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How to Deal With Unanswered Prayer

Unanswered Prayer  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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God is perfect, we are are not.
Let’s first change our mindset on what unanswered prayer is. Anytime you place a un before a word, the person who was suppose to perform the action, is the one to blame.

Opening

Please turn with me to Psalms 42.
By show of hands how many of you have ever been in a situation where you really needed an answer from someone, but when you tried to call them they didn’t pick up? You tried to text them and email them, but they didn’t respond, at least in the time that you wanted them to. And so while you were waiting on them to respond, you found yourself getting angry with them? Anybody?
How many of you have ever felt this way in your prayer life? You got down on your knees, you’ve been crying out to the Lord to do something or to give you answer about something, but it just seems like he’s just not listening. Anybody ever been there?
Well I want you to know that you’re not alone. I’ve been there, and as you will see, the writer of this psalm has been there.

Scripture

Psalm 42 NIV
For the director of music. A maskil of the Sons of Korah. 1 As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? 3 My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” 4 These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng. 5 Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. 6 My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar. 7 Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me. 8 By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me— a prayer to the God of my life. 9 I say to God my Rock, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?” 10 My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, “Where is your God?” 11 Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
Psalm

Introduction

Introduction
Today, I want to talk to you on the subject “HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH UNANSWERED PRAYER?”
If you look at the top of the Psalm, you will see “For the director of music. A maskil of the Sons of Korah.” It’s not clear on what a maskil specifically is, but it is said to either mean a psalm of wisdom and instruction or a skillful worship song. The Sons of Korah were a group of Levites designated to sing praises to the Lord. In other words, the writer of this psalm is their ancient praise and worship leader.
Observations
And so this psalm is a song that would be sung in worship. However, this is not a song, we today, would want to start the service with, for this song is in the genre of lament. When I say genre, it’s like rap, R&B, hiphop, country, rock, jazz, gospel, etc. All of those are genres or different types of music. This song is in the genre of lament, which means the purpose of the song is to express one’s grief or sorrow. So what we have here is a praise and worship leader singing about their grief and sorrow towards God.
The Sons of Korah were a group of Levites designated to sing praises to the Lord. In other words, the writer of this psalm is their ancient praise and worship leader.
Now you would think that because of the writer’s position as a praise and worship leader that they would never sing about grief and sorrow, heartache and pain, worry and anxiety, struggle and strife. You would think they would just praise their way through. Well, let me tell you that it doesn’t matter whether you are the praise and worship leader, the deacon or the preacher. It doesn’t matter how mature you may be in your walk with God, you can know a lot about what God can do, and yet it not change how you feel when you’re going through something.
And so this psalm is a song that would be sung in worship. However, this is not a song we today would want to start the service with, for this song is in the genre of lament. When I say genre, it’s like rap, R&B, hiphop, country, rock, jazz, gospel, etc. All of those are genres or different types of music. This song is in the genre of lament, which means the purpose of the song is to express one’s grief or sorrow. So what we have here is a praise and worship leader singing about their grief and sorrow towards God. Now you would think that because of the writer’s position as a praise and worship leader that they would never sing about grief and sorrow, heartache and pain, worry and anxiety, struggle and strife. You would think they would just praise their way through. Well, let me tell you that it doesn’t matter whether you are the praise and worship leader, the deacon or the preacher. It doesn’t matter how mature you may be in your walk with God, what you know about God, may not change how you feel when you’re going through.
You can know that God is:
Psalm 42:1–2 NIV
1 As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?
Psalms 42
Psalm 42:1 NRSV
1 As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God.
The imagery here of the deer is not bambi leaping towards a stream of water to go get something to drink
You can know that God is:
Your lily in the valley (that means he is your life in dark places)
Your wheel in the middle of a wheel (that means he gives direction)
Your bright and morning star (that means he is your hope in the dark midnight hour)
Omnipotent (All-powerful)
Omniscient (All-Knowing)
Omnipresent (Present Everywhere)
Jehovah Jireh (the one who provides)
Jehovah Nissi (the one who gives victory)
Jehovah Shalom (the one who gives peace)
Jehovah Rapha (the one who heals)
weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning
He will never leave you nor forsake you
You can know all the promises given in Scripture and all of the names given to God yet it not change the way you feel when you are going through something.
There are some people here today, that have been asking God:
To be your light, yet you still feel like you are darkness.
To give direction, yet you still feel lost.
To reveal his power, yet you still feel powerless.
To provide, yet you are still pinching pennies.
Jehovah Jireh (the one who provides)
To give victory, yet you still feel defeated.
To give peace, yet you are still full of fear and worry.
To heal, yet you still feel sick.
To give you joy, yet you still feel depressed
To show up, yet you still feel abandoned and alone.
And so the question is what do you do when it seems like you have prayed all that you can pray and it still feels like God is not listening? How do you deal with unanswered prayer?
Look at the imagery that this praise and worship leader gives in verse 1-2 (can you put that up there Dre):
Psalm 42:1–2 NIV
1 As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?
The imagery here of the deer is not bambi leaping towards a stream of water to go get something to drink, but the imagery here (in out of breath sounds) is a deer tired, exhausted and dehydrated. And it’s not like the deer doesn’t know what it needs to be refreshed. It’s not like the writer doesn’t know that the only one that can quench his thirst is the living water which is Jesus. This is not one of those situations where he’s he is out looking searching for drugs, sex, boys, girls, getting likes on social media or something else to help him, but he was searching for God. He knows that his help comes from God. The problem is that he can’t find God.
Anybody ever been there before? It’s not like your’re not looking for God. You want God. You know he’s the solution to your problem, but you just can’t locate him.
Anybody ever been there before. Where
Look at verse 3:
Psalm 42:3 NIV
3 My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”
Pslam 42:3
The writer gives some more imagery here. Since he couldn’t find God to quench his thirst, his tears of sorrow became his drink. But notice he says, while people are saying to him all day long “Where is your God?” Now the writer says this twice, once in verse 3 and another time in verse 10, but in neither time does the psalmist answer the question. And perhaps the reason why this praise and worship leader doesn’t answer the question, is because he probably is asking the same thing... “Where are you God?”

