Sermon Series “Why: Making sense of God’s will” – Week 2: Why Do my prayers go unanswered?
Psalm 22: 1-5, John 15:1-7
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Last week we talked about the relationship between God’s goodness and suffering. How do we understand God’s actions when we are facing suffering? Did God will and plan sufferings that we see on earth like flood, earthquake, violence or illness? Is that because God wants to teach, fix or punish us? Unlike the past, in the ancient times, for most disasters we have knowledge about why that happens and what to do to make adjustments and prepare. For illness, there are unexpected illnesses and we don’t always know exactly what causes it, but we all know our bodies are mortal and it is true that we all get old and weak. For those suffering from violence, injustice, like criminals, we know that it is our responsibility to make decisions right so that my decision, my action doesn’t cause harm to others. So actually we cannot say God causes those sufferings. Rather God is loving and just, eager to love us, rather than judge and punish. So, what we learn from the Bible is about those who don’t let go of their faith in God. Nobody can avoid suffering even those who have been faithful throughout their whole life like Job in the Bible. But, what they show us is that they don’t give up their faith in suffering. We found it is easy to blame God when suffering because the situation is not what we want, what we prayed for, so we are
disappointed. But we are invited again to believe that God promises to sustain us, strengthen us, walk with us, and bring good from it all, not because God caused the pain but because God loves us.
But then, as we believe God doesn’t will bad things to happen, what are our prayers for? Why do we pray? And we know God hears all our prayers, but why God does not answer all of them.
Think about times that you have prayed, prayed for healing or getting a job or finance crisis…. Can you say it was answered immediately or exactly as it was expected like a bending machine whenever you press the button? I’m sure many people struggle with their faith because of God’s silence when they pray hard to God in their time of great need. Or in other cases, we say easily, ‘God answers!’ in times like watching sports when a player got points. So, when God answers and what God does not? God answers for sports games but not for the prayers for those who have serious illness?
Matthew 21:21-22: “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt . . . even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ it will be done. Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive.”