Their explanation for the death is that God took him to Heaven because He wanted the child there. That's seen by the atheist as "unanswered prayer." Or the child miraculously makes a recovery, which the family hails as an evident miracle. God obviously answered the family's prayers by saving the child from death. The atheist maintains that it wasn't answered prayer but that the child recovered because his body healed itself.


Was the recovery a miracle? Perhaps. Then again, perhaps it wasn't. Only God knows. The fact is that we have no idea what happened. However, one thing we do know is that answered or unanswered prayer has nothing to do with God's existence. Let me explain. My wife has a Dodge Caravan. Let's say it has a problem. What would be my intellectual capacity if I concluded that it had no manufacturer simply because I couldn't contact them about the dilemma? The fact of their existence has nothing to do with whether or not they return my calls.


Neither does God's existence have anything to do with the fact that there are those who have experienced miracles, seen visions, or supposedly heard His voice. The sun doesn't exist because we see its light, or because we feel its warmth. Its existence has nothing to do with any human testimony. Nor does it cease to exist because a blind man is not aware of its reality, or because it becomes cloudy, or the night falls. The sun exists, period.


God's existence isn't dependent on the Bible or its authenticity, the existence of the Church, the prophets, or even creation. God existed before the Scriptures were penned, before creation came into being. Even if the Bible was proved to be fraudulent, God would still exist.

Adamant atheist April Pedersen writes, "The human trait of seeking comfort through prayer is a strong one." This is true. However, April fails to see that human nature itself is very predictable. If men will not embrace the biblical revelation of God, their nature is to delve into idolatry. "Idolatry" is the act of creating a god in our image, whether it is shaped with the human hands (a physical "idol"), or shaped in the human mind through the imagination. Those who create their own god then use it as a "good-luck charm" to do their bidding. The idolater uses his god for his own ends. He calls on his god to win a football game, a boxing match, the lottery, or a war. Idolatry is as predictable as it is illogical.


Psalm 66:18 If I regard iniquity in my heart,

The Lord will not hear.