Unanswered Prayers

(From a sermon of Bro. Julius Adewumi, 4/18/97)

I will like to point out from the bible some great men of God who had some unanswered prayers. This is for our admonition so that we may have the right attitude towards God when it seems one prayer of ours is not answered. These great men of God did not charge God foolishly and they did not forsake God when the prayer was unanswered. Actually they received a NO from God concerning their petition. In that they were able to hear from God shows how close they were to God. When God rejected their request, the great thing about these men, is that they did not forsake God. They had a good attitude about it. This is what we must learn.

So when we have prayers that is not answered we should not be disappointed. We should perhaps ask ourselves, "is this request in the will of God?"

It is not that these great men of God could not reach God. They said their requests directly to God and He did not do it for them. That is what we are going to point out here. We will need to pray for the body of Christ because it is very possible when some believers run into a situation and their prayers are not answered they begin to lose their faith in God. Never lose your faith in God. The scriptures say "Cast not away therefore your confidence which has great recompence of reward". (Heb. 10:35 ). Also the scriptures say "In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." (1Thes.5:17 ). Here are three examples:

Moses:

In exodus chapter 4:10, Moses said he was slow to speak. Maybe he was a stammerer. If he was to speak, he would pause and pause to get the words out. If anybody has this impediment in the speech, the desire of the person will be "if I can only get to where God is, the first thing I will ask him to do for me is to fix my tongue." Just think of it. If you ran into the miracle working God one day, what will be the greatest desire of your heart, if you have an impediment born with you, which only God can fix. That was the impediment in Moses's life. Maybe everyone laughed at him when he was growing up as a stammerer. He would desire to see the Creator and ask Him to fix it. Wouldn't he? Now, right there in exodus chapter four, Moses ran into the Creator, and God told him to go do a work for God. After Moses first gave some excuses why he wouldn't go, and those excuses were rejected, he remembered that he was slow to speak. And he spake to the Lord about it: "And Moses said unto the Lord, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue." (Exo.4:10).

He was actually requesting the Lord to fix it. He was saying, "O Lord, even after talking to you I am still like that -- slow of tongue." God could have said "well I will just fix that", and with one touch it would be done. No! God did not fix it. Think about that! It is a small thing for God to do, but he didn't. Theologians can give many reasons why God would not do it the way it was asked, but that is not the point here. I simply want to show that great men in the bible have had occasions when their prayers or direct requests were not granted by the sovereign God. So that we may have courage. Listen to God's reply to Moses:

"And the Lord said unto him, Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord?

Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say." (Exo. 4:11-12). But Moses more or less said "send somebody else".

"And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses, and he said, Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well. "

Instead for God to fix his mouth so that he could speak eloquently, God said, "I will just give somebody to be thy interpreter." Was it too difficult for God to send a flash of Holy fire to touch Moses' tongue and fix it while he was standing before God on that day? No! But God did not grant the request for whatever reason. This is what first caught my attention that there were unanswered prayers in the scriptures even of men who stood in the presence of God.

Moses' attitude? he went anyway when God said Aaron would take the place of Moses's mouth.

Another example of Moses's prayer which was not granted by God is in deuteronomy. Imagine Moses, being such a great man of God; God also bearing witness that He talked with Moses face to face. Moses was able to intercede for the Hebrews when God wanted to wipe them out because of their sin. Such a great intercessor who made God changed his mind so that the Hebrews were not destroyed. Could such person pray and God refused to do it?

Moses said "O Lord God, thou hast begun to shew thy servant thy greatness, and thy mighty hand: for what God is there in heaven or in earth, that can do according to thy works, and according to thy might?" He was even praising God, and he said:

"I pray thee, let me go over, and see the good land that is beyond Jordan, that goodly mountain, and Lebanon." (Deut.3:24-25).

Remember the story when Moses struck the rock twice instead of speaking to the rock at the waters of Meribah, and God said, Moses and Aaron would not enter the land. Now Moses was trying to intercede for himself saying "let me go over I pray thee; what a wonderful thing you have begun to show to us."

"But the Lord was wroth with me for your sakes, and would not hear me: and the Lord said unto me, Let it suffice thee; speak no more unto me of this matter. Get thee up into the top of Pisgah, and lift up thine eyes westward, and northward, and southward, and eastward, and behold it with thine eyes: for thou shalt not go over this Jordan."(Deut.3:26-27).

Moses who was so close to God: he spoke face to face with God, which nobody has ever done like that since then. Yet he made this appeal for himself, and God said "don't talk any more about this matter". It is settled! Theologians can always look for excuses or that God doesn't change his mind: God has said it, and it is finished. Well, God told Moses he was going to destroy the Hebrews, and Moses interceded and God changed his mind. This is an unanswered prayer. But the attitude of this man was that he went along with it. When God said "No", he had to concur.