Remember

But then in the midst of his wondering, in the midst of his grief, the writer begins to show us what we can do when we feel like God is not listening.
Look at verse 4 & 6.
Psalm 42:4 NIV
4 These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng.
Psalms
Psalm 42:6 NIV
6 My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.
When you are going through a season where you feel like God isn’t listening you must remember the heights of Hermon, you must remember what God has done for you.
When you are going through a season where you feel like God isn’t listening
Exercise: For about 30 seconds, have everyone turn to a neighbor and tell that person one thing God has done for them. At the end of the 30 seconds exhort people to praise God for things they remembered God do.
Do you mind if I tell you some things I remember when I’m going through seasons where I don;t feel like God is listening. I remember:
How God blessed me to graduate from a four-year university without any debt.
How God blessed me to have a career lined up 8 months before I graduated.
How God blessed me with a wife at a time I wasn’t even looking to be in a relationship.
How when it was time for us to buy a house, and the loan officer said we normally don’t give loans to people unless they can show a certain level of consistent income over a period of two years ( for I was 23 and had only been working for a year and four months), but because you studied accounting and went to go work in accounting, it tells us that you are consistent and reliable, so we are going to wave the two years.
I remember when that same house got broken into, and how the thief took a broken laptop hidden between the wall and the dresser, but didn’t take my wife’s wedding ring that was sitting on top of the dresser.
I remember when, one of our cars broke down, and God used an unbelieving, 88 year-old rich white woman who lived all the way in Berkeley, CA to sign over her 2004 Prius to me for free.
I remember when I was unemployed for four months in the same year I had got married and bought a house, and how my mortgage was still paid, food was still on the table, bills were still paid, clothes were still on our back and shoes were still on pour feet.
When I go through season where I feel like God is listening, like the psalmist, I remember what God has done.
Write this down: There is power in remembering what God has done in your past, when you feel like he’s not doing anything in your present.

Hope in God

Not only does the writer teach us to remember, but he teaches us to put our hope in God.
Look at verse 5.
Psalm 42:5 NIV
5 Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
He says put your hope in God. Many times we think because we’re on our knees crying out to God, that our hope is God. But a lot of times, I have found myself not placing my hope in God, but in what I want God to do. And if God does not do what I am asking him to do, I become frustrated with God. But I have recognized over the years that the root of my frustration is not because God stop being God, but because I thought my prayer could control God.
Does not the Bible say that whatever I ask in Jesus name that it will be given to me? Yes, but don’t that part where Jesus says “that it may bring glory to my father.” Don‘t forget that part where it says “if we ask anything according to HIS will.”
‘t forget that part where it says “if we ask anything according to HIS will.”
In case you didn’t know, God is not our personal genie.
And if the truth was told, the times when we feel like God is not listening to our prayer, it’s not because God said yes, but because God said no or not yet. And so when you’re frustrated, instead of getting mad a God, we really need to mad ourselves, for either being impatient or a spoiled brat that don’t know how to take “no” for an answer.

Hebrew Boys

But my encouragement to you is that we become like the three Hebrew Boys. In , we find a story of three Hebrew Boys and a king. The Hebrew boys had a relationship with thee God. The king worshipped other little gods. The king built a golden statue that he wanted everyone to bow down to and worship. And everyone bowed down to the statue, except the three Hebrew Boys. Word got back to the king and the threatened them and said if they didn’t bow down to this golden statue, they would be thrown into a fiery furnace. But their response was “If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
What am I trying to tell you is that, that in your prayer life, your hope needs to be in that God is able, not in that God will.

