7 Best Ways to Respond to Unanswered Prayer

If you’ve ever wondered how to respond to unanswered prayer, you are not alone! Unanswered prayers can cause a lot of mixed emotions, doubts about God, anger, or other negative reactions. But, what’s the most constructive response? How can we respond in faith, trust, and perseverance? That is what we’re going to explore in this post.

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We’ve all been there… we pray and pray, and yet… NOTHING. It seems that God is silent at best, absent at worst.

We wonder: “If God loves me, why did he let me endure so much heartache/tragedy/misery? If he cares for me, why am I still struggling to feed my family? If He wants to give me my heart’s desires, then why has my dream career failed, or I’m still single, my marriage is crumbling, or my sickness has not been healed?”

And if we let those doubts erode our faith and hope in God, unanswered prayers can lead to SO MUCH DISCOURAGEMENT. Which is why it’s so important, to learn how to respond to unanswered prayers in a positive way.

In my own life, there are so many things I’m still waiting on God for… solutions for my health struggles, a godly husband I could walk through life with, for family members to know Jesus, and so forth. And yet, I must choose every day to see the blessings God does give me, and trust Him with the prayers that are still unanswered.

What are YOUR unanswered prayers?

Are you able to trust God with them? Or are you allowing doubt and discouragement to negatively affect your relationship with God?

Whatever the case may be for you in this moment, I want to remind you of one KEY point: God’s LOVE and SOVEREIGN PLANS for your life are much bigger than you can comprehend! Only He knows what’s truly best for you, how He will work good even out of tragedy, and what ways He will provide for you each day.

We can’t possibly know everything that God knows. BUT, we do know that He is good, and we can trust Him with every detail of our lives—even in the times when things don’t make sense, and we can’t see the solution yet!

So, with that in mind, let’s address the issue of what to do when prayers are not answered…

7 Best Ways to Respond to Unanswered Prayer

7 Best Ways to Respond to Unanswered Prayer

Perhaps the BEST QUESTION to ask, is this: What can we do to strengthen our relationship with God, even as we’re still waiting for answers to prayer?

Learning how to deal with unanswered prayers is not just about praying harder, or trying to figure out the reasons why our prayers are not answered. Don’t get me wrong—that’s definitely part of it. But it’s way more important to seek God earnestly, and to have an intimate relationship with Him, than to just want our prayers answered (with no desire for relationship).

God has given each of us SO MUCH (forgiveness of sins, sunshine and rain, breathe in our lungs, just to name a few basics), plus whatever additional blessings each of us receives. Don’t we owe Him our utmost adoration and devotion, regardless of whether a specific prayer is answered or not?

Of course we do!

So, with that thought in mind, here are seven of the best ways to respond to unanswered prayer…

1) Focus on communion with God

Part of the blessing of prayer, is simply letting God know our deepest concerns and struggles—and knowing that He hears and cares for us. And so, the first principle of how to deal with unanswered prayers, is to keep pouring your heart out to God!

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 (NIV)

Think about how you feel when you talk to a trusted friend or mentor. They may not solve your problem, but they listen with compassion, and you feel heard and understood. Even though your problem still exists, it makes a big difference to know they care and you’re not alone!

So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.
1 Peter 5:6-7 (NLT)

And it’s similar with God—He listens, He cares, and even though it may look like nothing is happening right now, God is helping you in countless ways along your journey (for more on that, see point #5).  

Romans 8:28

2) Address any sin, unforgiveness, doubts, etc. that may exist in your life

Now, to address the elephant in the room… There ARE times when it might be appropriate to ask, “What hinders my prayers from being answered?

If you are living a life of obvious sin, of course the Bible says that can prevent God from hearing your prayers! It’s ALWAYS a good idea to confess your sins, and make every effort to stop doing them.

But your iniquities have separated
    you from your God;
your sins have hidden his face from you,
    so that he will not hear.

Isaiah 59:2 (NIV)

But aside from sin and unforgiveness, there are plenty of other potential reasons for unanswered prayers, such as in James 1:6, where it states that doubts (lack of faith) can hinder our prayers from being answered.

There are also some prayers that God will not answer, such as ones with selfish motives:

When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
James 4:3 (NIV)

I think that, for me personally, it comes down to discernment and (more) prayer. The Bible states over and over again, that when our hearts align with God’s will, we can ask for whatever we desire and it will be done for us.

