A few weeks ago, I received a direct message via Instagram from a stranger, and her message was regarding a Bible verse I posted that morning. This is what she wrote:
“I don’t mean to be rude, but I wanted to know why you pray if your prayers don’t always come true. Doesn’t that frustrate you?”
Apparently, this person had been following my account for quite some time, and she had a question about the verse I shared. The verse I posted, Psalm 118:5, happens to be a personal favorite: “Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free.”
I often share my faith via my social media platforms. Whether I come across a moving scripture or a powerful passage from a devotional, I enjoy sharing these special words with my followers. In turn, I enjoy following people who also share the word. Social media may be for entertainment and communication, but it’s also a means to discuss and share my faith, and for that, I am grateful.
Well, this particular follower told me that she is an atheist, and although she isn’t closed off to the belief of Christ, she is more so confused as to why people believe or have unwavering faith when we live in a world of sin and unanswered prayers. I appreciated her question because not only did her message give me the means to share His word, but her question was a powerful reminder that prayer isn’t about getting what we want.
I took a moment to think before responding to her because her question didn’t exactly lead to a simple, one- or two-word response. The answer to her question is one that believers and unbelievers alike can benefit from understanding.
“That’s a great question,” I replied. “Give me just a moment to gather my thoughts, and I’ll get back to you,” I messaged.
As I thought about the reasons as to why I pray, I was overcome with several reminders about the power of God.
“Prayer isn’t about getting what I want,” I finally wrote, “and it doesn’t always involve a request, either. I give Him thanks, I randomly talk about my day and I ask His advice, too. I pray to God because He turns my sadness into joy, He brings me comfort, He makes me whole and He listens and loves me unconditionally. He’s the ultimate friend, and prayer is my lifeline to Him. Because I believe, prayer fills me with encouragement and gratitude.”
She was grateful for my response, and our talk about God grew from there. At that moment, I knew God was orchestrating something special, a pathway to a conversation about His sovereignty.
“Honestly, I don’t always want Him to answer my prayers,” I shared.
Taken aback by my response, she asked why.
My answer was simple. “I know that He knows what’s best for me.”
His plans for us are often different than the plans we orchestrate for ourselves. He understands our needs in a way we may never comprehend, and yet He always knows what He’s doing. Prayer isn’t magic, and it isn’t like summoning a genie in a bottle, either. When we pray, we often share our innermost thoughts and feelings with Christ, and during those soul-baring moments, we experience the Lord’s indescribable power. The truth is, believers pray to God regardless if they get what they want because we know God always answers our prayers one way or another, and sometimes the best answers to prayers happen to be “no” or unanswered.