God’s Answer May Not Be What You Expected

And so in times when we feel like our prayers are left unanswered, not only must you remember what God has done for you in the past, not only must we place our hope in God and not in a particular outcome, but we must understand that God’s answer may not be what we expected. And we are going to spend some time here.
Look at verse 9.
Psalm 42:9 NIV
9 I say to God my Rock, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?”
The psalmist calls God his Rock, and then ask the question “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?” In other words, God you are suppose to be my rock, so why do you still allow me to suffer when I have asked you to make it stop?
God why do you still allow me to suffer when I have asked you to make it stop?
Sometimes God’s answers is not what we expect because we misunderstand who he is.
The psalmist calls God his rock, but God being your rock may not be what you expect. You see when we think of God being our rock we think of a firm foundation, something that creates security and stability. And he is that. But sometimes, God being your rock means the rock you grab onto when you feel like you’re hanging of a cliff.
What am I trying to say? If every answer God gave you provided security and stability, you probably wouldn’t pay much attention to him, but it’s in our suffering when we tend to call on him the most. When everything is going well, preachers have to pull people to prayer meeting. But let something bad happen and all of a sudden everybody’s wants prayer. Why, because it’s in our suffering where we tend to pay attention to God the most. And God wants you to pay attention to him.
In , we find a man by the name of Paul who is struggling with what he calls a thorn in the flesh. We don’t know if it was a physical or spiritual condition, but he called it the messenger of Satan to torment him. He prayed and asked God three times to get rid of this thorn in the flesh and God says NO, my grace is sufficient, my power works best in your weakness. When we ask God to reveal his power, we tend to think that means making us strong, but God’s power is shown best when we are weak.
Sometimes God’s answers is not what we expect because we misunderstand who he is.
The ones who experience Gods blessings the most are usually the ones at the bottom (The Beattitudes
Sometimes God’s answers is not what we expect because we don’t understand the purpose of what we are going through.
The psalmist ask God “Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?” The psalmist does not understand why he is going through what he is going through. And when you don’t understand what you are going through what you are going through, it will feel like God is not listening.
In our previous example with Paul, the reason why Paul says that God had given him the thorn in the flesh, was so that while God was elevating him and giving him revelations and making him known amongst the churches, it would keep him humble. You see the thorn in the flesh or the suffering that Paul initially treated as a something to hold him back, was designed to launch him forward. Something that Paul initially saw as something that made him weak, actually was designed to make him rely on the power of God. And I don’t know what thorn in the flesh you have been asking God to get rid of in your life, but before you get upset and feel like God is not listening, I encourage you ask him if there is a purpose for it being there.
Lastly, sometimes God’s answers are not what we expect because we are looking for the answer in the wrong places.
Let me tell you a story.
Once there was a man who dared God to speak. Burn the bush like you did for Moses, and I will follow. Collapse the walls like you did for Joshua, and I will fight. Still the waves like you did on Galilee, and I will listen.
And so that man sat by a bush, near a wall, close to the sea, and waited for God to speak. And God heard man, so God answered.
He sent fire, not for a bush, but for a church. He brought down a wall, not of brick, but of sin. He stilled a storm, not of the sea, but of a soul.
And God waited for the man to respond. And He waited… And He waited… And waited.
But because the man was looking for bushes, not hearts; bricks and not lives; seas and not souls, he decided that God had done nothing.
Finally he looked at God and asked, “Have You lost Your power?” And God looked at him and said, “Have you lost your hearing?”
Sometimes God’s answers, don’t always look like answers, but they look like problems, trouble, loss, disappointment, affliction, conflict and sorrow.
Whatever you are praying for and you feel like God isn’t listening. He has probably answered, but the question is are you looking in the right place?

EXTRA

Sometimes God’s answers is not what we expect because we misunderstand who he is.
Let’s first change our mindset on what unanswered prayer is. Anytime you place a un before a word, the person who was suppose to perform the action, is the one to blame.
You see when I’m walking on the sidewalk, I don’t pay much attention to the rock that the sidewalk is made out of. But if I was hanging off a cliff, every fiber in my body would be focused on holding on to the rock.
What am I trying to say? If every answer God gave you provided security and stability, you probably wouldn’t pay much attention to him, but it’s in our suffering when we tend to call on him the most. When everything is going well, preachers have to pull people to prayer meeting. But let something bad happen and all of a sudden everybody’s wants prayer. Why, because it’s in our suffering where we tend to pay attention to God the most. And God wants you to pay attention to him.
The ones who experience Gods blessings the most are usually the ones at the bottom (The Beattitudes
The ones who experience Gods blessings the most are usually the ones at the bottom (The Beattitudes
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