COLUMNIST:Pastor’s Pen

Why is it that if God is all powerful and all loving our prayers often go unanswered? by Rev Andy Heber.

Tuesday, 6th July 2021, 11:30 am

There are some things in my life that I’ve been praying for for years, but God remains silent and seemingly unmoved by my requests.

How does this seeming indifference to our needs affect our faith and our view of God?

In my ministry I’ve seen two very different reactions.

Rev Andy Heber - vicar of Carnmoney Parish Church

Some people get very angry with God and feel almost betrayed by him. Consequently, they turn their backs on him and often stop going to church and praying, concluding that at best God is indifferent, at worst vindictive.

Others though will cling to God and keep praying, seeking him all the more. Despite their pain and their perplexity they still somehow trust that God is good and loves them. Even though they can’t understand why he doesn’t respond, they believe that he sees the bigger picture and are content to continue trusting him.

Prayer remains a deep mystery and we may never understand why our prayers aren’t answered.

Pete Greig in his excellent book: “God on Mute” wrestles with this and actually gives 16 reasons why maybe God doesn’t answer prayer; but one of his strategies for coping I found particularly helpful. It comes from the writings of C.S. Lewis: not his theological writing, but from his Narnia book: “The Magician’s Nephew”.

The book’s central character Digory is struggling because his mother is dying. Ending up in Narnia he asks the great lion Aslan if he can gather some magic fruit to make his mother well, but Aslan ignores him. Plucking up his courage he asks again: With tears in his eyes, Digory blurted out: “But please won’t you – can’t you give me something that will cure mother?”

Up till then he had been looking at the Lion’s great feet and the huge claws on them; now in despair he looked up at its face. What he saw surprised him. For the tawny face was bent down near his own and great shining tears stood in the Lion’s eyes. They were such big, bright tears compared to Digory’s own that for a moment he felt as if the Lion must really be sorrier about his mother than he was himself. What a lovely picture!

If we can look into God’s face when we pray: even in the face of unanswered prayer we will know he understands, cares and loves us.