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Unanswered Prayer

Rather than getting easier, my faith trials become more difficult with time.
By Barbara Rainey

This morning I woke up sad.  Nothing dramatic happened. No life altering news had been delivered.  In fact before going to bed last night we received good news about our next grandchild.

Still, I woke up with the question, “How do I have joy when it seems that so much is unsettled, unresolved, and unrestored in my life, my relationships, my world?”  I cannot list publicly all the relationships that need mending, the problems that feel overwhelming and unresolvable, or put a name to the general anxiety that creeps in regularly from life in this volatile world.  Like a cloud that keeps building till it blocks out the sun, I’m feeling chilled in the shadows, even on this bright sunny day.

After fixing my coffee, I settled on the couch with my Bible.  A question in my study asked me to read Daniel 10, which says, “I, Daniel, had been mourning for three entire weeks.”  This was not a man given to exaggeration, so he made it clear he mourned not for parts of three weeks, but for 21 straight days.  Nor was Daniel an ordinary man, for he was repeatedly titled “man of high esteem” in his frequent interactions with angelic beings.  Mistakenly we think a visit by an angel would be thrilling and life-giving.  Daniel found it exhausting and life draining.

What seems to have caused his three weeks of mourning was unanswered prayer.  Visions of the future and visits from heaven did not erase his sadness over unanswered prayer.  Burdened, perplexed, waiting long saps joy.  Feeling what Daniel felt is of comfort.  At least I’m not alone. 

When God doesn’t come through, then what?  That’s the shadow casting sadness for me right now.  And nothing can be done but wait. 

Living for Jesus is costly business.  How easily I forget that following Him is a life of difficulty as He helps me throw off those distractions, mistaken assumptions, and sinful patterns that keep me from seeing Him clearly?  I became all His decades ago, but His refining work never ceases. 

Rather than getting easier, my faith trials become more difficult with time. Baby steps for babies.  Grownup strides for the mature.  I want to be mature so I must accept His purifying work that is individualized for me even when I can’t see the next step ahead.

I’ve been in this place before, so I know He will continue His work until He pleases to pause. The sun will shine again.  And if the answers to my prayers don’t come at all or as I expected I will choose to believe and follow.  Jesus loves me this I know.  And that is all that matters.

Here’s a prayer for you and me that was written in 1916:  “Cause Thy face to be upon the dark places through which we be called to pass this day and may we be made to feel that it is better to hold on to Thy hand in the dark than to walk alone in the light.”

© Copyright FamilyLife 2013.  All rights reserved.

FamilyLife is a donor-supported ministry offering practical and biblical resources and events to help you build a godly marriage and family.

Meet the Author: Barbara Rainey

Barbara Rainey is a wife, mother of six adult children (plus three sons-in-law and two daughters-in-law), and "Mimi" to nineteen grandchildren.

After graduating from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, Barbara joined the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ in 1971. She and her husband, Dennis, whom she married in 1972, are co-founders of FamilyLife, a ministry of Cru that is headquartered in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Barbara has published articles on family-related topics and is the author of Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember and When Christmas Came.  She speaks at FamilyLife's Weekend to Remember® marriage conferences and is a frequent guest on FamilyLife Today®, a nationally syndicated, daily radio program.  She and Dennis are the coauthors of several books, including Growing a Spiritually Strong Family, Starting Your Marriage Right, Moments Together for Couples, The New Building Your Mate's Self-Esteem, Parenting Today's Adolescent, Rekindling the Romance, and Moments with You. She co-authored A Mother's Legacy with her daughter, Ashley Rainey Escue and joined Dennis and their children Rebecca and Samuel on the book So You're About To Be A Teenager. Barbara has also co-authored Barbara and Susan's Guide to the Empty Nest, with close friend Susan Yates, and A Symphony in the Dark, written with her daughter, Rebecca Rainey Mutz. And Barbara has written a series focusing on character traits for families, including the titles Growing Together in Gratitude, Growing Together in Courage, Growing Together in Forgiveness, and Growing Together in Truth.

Having faithfully served alongside Dennis for more than 30 years, both in ministry and at home, Barbara has recently launched a new endeavor called Ever Thine Home™.  This new line of products, including Christ centered ornaments for Christmas, teaching tools for Lent and Easter, and beautiful additions for your home for thanksgiving and year round makes it easy to express faith at home in a way that is both biblical and beautiful.  Her heart for Ever Thine Home is based on the familiar Old Testament instruction:

"And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." (Deuteronomy 6:9, ESV)

You can read more about Barbara's work at

Find Barbara online on:
Twitter @BarbaraRainey and Facebook



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