When Your Prayers Are Going Unanswered And Everything Feels Like A Battle
Hey, sweet friend.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably in the thick of it.
Tired. Weary. Struggling to hold on.
You’ve prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed…and prayed some more. Yet nothing seems to change.
So you may be having doubts about this whole goodness-of-God thing.
And then you feel guilty about your doubts.
And it’s just a giant package of no-bueno-ness.
I get it. Been there, done that. In fact, I’m in the thick of it now, too.
So, from my heart to yours, I just want to share with you some things that I’ve learned along the way and some practical steps to make your prayer life 122.76% better.
We are in this together.
In a galaxy far, far away, there lived a Keela in a foreign place called Texas. For months, she prayed and prayed and prayed but never saw an answer. Instead, it felt like everything was just getting harder.
Nothing seemed to go right. Nothing went according to plan.
She prayed scripture. She believed. She knew that she was praying according to His Word and His will. She worshiped God and praised Him, but deep in her heart, she wondered why He hadn’t answered.
She wondered if He really sees her.
If He’s really with her.
If He really cares.
Of course, she knew He did. I mean, it was written all over the Bible, hundreds of promises scrawled in those thin yet unbreakable pages.
Plus, she knew Him. He had come through for her before. She had felt His presence, heard His whispers, seen His love.
She had experienced Him before, so why couldn’t she see Him now?
Why wasn’t He answering?
Why did it feel like there was opposition from every side, like nothing could go right, like every little thing was a battle?
Why was everything getting worse instead of better?
DEEP DIVE INTO THE BIBLE
I’ll get back to that story in a second, but first, let’s take a look at Daniel 9. (Yes, READ THIS ENTIRE CHAPTER because it’s important. Don’t just read what I have to say — go to the Word first, always.)
In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, by descent a Mede, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans— 2 in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, perceived in the books the number of years that, according to the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet, must pass before the end of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years.
3 Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. 4 I prayed to the Lord my God and made confession, saying, “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 5 we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules. 6 We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. 7 To you, O Lord, belongs righteousness, but to us open shame, as at this day, to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to all Israel, those who are near and those who are far away, in all the lands to which you have driven them, because of the treachery that they have committed against you. 8 To us, O Lord, belongs open shame, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against you.9 To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against him 10 and have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God by walking in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets. 11 All Israel has transgressed your law and turned aside, refusing to obey your voice. And the curse and oath that are written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out upon us, because we have sinned against him. 12 He has confirmed his words, which he spoke against us and against our rulers who ruled us, by bringing upon us a great calamity. For under the whole heaven there has not been done anything like what has been done against Jerusalem. 13 As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this calamity has come upon us; yet we have not entreated the favor of the Lordour God, turning from our iniquities and gaining insight by your truth. 14 Therefore the Lord has kept ready the calamity and has brought it upon us, for the Lord our God is righteous in all the works that he has done, and we have not obeyed his voice. 15 And now, O Lord our God, who brought your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and have made a name for yourself, as at this day, we have sinned, we have done wickedly.
16 “O Lord, according to all your righteous acts, let your anger and your wrath turn away from your city Jerusalem, your holy hill, because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and your people have become a byword among all who are around us. 17 Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his pleas for mercy, and for your own sake, O Lord, make your face to shine upon your sanctuary, which is desolate. 18 O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy. 19 O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name.”
20 While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my plea before the Lord my God for the holy hill of my God,21 while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the first, came to me in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice. 22 He made me understand, speaking with me and saying, “O Daniel, I have now come out to give you insight and understanding. 23 At the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out, and I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly loved. Therefore consider the word and understand the vision.
24 “Seventy weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place. 25 Know therefore and understand that from the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, a prince, there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time. 26 And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing. And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed. 27 And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.”
(Daniel 9 ESV)
THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
For 21 days, Daniel prayed. For 21 days, Daniel believed. For 21 long and hard days, Daniel pleaded and petitioned and asked and battled the enemy with his prayers…and I bet he didn’t even know he was battling the enemy.
21 days after that first prayer, an angel pops up and is like, “Yo, on your first prayer, God answered, but I had to do battle with the enemy for 3 weeks before you could see the answer.”
