Trusting God Despite Your Unanswered Prayers

The only thing worse than unanswered prayers is a clear “No” from God. These tips on how to trust God even when He doesn’t answer your prayers will help you cope with the silence and loneliness that can accompany unanswered prayers.

“Unanswered prayers are often not unanswered at all,” says Michelle on Heartfelt Prayers for Women Who Want to Get Pregnant, which is one of my most popular articles. “It is usually that you just don’t know how it was answered, or answered in a different way than you expected. Therefore, you didn’t notice. You pray for a reason, and you must trust that the God you pray to knows what is best for you.”

Even if you don’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ, you may struggle with prayers that God hasn’t answered. And your unanswered prayers affect your level of trust and faith in Him – especially if you’re praying for something good for people. It’s hard to see suffering, grief and pain in the innocent, young, helpless of our world. It hurts when our friends and family members are unhappy, sick, or even dying. Life can get incredibly difficult…and when God doesn’t answer prayer, it seems like He doesn’t care.

My ideas on how to trust God despite unanswered prayer are inspired by my own experiences. I write my prayers and talk to God in my journal every day. I see how many prayers He answers and how many He doesn’t. I don’t “keep track” but I do have a record of answered and unanswered prayer.

Most recently I’ve been saying lots of prayers for healing and recovery, because of my shoulder surgery. Those long dark nights of pain and silence were hard! Most of the time I sensed God’s presence, but sometime I didn’t…and those were the worst times. If you can trust in God’s presence even when your prayers aren’t answered, you can trust Him through anything! And that is my prayer for you.

6 Tips for Trusting God Despite Your Unanswered Prayers

“Go to God with your burdens,” said Jesus. “Be bold when you pray. Trust that God hears your prayers! And, in ways you don’t fully understand, God will see you through this situation you face.”

Unanswered prayers don’t mean God has abandoned you or doesn’t love you – and they certainly don’t mean we can’t trust Him. Another one of my current unanswered prayers (besides healing from surgery) is my yearning to work overseas, to have a more adventurous and deep walk with God. I want to get out of the boat and take a leap of faith into Jesus’ arms! But I have a husband, two dogs, a church community, a house – and I treasure them. But I pray for a richer life, and am learning how to cope with my unanswered prayers to work overseas again.

1. Consider your expectations of God

Blossom Tips Trusting God Despite Your Unanswered Prayers
Trust God Despite Your Unanswered Prayers

What are you praying for? When you pray to God for that person, thing, or experience, are you focused on getting something out of God…or are you allowing the Holy Spirit to connect with God on your behalf? Figuring out your expectations of God and your motivation for praying will help you learn how to trust Him despite your unanswered prayers. If you expect God to answer all your prayers with a “yes dear” and grant all your wishes like a fairy godmother, then you need to rethink your relationship with Him.

“I must often be glad that certain past prayers of my own were not granted,” wrote CS Lewis in Christian Reflections: Petitionary Prayer. Sometimes we don’t know how lucky we are when our prayers aren’t granted or answered.

2. Be honest about your motivation for your prayer

My motivation for wanting to live and work overseas is almost purely selfish. I love travel, I love change, and I love adapting to new environments and situations. I love learning, and exploring different cultures. I have a lot to offer an overseas employer, and I could even write and blog about wherever I go.

Notice how many “I’s” are in my list of reasons for working overseas? It’s all about me. My unanswered prayers are based on what I want and think I need in life. But the truth is that I don’t even really know what I want and need….God does. I trust Him to answer my prayers when He is ready. And, I trust that He knows what He is doing if He says no to my prayers.

Maybe you’re not praying for adventure and excitement, like I am. Maybe your unanswered prayers involve emotional healing, loss or grief. You may find it helpful to read How to Trust God After Losing Someone You Love.

3. Be patient with unanswered prayers

One of my best tips on how to deal with unanswered prayers is to allow God to work in His own time. I’d love to start my adventure working overseas yesterday, but that wasn’t the time for me. And that’s okay because if I do get to live abroad, I want it to be the best possible time. God knows if and when I should move to a different country. If working overseas is in His plans for me, then it will happen in His time.

