I remember when I was a Christian that there was the idea that God always answers prayers, even if the answer isn’t something we always want to hear; or maybe that the answer was “no” which would look to us like it was unanswered. I even remember an old country song about it . . . (oh yes, I looked it up and it’s Garth Brooks’ song “Unanswered Prayers”).
Some people give ‘unanswered prayers’ as a reason for why they don’t believe in God or why they don’t pray. That’s really sad to me; because really, God probably didn’t give them what they wanted because it wasn’t something good for them, or because God has another plan in mind for them.
Islam also shares in the belief that God always answers prayers. And I have found that there are actually some really good explanations offered for why we sometimes don’t get what we ask for. One such explanation was read yesterday in our sobhet group, coming from Said Nursi’s The Words:
“To answer is one thing, to accept is something quite different. Every supplication is answered, but its being accepted and exactly what was sought being given is dependent on Almighty God’s wisdom. For example, if a sick child calls the doctor, saying: “Doctor! Doctor!”, and he replies: “Here I am, what do you want?”, and the child says: “Give me that medicine!”, the doctor will either give him exactly what he asks for or something better and more beneficial for him. Or knowing that medicine is harmful for his illness, he will give him nothing.” (p. 325)
God, in his infinite wisdom, knows what we need better than we know what we need. He knows the outcome of events when we do not. I try to think of this whenever some annoying or ‘unfortunate’ event happens in my life. For example, I’m driving and miss my turn and have to go back around– maybe I would have been in a car accident if I had made my turn; I didn’t get the job I wanted– maybe there’s a better job out there; I’m not able to participate in an event I wanted to go to– maybe God has other plans for me at that time. When I think of things in this way, it keeps me calm and keeps me from getting angry or frustrated.
Things happen in this life that we don’t understand. But God sees the big picture and has everything under His control. So the next time you don’t get what you wanted, or something unfortunate happens to you, remember that there is a purpose behind everything– and even if you do not understand why, know that there is a reason.
Have you had times in your life when you God didn’t grant what you prayed for, and you understood later why this was for the best?