The Bible doesn’t answer all our specific questions, but understandings about prayer can evolve as does our relationship with God. We can rule out unanswered prayers as God’s fault as if God created suffering or our fault due to lack of faith. The biblical writers thought prayer was important, but the Bible is clear that we will not be healed of all physical or emotional ailments by just having enough faith. Such erroneous advice can be emotionally devastating.
Genuine freedom must involve the right to do as much harm in proportion to how much good one can do
Prayer isn’t as complicated if we accept the challenges of running a free universe. God may not intervene hoping one eventually freely chooses to love. Who thinks forced than chosen love changes the world unless just out to control? God can’t make one to want to be a better parent. God can’t control evil here on earth if God creates freedom.
We can pray without knowing what difference it may make due to all the factors involved
We act morally though not knowing the impact on relationships if any. We can pray for safety but one is free to drive drunk. God’s accepts certain restraints because of the gift of freedom, though God is surely doing all they can to influence for good.
Suffering isn’t God’s design but God can influence others for good
Suffering sometimes can accomplish more so God may not answer (i.e. Jesus’ death). But, we can’t always know this because of so many factors. Jesus’ prayer to avoid the Cross may be the best model in times of suffering: God if there is a better reason to not intervene please stay close to me. God doesn’t cause or want us to suffer. Pray for healings but will we trust that God knows best how to oversee a free world, and a loving God always act in the best interests of all.
If you seek forgiveness but don’t forgive yourself, think again!
God can’t always forgive if one doesn’t forgive others. That would make God an enabler and afraid to challenge you to change. If you regret how your actions harm others, know though God is a God of a thousand chances and keep seeking help from others.
Talking and getting to know God can lead to the encouragement we desperately need
Don’t underestimate the power of support. Prayer isn’t just asking God to grant wishes like a genie in a bottle. We tell our children associating with the right people leads to making wiser choices. I talk with my wife, knowing she can’t solve the problem, but I feel less burdened and supported.
We can be confident of many prayers that are always answered
God has endless mercy and forgiveness so we don’t give up no matter how demoralized we may feel. We know God is speaking when we hear: I love you, I forgive you; I won’t abandon you; I want what you want deep down.
God created freedom and not a world where future decisions are already determined
We don’t need God to speak to us specifically about many decisions in life. God supports our freedom to make future decisions based on our gifts and aspirations. We are free without strings attached as God invites our participation to make for a better world.
Prayer is not a substitute for action
It is easier sometimes to pray for someone than take supportive actions which is the most common way that God answers prayers. Rather than praying your friend’s spouse stop drinking which is harming their family, see if your friend would rather you say something to their spouse. When you know two friends are in conflict, speak to the one wrongly denying any wrongdoing. God seeks permission to use our lives to help others.