I knew a married couple in my Bible Study who wanted to do missions work in Sudan. Their plans were thwarted several times, but are now living in Egypt. They’re learning Sudanese, and are peacefully waiting for God’s direction to Sudan. How did they deal with unanswered prayers when their plans to move overseas were pushed back by more than a year? They were patient (sort of! Sometimes they got impatient).

4. Practice a childlike faith in God

Maybe I should say we need to have a “dog-like faith” in God! My dogs are faithfully devoted to me, and would follow me to the ends of the earth. If I found an open door to working overseas, they’d be right behind me. They follow me through forest trails that are grown in and up mountain paths that seem never-ending. My dogs trust me, and follow me blindly.

I’m learning to trust God wholeheartedly, the way my dogs follow and trust me. But that doesn’t mean I don’t take little actions steps of faith towards working overseas – such as researching ideas for mission trips for introverted people. Practicing a child-like faith in God isn’t passive. Patience and faith can be active tips on how to trust God despite unanswered prayers.

5. Align yourself with God’s will

unanswered prayers how to trust God
How to Trust God Despite Your Unanswered Prayers

What if you aren’t in God’s will? Sometimes I wonder if the reason my prayers to work overseas haven’t been answered is because I’m not in alignment with God’s will for my life. Maybe He wants me to be here, not there. Maybe blogging is where I need to be right now, not working in a different country.

“Prayer is request,” writes CS Lewis in The Efficacy of Prayer. “The essence of request, as distinct from compulsion, is that it may or may not be granted.  And if an infinitely wise Being listens to the requests of finite and foolish creatures, of course He will sometimes grant and sometimes refuse them.”

6. Learn the best way to learn about unanswered prayers

My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers is the best book on trusting God and unanswered prayers. I love this book, and read it every morning.

oswald chambers unanswered prayers

Here’s what Chambers says about not having to ask God what His will is for your life:

“This friendship means being so intimately in touch with God that you never even need to ask Him to show you His will. It is evidence of a level of intimacy which confirms that you are nearing the final stage of your discipline in the life of faith. When you have a right-standing relationship with God, you have a life of freedom, liberty, and delight; you are God’s will. And all of your commonsense decisions are actually His will for you, unless you sense a feeling of restraint brought on by a check in your spirit. You are free to make decisions in the light of a perfect and delightful friendship with God, knowing that if your decisions are wrong He will lovingly produce that sense of restraint. Once he does, you must stop immediately.” Bold emphasis mine.

I love this idea, that we ARE God’s will. How does this relate to unanswered prayers? I am free to pursue a job working overseas even if God doesn’t drop a job offer in my lap. But, I feel a sense of restraint because of our life here. So…perhaps I’m not coping with prayers that aren’t answered. Perhaps His answer right now is no.

And I’m okay with that.

I welcome your thoughts on trusting God despite unanswered prayers. What have you been praying for, and what do you think God is doing in your life? If you’re anxious or fearful, read 3 Easy Ways to Trust God With Your Future.

May your prayers ring straight and true, may you trust God with all your heart, and may the Holy Spirit lead you in peace and joy.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

9 thoughts on “Trusting God Despite Your Unanswered Prayers”

  1. Laurie,
    My trust in God is a very hard thing to come by. I believe that my prayers are in line with God’s will, to help poor and needy people. Yes part of my prayer is also for me, and I have admitted that to God. You see I am one of the poor people. So yes part of my prayers are for me to be delivered from the poverty that my whole life has been. I want to help homeless people get off the streets. That would also give me piece of mind, as I would know that I have done something meaningful. It would be nice as well as I would have a reason to want to get up in the morning. So far God has not answered any (as far as I can tell) of my prayers in the 40 years since turning my life over to God through Jesus. In the 40 years I have never heard even a peep from God, nothing but silence. You said that the only thing worse than unanswered prayers is receiving a NO answer from God. I would be overjoyed if God gave me No answer as that would mean that He is at least answering with something. God’s silence is destroying my trust in Him. I try to praise God for everything in this life, the heartbreak, the misery, the complete lack of hope, the disappointment, the soul crushing silence, the poverty, the lack of skills or talents, the severe depression, the family God took from me, the lack of purpose, a life not worth living, the crushing loneliness, lack of someone to talk to, lack of love and kindness, a meaningless life. To me it seems like God is only concerned with my afterlife. Just being alive isn’t enough. Thanks for giving me a chance to vent. God Bless You

