Why doesn’t God answer all my prayers? The short answer is, because some of them are stupid. God doesn’t do stupid things. No matter how many times we say “please.” No matter how much faith we have. No matter how hard we pray. God does strange things; hard-to-understand things; even things that can seem totally messed up and cruel from our limited vantage point. But God never does stupid things.
I’ve come to believe that the main reason for my unanswered prayers is that I keep praying stupid prayers, asking God to do stupid things. I can hear some objections already. “There are no stupid prayers!” But there are. I know. I’ve prayed some. Jesus introduced the Lord’s Prayer by telling the disciples not to pray stupid prayers. In fact, Jesus introduced the Lord’s Prayer by telling the disciples not to pray stupid prayers like the hypocrites and pagans do. (Matthew 5:6-7). People regularly ask God for stupid things.
“Help me win the lottery”
“Bring my cheating boyfriend back to me”
“Help me lose weight while I eat whatever I want and never exercise”
“Bless me now, even though I’ve been ignoring you for years”
“Make me smart enough to pass the test I didn’t study for”
“Give me a bigger ministry than the church down the street”
Then we get mad when God says “no” to our stupid prayers. Sincere, but stupid. Prayer may be the most overlooked aspect of Christian life and pastoral ministry. Even though we know it’s the most important. We need to become better at prayer – but how? Well, try starting with prayers that God has already said He’ll answer:
- That God’s kingdom would take greater hold in my heart
- That God’s will would be done in me, like it is in heaven
- That God would supply my needs (not my wants) for today
- That God would help me forgive others like God has forgiven me
- That God would lead me away from the things that tempt me the most
- That God would keep evil away from my heart’s door
- That God would be honoured and glorified above all and in all
Those are prayers God will never say “no” to. Plus, when those prayers are answered, they help us become better in our praying about other things, too. Better prayers have nothing to do with smooth words. Better prayers are the ones that change our hearts to become more like Jesus.