Gary E. Yates, writing at Christianity.com has taken it upon himself to explain unanswered prayer in his article: “Answers for Unanswered Prayer.”
He starts out with a little story about Dale Earnhardt praying with his pastor before the race in which Dale crashed and died.
Yates goes on to ask some very important questions:
We have all had the experience of unanswered prayer. We pray for God’s healing for a loved one. We pray for God to bring revival and renewal to our churches. We pray for the suicide bombings to end and for our troops to come home. Why does nothing seem to change when God has promised us, “Ask and you will receive”? Is Jesus being totally truthful when he tells us, “If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it”?
We are expecting Yates to explain this to us: Why? Why does nothing change when God has promised us? Did Jesus lie?
But, as we well know, Yates can not explain this conundrum and he certainly can not or will not admit that Jesus lied or that any part of the Bible is wrong.
Great theologians have pontificated on this very subject and have said just what Yates is about to blather about. And yet, the question remains. Yates forges on like a trouper, telling us that we need to maintain our perspective in the face of the great, deafening “silence of heaven.”
Yates’ explanation is as follows:
1. “We need to remember that God is answering our prayers even before we pray them.”
That’s odd, considering that in the paragraph just before that he told about the Israelites having to wait twelve whole chapters before God “answered” their prayers in the desert. So, waiting means God is already answering. This is cognitive dissonance at its best.
Translation: It may seem like you’re not getting an answer, but God’s working on it! Try not to die in a fiery crash before he gets a round to it.
2. “We need to remember God’s care and concern even when our prayers are not being answered.”
He just said that our prayers are being asnwered even before we pray them and now he tells us how to behave when they are “not being answered.”
Translation: Don’t stop believing! God still cares about you and is concerned, even though all evidence (like dying in a fiery crash) says otherwise. God may not answer your prayer, but he cares.
3. “We need to remember that when we pray, things may get worse before they get better.”
This is the handy excuse for why God doesn’t answer your prayers like he promised. And of course, we must recognize the fact that very often things get worse, and then you die in a fiery crash.
4. “We need to remember that unanswered prayer is not an indication of God’s lack of power.”
Right. He’s not ignoring you because he can’t help you. He could save you from the fiery crash; he has the power. Don’t forget that. He could if he wanted to. He just doesn’t want to.
Yates concludes: “Whether God’s answer to our prayers is ‘Yes,’ ‘No,’ or ‘Wait,’ his answers are always the perfect expression of his love and power in our lives.”
God’s answer to Dale Earnhardt’s prayer was the perfect expression of God’s love and power.
There could be any number of reasons why God didn’t answer the prayer of Dale Earnhardt. Maybe he didn’t pray correctly, or specifically. Maybe he wasn’t the right sect or religion. Maybe God isn’t as benevolent and/or omnipotent as his follwers claim. Or maybe God doesn’t exist.
Either way, despite Yates’ ruminating, we’re still left with the big “Why?” Why does it say in the Bible that whenever you ask anything in Jesus’ name you will have it, when that is clearly completely false.
And the bigger question: Why do Christians still try to make excuses for their A. powerless B. cruel, or C. non-existent God?