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good prayers unanswered

Let me hear what God the LORD will speak, 
for he will speak peace to his people, 
to his saints; 
but let them not turn back to folly."  

(Psalm 85:8 ESV)

One of the more difficult things to face in the Christian life is when good prayers are seemingly unanswered.  We can understand why the Lord would not answer prayers that request harmful things, but what about prayers for those things that God seems to approve?  

Puritan Thomas Goodwin, in his work, The Return of Prayers, notes...

"God approves many things he decrees not." 

That is, though he may not give us what we are asking, the things we have asked for are good and he is pleased that we have asked him for them.  It is important, Goodwin notes, to see that God does respond in answer by revealing himself, his peace, or with a sustaining promise...

"That God reveals himself is the answer he intends to some prayers, and it is answer enough."

"For God to quiet, and calm, and give contentment to the heart seeking him is to find an answer."

"When he recalls a promise to our minds, this is an answer, and is precious." 

Sometimes the answer to a prayer is God himself.  There may be an issue of timing with the answer we expect, or perhaps the good thing we seek may not be actually good for us.  But one thing we can be sure of is that our Father hears us, that he is pleased when we call upon him, and he will give us what we need for that moment.  

As a good father he always gives of himself to sustain his children, whether with the answer expected or with his presence, his peace, or his promises. We need to be alert and thankful to the ways in which he answers us with himself.  


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