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An Explanation for Unanswered Prayer?

In Matt. 13:3-23, Jesus gives the parable of the sower who throws his seed out onto various types of soil. Most of the seeds don’t stick for various reasons; some do and bear fruit. Jesus states to his (confused) disciples that He’s speaking of the Kingdom of Heaven and the seed of the gospel on men’s heart.

But I’ve often felt there’s a similarity between the sower in this story and the intercessor who sows the seeds of prayer. When you’re praying for people going through a rough time — illness, loss of job, etc. — it seems that the more receptive they are to divine intervention in their lives, the more open their hearts are to the moving of the Holy Spirit, and the more apt they are to receive a miracle or a breakthrough in their lives.

And even if a breakthrough or miracle doesn’t arrive, those people seem to be given extra grace to survive or handle their situation with strength and fortitude.

The least receptive and most self-sufficient “sufferers” — even among Christians — seem to continue simmering in their problems with no apparent breakthrough unless there’s a turning point within their heart. Perhaps this sounds judgmental. I don’t mean for it to be. It’s just something I’ve observed in my own prayer times and as a result of my own frustration with unanswered prayers, both directed at situations in my own life and prayer for others.

So, ask yourself, Am I being receptive and open-minded when it comes to the prayers of others for me and my life or have I hardened my heart a bit — because I think I can get out of this or handle this situation on my own? Or maybe because I have given up or feel like I deserve punishment and don’t deserve to be blessed?

With prayer, persistence is key (remember the parable of the widow who kept knocking?) but at the same time we must acknowledge that the human will plays a key part. God will not force anyone to salvation, to faith or even to blessing. We must open our heart’s door to Him.

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. — Revelation 3:20

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2 Comments to “An Explanation for Unanswered Prayer?”

  1. This is a good reminder to keep asking, seeking, and knocking until God answers. I sometimes give up too quickly in my prayers when they’re not answered right away, and I don’t always press in and earnestly intercede for something with the passion of that widow seeking justice in Jesus’ parable.

    The attitude of our hearts is critical in this process – it’s that strange and seemingly contradictory balance of fervently interceding for something and at the same time saying, “yet not my will, but Yours.” If my heart is ready to receive God’s answer, even if it’s not what I think it should be, then I’ll be more likely to recognize it when it comes!

  2. Amen to that!

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