No Unanswered Prayers
Ng Wee Keong
In “PRAYING – Finding Our Way from Duty to Delight” by J.I. Packer and Carolyn Nystrom, the authors wrote:
“… It is important for us frankly to recognise that there is no such thing as an unanswered prayer from a child of God … our heavenly Father, perfect as He is in wisdom, reserves the right to answer our pleas for help in the best way and at the best time."
For example when Paul pleaded that his thorn in the flesh might be miraculously healed, and it wasn’t, the Lord Jesus said to him, so he tells us, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). It was as if Jesus said, “You are to carry on, Paul, as you are. I promise that you will be kept going despite the thorn in your flesh. Your ministry will not suffer, though you will live with the pain all your days. And that is truly my best answer to your prayer.”
Sometimes, what God does or fails to do for our immediate situation may look and feel at first as if He is saying a flat 'No' to us. Jesus also used the story of the unjust judge to teach that his people ought always to pray and never give up. In this parable, the poor widow had to keep bothering the judge in order to get the justice that she was entitled to. The message of her story is that when we pray, we may find God takes longer than we expected to move in answer to our prayer. But Jesus contrasts this lazy judge with the righteous and just God who loves us and faithfully promotes our true interest. Jesus says in effect, “How much more will your heavenly Father answer your prayer not only in the best way but at the best time also, which may well mean your having to wait before He moves in response to your request.”
God’s wisdom will appear in both HOW and WHEN He answers His children’s prayers.
One thing I have been praying for earlier this year is that God will direct me to a suitable job, knowing it will be challenging after 25 years as a church minister. I also prayed that I would be able to stay close to God and have enough moments of solitude. God took me on a journey of many months of writing and sending out more than 200 resumes. There were days when I was immensely motivated and sent out four or five resumes with meticulously crafted cover letters. Then there were days when fear and uncertainty about the future overwhelmed me, especially after I have prayed, resulting in my complete lack of drive to even search for a job online.
The month of May was the most trying time for me when I felt assailed by Satan spiritually and emotionally. But I kept aligning my heart to WHO I know my God to be: a loving, merciful and kind father who has in store the best plan for his children. The verse in 2 Corinthians 5:7 in the Amplified Bible Classic version really helped too:
“For we walk by faith [we regulate our lives and conduct ourselves by our conviction or belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, with trust and holy fervour; thus we walk] not by sight or appearance.”
My idea that living by faith means to live without having to struggle is inaccurate! The keyword for me from the above is “regulate”. To regulate is to control something by means of rules and or an external standard. I have to regulate my conduct and feelings based on my understanding of God. The other word is “respect”. When my faith is high (or low), I have to respect that everyone around me, including my supportive wife, may not feel the same way I do. Their lives do not revolve around me because they have their own faith journey.
I align and re-align my faith, feelings and actions daily and found enough strength to apply for a job in end May. Before July was up, I had already signed the letter of appointment after having gone for one interview with them! I got a job! Looking back, I realised God had delayed the replies from the two other agencies I applied to because this was the BEST fit for someone of my personality and experience! The office is an awesome 40 minutes (point to point using public transportation) from home and all my colleagues are kind and helpful (praise God!) He truly put me on the most suited path in His way and in His time!
“He asked for strength that he might achieve;
he was made weak that he might obey.
He asked for health that he might do greater things;
he was given infirmity that he might do better things.
He asked for riches that he might be happy;
he was given poverty that he might be wise.
He asked for power that he might have the praise of men;
he was given weakness that he might feel the need of God.
He asked for all things that he might enjoy life;
he was given life that he might enjoy all things.
He has received nothing that he asked for,
but all that he hoped for.
His prayer is answered."
("The Paradox of Prayer", Col. R. H. Fitzhugh)
Ng Wee Keong
After serving in the full time ministry for 25 years, Wee Keong stepped out on faith to seek outside employment and continue his adventure with God. He is now doing mediation work and considers his salvation, his wife and sons and his spiritual experiences the greatest gains in his life.