In this episode:
Have you ever wondered if God isn’t hearing your prayers? It’s more difficult than a country song about unanswered prayers being God’s greatest gifts. This episode explores questions about prayer.
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Discussion Highlights from "What if It Feels as if God Isn’t Listening?"
- I’ve been observing conversations in several groups that I’m part of, and I have seen this a common thread. This wondering if God has overlooked your heartfelt cries or if he has ignored them altogether. The pain runs deep when we know what God can do and wonder why he doesn’t do it. It does sometimes seem as if someone else gets all the breaks.
- “I feel as if God answers everyone else’s prayers and not mine.” Think of some of the emotions hidden in that statement: discouragement, weariness, anger, fear, loneliness, shame, heartache, and more.
- It’s hard when God’s plans don’t make sense. The apostle Paul pleaded with God to remove an ongoing struggle from his life, and God chose not to. Paul saw miracles, even performed them, in others. But God didn’t remove his struggle. He used that painful, daily reminder to press into God’s presence and power more.
- King David had many moments of wondering where God was. He wondered why he seemed so far away. He wondered why his enemies flourished. When David felt this way, he gave those feelings to God. Instead of working harder to overcome them, he surrendered them to God in full honestly.
- What if we told God how we feel, chose to trust his unfailing love, and filled our hearts with gratitude for what we have?
- Psalm 13
Wait and See: Finding Peace in God's Pauses and Plans by Wendy Pope. This hands-on guidebook invites readers to record their own waiting discoveries. With practical suggestions and real-life stories, Wendy shows readers how they can be active in the present as they hope for the future.
Song to listen to for encouragement: "Jesus Strong and Kind"
Have you ever thought that maybe God doesn't hear your prayers? Or he's blocking you? Do you feel as if you aren't good enough to receive good things from him? Perhaps you've been hurt by unhelpful things someone has said when you were brave enough to express your feelings about your unanswered prayers. It's a lot more difficult than a country song about unanswered prayers being God's greatest gifts. Today, let's explore how it feels to be waiting for answers, and how to respond when that gets difficult. This is an episode to make you think a little bit. Whether it's about your own struggle, or about that of a friend that's having a struggle. We're gonna look at some of the pat answers that we give and look for a different way to respond in a way that can be helpful to a friend instead of something that just keeps on the shame. So come along, as we explore prayer today.
You're listening to Life Repurposed, where you'll find practical biblical wisdom for everyday living, creative inspiration, and helpful resources. Grow your faith, improve your relationships, discover your purpose, and reach your goals with topics to encourage you to find hope amid the trashy stuff of life. Thanks for joining me today. I'm your host, Michelle Rayburn.
Do you ever wonder if God loves you less than someone else? Because it seems as if he answers their prayers and not yours? Do you feel as if you aren't good enough to have good things from him? Do you often think God plays favorites or that he doesn't care about your needs as much as those of others? I've been observing conversations in several groups that I'm part of. And I've seen this as a common thread. This wondering if God has overlooked your heartfelt cries, or if he's ignored them altogether. The pain runs so deep when we know what God can do. And we wonder why he doesn't do it. It does sometimes seem as if someone else gets all the breaks. I've also noted that when someone shares these feelings, others are often full of answers that include how they should change their way of thinking. Should is a powerful word. It can keep on more of the sense of discouragement. It implies a “try harder” attitude or a simple pat on the back that minimizes the hurt. I want to tackle this topic today. But I want to be clear that this is not a “five tips for how we're praying wrong” talk. What we'll do instead is look at the root of those feelings, and then talk about some ways to address them in a way that repurposes them into constructive thoughts. And I'll also talk about how to be a listening friend to someone who feels as if God has tuned out their needs. We might want to have pat answers to someone's “why “questions, when what we really need to be equipped with is an empathetic, I don't really know.
Let's start with this statement. Someone might say “I feel as if God answers everyone else's prayers and not mine.
Here's what typically happens when someone says this. A friend runs through a list of things including suggesting the person might not have enough faith, or they might be asking with the wrong motives or that they might have some sin in their life that is holding back God's favor. My advice to everyone who wants to say these things is “Stop it.”
Stop piling on guilt. Stop implying your friend is praying wrong or isn't spiritually Enough. Stop playing God. What if that friend has solid faith? All the right motives and no hidden sin in their life? Then what? What is the root of that statement that your friend has made? “I feel as if God answers everyone else's prayers and not mine.” This friend is earnestly asking God for something over and over and they continue to wait. Think of some of the emotions hidden in that statement. discouragement, weariness, anger, fear, loneliness, shame, heartache, and more. It feels to them as if God's will isn't fair.
Listener, I want you to know that I see you. I see that it's hard when God's plans don't make sense. The apostle Paul pleaded with God to remove an ongoing struggle from his life, and God chose not to. Paul saw miracles in others, he even performed them in others. But God didn't remove his own struggle. God used that painful daily reminder as a way for the apostle Paul to press into God's presence and power even more. But that doesn't make it easier. Rather than give advice on where your roadblock might be today, I want to stand beside you and pray that in the midst of the waiting God I would make his presence known to you that you would experience the sweet comfort of staying by his side while you wait. I'll ask him to give you wisdom for how he wants you to pray, and awareness of anything that he wants you to focus on while you're waiting.
Let's look at another statement. “I don't think I'm good enough for good things from God.”