Twenty-one days. Every day. Faith-filled. Praying fervently.
I look at this chapter and can’t help but wonder:
Did Daniel get discouraged when he didn’t see an answer?
Did he get angry with God?
Did he think about giving up?
What would have happened if he had stopped praying?
Also, Gabriel “reached [Daniel] in [his] extreme weariness” (Daniel 9:21).
Daniel was freaking exhausted. He was tired. He was at the breaking point.
Daniel was right in the middle of the worse before it got better, smack-dab in the middle of the battle before the victory.
And then came the answer!
FAST FORWARD TO NOW
I lived in that state for months.
I prayed and was discouraged when I didn’t see an answer. And, to be honest, I’m still praying for things that have yet to be answered.
But the Holy Spirit keeps whispering this into my stubborn little noggin:
What if it has to get worse before it gets better?
I still have “unanswered” prayers. There are still things that I’ve cried out to God about, begged Him, battled the enemy against, and prayed about…yet nothing seems to change.
Instead, things just seem to get worse.
But, dear friend, what if it has to get worse before it gets better?
What if there has to be a breaking point before there’s a breakthrough?
What if, just around the corner, it gets better?
What if, like Daniel, every prayer you send up is extra fuel for the angels who are fighting for you?
Or, better yet, what if your prayers are your weapons as you do battle against the enemy (because, yes, you have been given the authority to fight and DEFEAT the enemy — Ephesians 6)?
And one final “what if” question because I know you’re getting tired of my very cool and enlightening “what if” questions 😉 …
WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF YOU STOPPED PRAYING?
I’m making a wild guess here, but I personally don’t think Daniel would have seen his answer if he had given up and stopped praying and believing.
So I urge you, dear friend, to not give up. Keep praying. Keep standing on God’s promises. Keep declaring truth and fighting from victory (not for victory because victory is already yours).
And hear me when I say this: It feels like a battle because it is a battle.
You are battling the enemy with the power of Jesus, and you will win, but victories sometimes take time.
So keep fighting.
It’s about to get better. You’re about to see change. You’re about to see God move.
Just keep going (or swimming, if you’re Nemo).
Let’s look again at Daniel. In his rough season, he did a few things that were pivotal in the outcome of the story.
And if you’re looking at a crapload of prayers that have yet to be answered, I suggest you do the same. In fact, I dare you to do it and see what happens. See what God does.
Daniel praised God and reminded himself of all that God had done for him and his people already.
Praise God and remind yourself of all that God has done for you and all of the prayers that He has answered already.
Daniel confessed his sins AND the sins of his people, no holding back.
Lay out all of your dirty laundry before God, tell Him what you’ve done, and ask for help in changing. And, if you’re praying for someone else, confess their sins too and ask God to forgive them. (Psssstttttt…remind you of Jesus?)
Daniel banked on who God is; he shouted from the rooftops that because God is good, God should fulfill His promises.
Remember who God is and tell God who He is. (Of course, God already knows who He is, but He wants you to know it too!)
Daniel made bold requests.
Step out in faith, and boldly ask God for a miracle. Ask for something that is so far beyond your own power that only God can do it. That’s F-A-I-T-H, and in case you didn’t know this, God totally loves it when His kids have childlike faith.
Daniel kept praying and didn’t give up.
Keep praying and believing and never, ever, ever, EVER give up.
Daniel kept obeying.
Walk in obedience in EVERY area of your life. Ask God to show you areas that you could be doing better, confess your sins, and turn from those sins. Ask God to show you how to stop sinning, and then OBEY. Obedience is 100% key.
And here’s a bonus because I like you: think about what your beliefs are about prayer.
Do you really believe that God loves you and hears you?
Do you really believe that God answers prayers?
Do you really believe that God will answer YOUR prayer?
Do your beliefs about prayer align with the truth of God’s Word?
verses to hold onto (and post on your wall and PRAY 😉):
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” (1 John 5:14-15)
“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” (Mark 11:22-25)
“if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
“The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” (Psalm 145:18)
And if you need some more help in the Prayer Department, I’ve got a blog post right here that gives you some different ways to pray and what you can be praying for.
Once again, sweet friend, know that you are not alone. You are loved. God hears you.