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
John 15:7 (NIV)

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 (NIV)

But honestly, how often do our desires truly align with God’s? And furthermore, it’s not our place to judge if what we’re asking for is truly aligned with what God wants for us (or with His timing). Our job is to pray, and then leave it in His hands! Which brings us to the next point…

3) Trust, Trust, TRUST!!!

When prayers feel unanswered, it is SO important to trust God! Life might often be crazy, even topsy-turvy, but God is always in control.

We may not understand why some prayers are not answered, or why the answers we do receive are different from what we expected. And that’s okay! As Proverbs says, we shouldn’t lean on our own understanding:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)

Also, especially for answers that are a long time in coming, it’s good to remember that God’s timing is different from ours:

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
2 Peter 3:8-9 (NIV)

Yes, it may be frustrating sometimes when we don’t understand why or when or how, but it makes a big difference to simply TRUST God and take Him at His Word.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord wall art

4) Be hopeful, patient, and faithful

As you learn how to respond to unanswered prayer and trust God more, you may also find that you need to pack a lot of hope, patience, and faith! This Bible verse from the book of Romans has provided me so much encouragement…

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Romans 12:12 (NIV)

Sometimes, when we’re in the midst of an unresolved struggle, it’s tempting to lose faith. But, this Scripture encourages us to hold onto hope, to be patient as we wait for God to answer, and to not give up praying!

5) Celebrate all the little glimmers of hope, help, and provision

Speaking of being joyful in hope, let’s talk about hopeful signs, helpful provisions, and pathways God makes ‘in the wilderness’! As you get a better sense for how to deal with unanswered prayers, you’ll notice all the ways God is helping you like this along your journey.

Recently, in my own life, I’ve seen some little signs and wonders—glimmers of hope, that have encouraged me and helped me to see that God is leading me down the path He has for me. And what a blessing it has been!

So, even when you can’t see the solution or outcome you desire yet, it sure helps to notice those little ways that God provides for and guides you.

See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.

Isaiah 43:19 (NIV)

6) Give thanks in all circumstances

Have you ever been angry at God for not answering your prayers? Maybe you’ve even felt so indignant, or entitled, that you completely lose sight of all the blessings you already have?

But, when you stop and appreciate the many things God HAS ALREADY given you, you realize that you’re blessed far beyond what you deserve. (Growing in gratitude has been my focus for this year, and I can definitely say it makes a big difference!)

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)

Notice how the verse above says to give thanks IN all circumstances (not FOR). We can always find reasons to be thankful, even when our circumstances are not ideal!

Bible lettering - 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice always

7) EVEN IF: Rest in His grace

Finally, what do you do when you receive a NO from God? Or you just don’t hear anything for years, which essentially feels like a NO? There are many examples of unanswered prayers in the Bible, where people went for long periods of time with no answer, such as Abraham, and Job.

But the Apostle Paul gave the best example of how to respond when prayers for healing go unanswered:

Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:7(b)-10

This is tough love y’all! We might not like that thorn, but God’s grace is sufficient for each of us, whether the thorn is just temporary, or something we’re stuck with for life.

As a person with narcolepsy, 2 Corinthians 12:9 is absolutely one of my favorite Bible verses, which I lean on quite often. In many ways, this debilitating sleep disorder keeps me from being conceited. I am grateful to have treatment and coping strategies that help, but still, narcolepsy makes my life harder, and limits how much I can do each day. I would love to be healed from it, but for however long I must endure, God’s grace and power are sufficient for me!

God's grace is sufficient - Bible journaling

Learning how to respond to unanswered prayer is not easy, but it’s essential to continue following Christ and living a life of faith! I hope this has encouraged you to keep praying, and to grow ever closer to God—regardless of whether your prayers have been answered yet.

I’ll leave you with these wise words from King David, who wrote about his expectant hope in God:

Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness
    while I am here in the land of the living.
Wait patiently for the Lord.
    Be brave and courageous.
    Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

Psalm 27:13-14 (NLT)

2 thoughts on “7 Best Ways to Respond to Unanswered Prayer”

  1. Oliach Stephen

    It’s real blessing and truth is the rebuilding relationship with Christ Jesus for good faith in prayer and encouragement.Thankyou very.God blesses

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