Here, we're tempted to rush in and reassure someone that they are good enough. But those reassurances can sound so fake, or we might say something like, “None of us is good enough.” And despite that being biblically true, it doesn't ease the heartbreak. What is the root of this statement? Think about it. Shame, past abuse, PTSD, lies from the devil, confusion, doubt, sadness. I've seen people who have been tossed out of a Christian community after some sort of failure in the midst of a time when they most needed loving support to help them get back on track. This type of thinking permeates many Christian circles. And then it also permeates our minds when we start to wonder why it is, as God seems as if he has kicked us out of His blessings. So let's go back to God's character in nature and ask more questions. Instead of giving pat answers, those questions can include what do you know to be true about God? Now remember, this is true about God not true about your experience in the church, or true about your experience with your friends, or other Christians or anything like that? What do you know to be true about God? What do you know about his love? What do you know about his grace? Based on what you know about who he is? Where do you think the idea that you aren't good enough comes from? You know, when Jesus was tempted by Satan, he fought back with Scripture. And when we're tempted to believe something that isn't true about God or about ourselves, the only way to fight back is with solid truth from Scripture. We're going to continue with that thought in a moment. But first a word from our sponsor today.
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The last statement I want to look at today is this one: “I think God plays favorites and listens to others more than to me.” Do you remember being in school and noticing that certain people got all the attention from the teachers? We live in a culture of more, try harder, work harder, do more, give more strive more, it's easy for us to mistake God's nature and think that we need to do more instead of surrender more, because in life, we've had to try harder, do more, work more, all of those things in order to get attention.
But that isn't how God works. King David had many moments of wondering where God was. He wondered why he seemed so far away. He wondered why his enemies flourished. When David felt this way, he gave those feelings to God. And instead of working harder to overcome them, he surrendered them to God in full honesty. And throughout the psalms, David writes down so many of his thoughts, asking God honestly, where are you? And how long will you stay away from me? So he understands how it feels to be in that place of wondering, Is God paying more attention to someone else than he is to me? There's this passage from Psalm 13 that I want to read to you. It says,
“Oh, Lord, how long will you forgive me? Forever?
How long will you look the other way?
How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul with sorrow in my heart every day?
How long will my enemy have the upper hand?
Turn an answer me. Oh, Lord, my God.
Restore the sparkle to my eyes or I will die.
Don't let my enemies gloat saying we have defeated him.
Don't let them rejoice in my downfall.
But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me.
I will sing to the Lord because He is good to me.
Listener do you feel today as if God has forgotten you or look the other way? There are three things here in this psalm that give us a starting point for what to do if it seems as if God isn't listening to our heartfelt please. And these are not to-do list things. These are not shoulds. These are just simply an example from somebody who has stood in your shoes and knows what it feels like to be wondering of God's hearing your prayer at all.
First, what we see David do here is being honest about how he feels. So number one, be honest about how you feel poured out, tell God how you feel, how long will you withhold this from me, God? How long will I be waiting? He might not give you a clear answer. He didn't to David, either. It's this hypothetical question of how long will this be? It's just the pouring out of honest feelings.
The second thing that we can see from this example is to trust in what we know about God's unfailing love. David trusted because he knew that God does not fail even when it seemed as if he was failing. He said, I'm going to trust in what I know. And that's what we can do to when it seems as if God doesn't love us, we can trust and know that His love is unfailing. And even when we don't feel it, it's still there, he still loves you.
The last thing that we can see from what David did here is praise. David sang a song to the Lord. We can sing to the Lord and thank him for the goodness we see. We can thank him for the goodness we do have, while we're waiting for the thing we so long to see happen. So we can be honest about how we feel we can trust and what we know about God's unfailing love. And we can sing to the Lord and thank him for the goodness we see. What if we did that every day? A repurposed life is one that focuses on finding treasure in the trash. Amid our raw natural emotions, there are still glimmers of hope.
And so that's what I want to leave you with today. This sense that there is hope in your journey to the God has not left you that he is there with you. And so what I'm here to do is to stand alongside you, to lift you up in prayer to ask God to reveal Himself in new ways, as you wait for him to come and show you what the next step is, as you wait for him to answer that cry of your heart. So I'm here and I'm offering if you want to reach out to me on an email or on any social media platform, drop me a prayer and I will lift you up to the Lord as you wait earnestly.
Now, before I leave today, I want to leave you with a resource. I've mentioned this book before on the podcast. And I want to mention it again because I think this is a really great resource if you're in the waiting in life right now. And that is a book by Wendy Pope—Wait and See: Finding Peace in God's Pauses and Plans.
We recently did this in the Life repurposed book club and had some really great discussion about Wendy's process of waiting and what she learned. She actually gave examples from King David was really much more extensive than what I gave you in this podcast today. This is a hands-on guidebook that invites you to record your own waiting discoveries. With practical suggestions and real-life stories. Wendy shows readers how they can be active in the present, as they hope for the future. So I encourage you to get wait and see finding peace in God's pauses and plans. The other thing that I want to leave to is going to be in the show notes. I'm not going to be able to play any of it on the air here because of copyright. But I want you to go to the link in the show notes to the song “Jesus Strong and Kind” from CityAlight.It's just for you to listen to and be encouraged in those words. And it's just about trusting in Jesus. I love the little kids singing in the background on the song. So that's just my gift to you something to encourage your heart today. Thank you so much for being with me. I will be back next week as I talk with Chris Martin, about social media and how we can use it for the good and how we can watch out for certain things as well as we hang out on those social media platforms. So you want to tune in for that interview next week. Thank you so much for listening.
You've been listening to like repurposed with Michelle Rayburn. Check out tips, resources, and inspiration at Michelle rayburn.com to get the show notes for this episode. Each week I share links to everything mentioned in the episode graphics you can share and guest quotes. I also invite you to join the Life Repurposed Facebook community for weekly conversation with others on the journey of discovering the repurpose life before you go. Which friend needs to hear this episode, share a link with a note to invite them to listen.
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