When Old Prayers Go Unanswered

I think perhaps one of the hardest tests of faith are prayers that go unanswered. We pray for hard hearts to soften, impossible relationships to mend, health to be restored, future plans to be realized, even to find the right man and have a family. As time goes by it can become easy for us to think God is never going to answer these desperate prayers of ours.

But did you know God never forgets a single prayer, though it may be old, crinkled, and worn-out, browned with age and bear long-dried tear stains?

An Old Prayer Answered

But the angel said to him, ‘Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.’” – Luke 1:13

The priest Zacharias has a story to tell about old prayers being answered. He and his wife were getting on in years and still childless, despite their prayers. Then one day, while serving in the temple of the Lord, Zacharias was met by the heavenly messenger Gabriel who told him he would now receive a son.

I would expect it’s safe to say that this prayer the angel referred to was an old one. Seeing how the years had passed, no doubt the couples prayers grew fewer and fewer until they, in all human logic, gave up entirely.

And yet, God hadn’t forgotten.

He was still holding on to every one of those dear, heartfelt prayers, keeping them until the proper time.

And not surprisingly, when He did fulfill their request, it was in a greater way than they ever could have imagined.

What they prayed for was a child. What they received was the fulfillment of an age-old prophecy – a prophet who would shock the world and open men’s hearts with a startling message to prepare them for the coming of Jesus, the Savior.

Keep On and Remember

It is true, not all of our prayers will be fulfilled just as we have asked. Sometimes God will say no, and sometimes He will say yes. But sometimes He says “wait,” because He is working out His plan and it is not yet time.

So what can we do when He doesn’t seem to answer? Keep praying, and trust that He has a plan. Don’t listen to worldly logic that says it can’t be, or it’s simply too late. Our God specializes in doing the unimaginable.

And while you wait, remind yourself of the truth. Go back to scripture again and again that tells us of God’s faithfulness.

Remember Abraham and Sarah, how they, like Zacharias’ and Elizabeth, prayed dearly for a child and didn’t receive one until they were very old.

Remember the Israelites who, when enslaved to the Egyptians for centuries, questioning whether God would ever release them, walked to freedom through a parted, raging sea while God alone destroyed their enemy.

Remember King David, at one time a warrior promised the kingdom by God but sought as an outlaw until God himself removed the wicked King Saul and gave him the position.

This is our our first and foremost job, to remember the truth and keep praying.

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