Why does god answer some prayers and not others? Why would a good and loving god allow so much pain and suffering to happen to good people when he could intervene? Atheists often like to point to this as a way of challenging Christians, but it’s no good. I am sure there are Christians who are burdened by these thoughts, but most people of faith find this one easy to reconcile. At least, as long as they aren’t currently the good person suffering under god’s silence. Then it becomes personal.
If you know god, you know that he is not to be questioned. He sees the bigger picture. He’s smarter than we are. He has a plan. And he loves us. We live in a world filled with sin created from our own free will. There is a battle for our souls between god and Satan, and Satan is allowed to tempt us here on earth while we are separated from god. But god wants us to prevail and he will give us the armor we need to protect ourselves. If we simply ask.
We trust god. We know that this earth is not our home and what happens here means nothing in comparison to our eternal reward in heaven. If we come to god in prayer with faithful hearts, he will answer our prayers in his own way and time. And that is enough. We do not have to agree with his answer. In fact, when we cry up to god in anger after we do not get the answer we had hoped for, that is when we are truly tested. If we persevere we will come out of it with a stronger faith and sense of hope.
In case you stumbled across this out of context, I do not believe god exists. I used to. I understood the world through these eyes, and I found value in prayer. It was a comfort. I didn’t expect him to perform miracles under my command, but if I was burdened I could turn it all over to god and ask him to take control of my life. I would let go and trust in his will. I knew that as long as I trusted him, he would lead me to the right decisions and I wouldn’t have to worry. I would see evidence of it everywhere and feel confident that no matter what the future held, I was okay because I was following god’s will. As long as you believe in it, the process works.
This is one of the most powerful holds Christianity has on people. It’s a coping strategy for everything. It is also one of its fatal errors. Why? Because whether we speak of it or not, all Christians do believe that this type of prayer is always answered. Without exception. It’s the real reason we pray. We can rationalize a million tragedies and give it all over to god knowing he may or may not answer according to our desire. But if we ask for stronger faith, or for him to lead us according to his will? We never wonder if he will answer those prayers. Of course he will. Our genuine desire to be more godly is always part of his plan. It’s how he protects us in this sinful world.
This is the beginning of doubt for many Christians. When your faith is in the balance your first response is to turn it over to god, just like you have done with success a million times before. When you see no results you assume that you must not have come to him with enough sincerity. You are doubting, after all. So you try harder. At some point during your crisis of faith you will become desperate. You will now be 100% sure that you are coming to god with a faithful heart. Perhaps with more sincerity than you have ever felt in your life. And nothing. Silence.
Now, if you think that Christians sometimes slip and get angry with god for not answering prayers about life and death, you cannot imagine the anger that comes from god not answering the prayers he is required to answer. Part of you thinks it means he isn’t real, but you are still so new to that way of thinking that you also hate him for it. Not answering a sincere prayer asking for spiritual help changes everything about your relationship. Why bother praying at all? Why does god not care? He HAS to care about me. Because if he doesn’t, and this part of prayer isn’t real, then nothing about what I believe makes sense anymore. What else isn’t real?
And this is also the beginning of a whole new journey.