    1. Dear Kenneth,

      Thank you for writing about your journey with God! It warms my heart that you have been faithful to God through prayer and praise for 40 years, despite hearing nothing but silence. Trusting God is not easy with all those years of unanswered prayers! To top it all off, God seems to have taken family, life, emotional health, companionship and love from you.

      And yet, you still believe in God. You still have a relationship with him and you know you will meet him in your afterlife. I wonder what keeps you connected, what keeps your faith alive? Could it be possible that God himself is keeping those embers of faith and hope alive in you?

      I will keep you in my prayers, Kenneth. I pray for a sense of God’s presence — of the indwelling Holy Spirit to come alive in you, in fresh new ways. I pray for peace, healing, hope and joy. May you meet God beside the still waters. May you release the hope or expectation of answered prayers, and instead rest in the power and comfort of God’s presence. And — above all — may you know that God closer than your own breath and heartbeat even if you don’t sense his presence.

      With His love,

      1. Laurie,
        The only thing keeping me from completely giving up on God is fear of a Hell worse than the Hell I’m already in.

  2. May you find hope and faith as you continue to trust God even while your prayers aren’t answered quickly. I pray that you experience a deeper relationship with Jesus through this experience, and that your faith keeps growing no matter what life brings. I pray that you feel God’s presence in real and powerful ways, and that you know how much He loves you despite unanswered prayers. May you find peace and love that surpasses all understanding through the Holy Spirit’s wisdom and grace.

  3. Hello, am called Carol Nampandu. I have spent 5years without working, I have been called up for interviews but I never the jobs. In my country Uganda most people are hired because they know / connected to someone in that organization he/she is looking for employment. Me I don’t know any1 there. Its had living in Uganda without a job. Life is difficult. I have prayed, fasted, done all that God requires but still am never employed. My prayers are not answered. I desperately need a job. Please pray for me. My heart is deeply broken.

  4. I’ve been struggling with unemployment and im tired of asking things from people, been praying about it even making efforts to apply but in the end i just get more frustrated and disappointed, honestly im questioning my existence right now

  5. I’ll keep you in my prayers, Patrick. May you find peace and healing, love and joy in your life. And may your faith and trust in God be increased beyond all measure! May you experience the blessed rest of complete and total faith in Him, that He really is working all things together for your good.

    I know it’s easy to say “trust God” — and much more difficult to actually do it! I’m glad you see Him in the small things in your life…how much more does He care about the little things? A million trillion, believe me.

    When I’m struggling for practical ways to trust God despite my unanswered prayers, I move forward in different directions. For instance, I really want to adopt a “gypsy lifestyle” and just pack up my laptop and backpack and roam the world. But I can’t because I have a husband I adore, dogs I love, and a house I’m mortgage-ly tied to. So my dream of roaming the world writing about stuff I see and hear is alive only in my heart.

    So instead of pursuing that dream, I am volunteering at a Christmas Camp for adults with physical and mental disabilities. I’m here from Dec 22-26 (and getting up at 5 am to respond to comments on my blogs!). This is an amazing way to spend my Christmas….and a way to pursue the desires of my heart (which God has planted in my soul) while accepting where He has put me.

    What can you do to pursue the desires of your heart, accept where God has put you, and trust Him despite your unanswered prayers?

  6. Hello;

    I have been struggling with anxiety/ depression/ OCD for most of my life. As a result of this, I took antidepressants for over 14 years. I have been struggling with erectile dysfunction during and after taking these drugs. I’ve also had a couple physical problems here and there too. I was lured to a job where I was given the impression that I would be hired on and have a better life. I thought God directed me here, yet they are keeping me on contract instead. Finally, I am lonely. At 42, I have given up looking for a wife. God seems to be present in the small things, but absent in the big things I need in life. Please pray for me as I and others have with no success.