Paul said, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6). James counseled, “You do not have because you do not ask” (James 4:2). And our Lord told us to “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” He assured us: “For everyone who asks received; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8). We have God’s approval to “approach the throne of grace with confidence,” (Hebrews 4:16). And nothing is off-limits – we are encouraged to pray about everything.
So what happens when we pray and the situation goes the other way? The fact is, prayers don’t always get answered the way we hope. What do we do with that?
We go to the garden with Jesus. Just before his betrayal and death, Jesus prayed with deep earnestness for this cup of suffering to pass from Him. He knew His Father had the power to take it away. He said, “Abba, Father, everything is possible for You.” Everything – curing cancer, healing broken bodies, taking away suffering. But he came to the one prayer that God will always answer: “Not my will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42). This has become my prayer too. It is not a prayer of resignation – it is a prayer of trust and of confidence that God’s will, whether it agrees with my desire or not, is “good, pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2).
Sometimes we pray and God miraculously answers. But sometimes we pray, and God says, “No.” which, by the way, is still an answer. I don’t know why some prayers are fulfilled and some are not. What I do know beyond any shadow of a doubt is that I will continue to bring every petition to God, I will ask, and seek, and knock, and then I will put it all in His hands and surrender it to His will. And I will trust that He is good. Beloved, I encourage you to make Jesus’ prayer the prayer of your heart – may the Father’s will be done.