David:

King David was another great man of God who had an unanswered prayer. Many times we tell folks that when their prayers are not answered, it is because they are not getting through to heaven with their requests. From these cases you should realize that it is not always the reason. These men were in the presence of God and they made the request, but God refused to do it. Before we open our mouth God has already known what we want to ask. God may refuse to grant it though. Ofcourse there are many other reasons why prayers may not be answered.

In 2Sam.12, David was praying for his child. This was the child born out of the adultery of David with Bathsheba. When God pronounced the judgment through the prophet Nathan that the baby would die, immediately David went upon his knees to intercede for the baby when he was smitten with a sickness. (v.16-17).

"David therefore besought God for the child and David fasted ; and went in and lay all night upon the earth." I mean, if there was any way to intercede, David did it. There was no other way, but to get off the throne, put on sackcloth, lay on the earth, repenting: saying, I know I caused it, but thou art merciful O, Lord. He was fasting for days. "And the elders of his house arose, and went to him, to raise him up from the earth: but he would not, neither did he eat bread with them."

He fasted for seven days. Think about that! King David, a man after God's own heart, could fast for seven days for one request, and it be not granted? You may say God could have said " okay, the baby won't die, but you will still suffer the other punishments". God could have done that, but No! After seven days of the sickness, the baby died. When David saw that his servants were whispering, he perceived that the baby perhaps was dead. (v.19-20) " .. therefore David said unto his servants, Is the child dead? And they said, he is dead. Then David arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed himself, and changed his apparel, and came into the house of the Lord, and worshipped: then he came to his own house; and when he required, they set bread before him, and he did eat."

His attitude was that "let's just worship the Lord." He didn't say "this God, I thought you always answer prayers?" See a right attitude of David? Even after seven days fasting for one request, and still did not get it.

But David went and worshipped the Lord. Yea , Job said "though he slays me, yet will I trust him". That is the attitude of those who know the ways of the Lord, and love the Lord.

Paul:

Another example is in the life of Apostle Paul. He himself said it in 2Cor.12.:8-10. Yea, the people who are close to God are the people who may receive "NO" to their requests sometimes. The infirmities of paul, mentioned in this chapter have been theorized and denied many times by theologians. But Paul called it "a servant of Satan that buffet him". What ever it is, Paul said "For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness."

Let's see Paul's attitude in verse 9 & 10. "Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong."

When I was about to round up this study, the Lord reminded me of Luke 22. This is another example of an unanswered prayer. In Luke chapter 22, the Lord Jesus himself gave us an example. If nobody else can turn things around, the Messiah can. But this example shows to us that some things may not be turned around for God's own reason. In this case is where the Lord Jesus was on his knees before the crucifixion, and was saying "Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done." (Lk.22:42).

We can remember when the Lord came to raise up Lazarus. He didn't need to pray. He simply said "Father I thank thee that thou hast heard me..." . Then he called "Lazarus, come forth". And here, he was praying the hardest anyone will ever pray: "remove this cup from me; nevertheless ..": That is the attitude we are talking about! "Nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done". In Mark's gospel it was written much stronger. (Mk.14:36). "And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee. " What prayer can be stronger than that? And we know he is God manifested in the flesh. "Abba Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt."

This is something we should think about. Sometimes there may be an unanswered prayer. We may say some of these prayers were not in the will of God. Whatever is the reason, the Lord Jesus Christ gave us a perfect example here. When he said, "remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done." Let the Lord's will be done. Our attitude is what we must watch. There may be some times when there will be some unanswered prayers. We must however say, "not my will, but thine be done."

To balance this message, we must remember, the word of God is clear in certain respect. Some things are freely given to us by God. Some things are clearly meant to be at the decree of the holy people. However James wrote that some requests may be amiss: "Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts." (James 4:2-3).

After saying these, we must remember that some great men of God left us with some ungranted requests, yet they did not charge God foolishly. In similar situations, we need a good attitude in response to such disappointment.

Many Saints have prayed for supernatural power of God to come to them. They want to choose what ministration they want God to use them for. Often times they do not receive the power they ask for. Perhaps they ask amiss. We ought to say always "nevertheless, not my will, but thine, be done."

May the Lord give every believer the grace to be able to say like Job "though he slays me yet will I trust him." (Job 13:15). Or, may we be able to say like the Lord Jesus "nevertheless, not my will, but thine, be done." Amen.

Bro. Julius Adewumi,

Gospel Distribution Ministry