Why does it seem that sometimes my prayers go unanswered?

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Sometimes God says nothing.

There are times when we hear nothing. We know that there is no partiality with God; he doesn't play favorites (Deut. 10:17). Yet, in the silence, we can almost hear the enemy of our souls say God has forgotten us; we don't matter. At these times, we need to remember that God's ways are not our ways and his thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Isa. 55:9). We trust, seeing nothing, hearing nothing.

The more we learn about God, the more we see he is trustworthy. Our faith can't grow unless we are relying on God for something bigger than us. Proverbs 3:5 says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding." Instead we lean heavily on our own understanding, trusting we'll figure things out.

Edith Schaeffer told a story in her book Affliction. She imagined in heaven a place where saints would be recognized for their areas of trusting God. For example, if Satan asked God, "Has anyone trusted you with their finances?," there, in a designated place, someone would be displayed as a person who trusted God for their needs. That person undoubtedly believed that God meant what he said in Philippians 4:19.

The areas we trust God for may differ, but the end result will be the same. We will be transformed into the Son's image. God uses different experiences to grow us. As baby Christians, our trials are baby-sized. As we grow, so do our trials.

Author and preacher Charles Swindoll once said we look at our lives the wrong way. We look at trials as the exception, but trials are the normal part of a Christian life.

So, what do we do when heaven is silent? We can become still and remember God is still God. We can praise him for who he is, almighty, all-knowing, all-powerful. We can ponder what he has done for us in the past and thank him for what he is doing in our lives now, even though it is unseen to us. We can thank him for what he is doing in or despite the situation. God is not limited by our circumstances. With God all things are possible (Matt. 19:26).

There will be times you'll pray and God will immediately answer. There will be times you will need to wait for the answer he'll graciously provide. And then there will be those times when you hear nothing and can lean hard on God. Each of those scenarios is God-chosen for you—chosen by a God who counts the hairs on your head, knows when a sparrow falls, and sings to us.

When we pray and heaven is silent, then we need to get silent too. We need to be still and know that he is God, and thank him for the opportunity to trust him.

Anne Peterson is a poet, speaker, and freelance author. Visit Anne at facebook or at annepeterson.com, where you can read her blog and listen to her poetry.

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