Let’s be honest—sometimes it’s hard to believe that the answer to, “Does God even care?” is a resounding, “Absolutely!” Especially when we’ve been praying for something for ages, and it seems to be sitting in God’s inbox, probably unread, and definitely unanswered (so far).

We’ve read the verses about God caring for us (Luke 12:7, Isaiah 40:11, John 15:15), and we believe he cares, at least in a general sense. But we’re growing more and more convinced that he’s too busy to deal with our requests for a new job, our prayers that the tension in conversations with dad will finally ease up, or our pleas that we’ll have just a smidge more time in our schedule to do something we enjoy instead of being so burdened by endless work and home project lists.

What should we do about unanswered prayer? How do we keep ourselves from growing bitter, and frustrated that God hasn’t gotten to our request(s) yet?

These are good questions, and we won’t pretend like we have a magic bullet answer. But if you, like us, need a little help getting through seasons of unanswered prayer, check out these four answers to the question, “What should we do about unanswered prayer?”

 

When You Pray and God Doesn’t Answer, Ask for Peace

Oh boy, does a true sense of peace from God get us through crazy times! We’re talking about the kind of peace that “transcends all understanding” (Phil. 4:7)—the kind of peace that, given our circumstances, doesn’t seem logical.

This kind of peace doesn’t make our problems go away. It doesn’t even always mean that we’re suddenly game for waiting for an answer to prayer as long as God sees fit. But as we simply ask God to give us his peace, calm can win out over anxiety. Fear of never getting what we need can give way to a growing trust that God has a plan, and he’ll work things out. God’s peace also builds our confidence that God isn’t blind to what’s going on, but just working in a way we might not be able to see (yet).

 

When You Pray and God Doesn’t Answer, Remember What God’s Done

There’s some serious power in remembering how faithful God has been in the past. Because by remembering, we build up the evidence of his good character in our quick-to-doubt minds.

Maybe there’s a specific time in our own lives where we saw God come through for us in an amazing way—let’s take some time to write it down. Or we’ve seen God work in the lives of those around us through people we know, or even videos or podcasts we’ve heard.

If we’re still struggling to come up with something, we’ve always got this really great gift of books and letters that record (in detail) God’s miraculous and resilient faithfulness to his people over the span of centuries (we call it, “the Bible” for short). Check out Joseph’s story in Genesis, or the book of Ruth, or read any of God’s promises to his people through one of the prophets!

As we physically write out these rememberings, we can start to see his character coming through these examples. And then we can reflect on the truth that the God who did all that IS the very same God who will, in his timing, answer our prayer (in the best way he sees fit).

 

When You Pray and God Doesn’t Answer, Consider Alternatives

After so many weeks/months (even years!) of asking God for the same thing over and over, we’ve found it can be a helpful practice to let ourselves step back a bit and ask God, “Are we even praying for the right/best thing?” Maybe we’re actually really unprepared for what we’re asking for, and God has some work to do before we’re ready. Or maybe he’s got something totally different and exciting up his sleeve.

Regardless of what God’s eventual answer to our prayer will look like, it’ll be helpful to train our hearts to be a little more soft towards considering that his plan and timing might be pretty different from ours. No, we don’t know how he’ll work things out, but the exercise of asking can remind us how very big he and his plans are, and how limited our ability to make great plans is (we don’t know all the details like he does!).

 

When You Pray and God Doesn’t Answer, Take it One Day at a Time

We’re trying to be honest here, so we don’t want to sweep this reality under the rug: it is SO hard to wait for God to answer prayers. Really, really hard. And depending on the gravity of our prayer, it can be totally devastating.

But one reminder that we find helpful is this: today, we only need enough strength to get through today. So admit the hardness of this season of unanswered prayer, but don’t let it draw you away from God. Instead, draw near to him, cashing in on his promise to be a safe place of refuge for his people (Proverbs 18:10).

So, what should we do about unanswered prayer? We do all of these things, and then keep doing them on repeat (and find new things that are helpful). And we recognize that hard seasons like this won’t always make sense. Sometimes we’ll learn later on why God waited to answer a certain prayer, but it’s probably more common that we never find out. We just have to trust that there’s some purpose in his timing and provision because he is good and will do what’s best.

And we do believe there is purpose for the way God answers prayers, and the timeline on which he does it. But we still need help believing it sometimes, and that’s okay.