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  • Writer's pictureBrandi Bourne

Unanswered prayers

Updated: Mar 30

I had a bit of a “silly” prayer recently. At the park I walk in nearly daily now, there is this huge tree that can be seen from just about every angle. It stands tall next to the water and it’s the only one like it in that part of the park. Problem is, the tree died some time over the winter. It's not a seasonal tree to my knowledge but one that should live year round, a pine tree. Now it sits marked with a red banner, which is what they did to all of the trees that have died, presumably so they can remove them. Most of the other smaller trees now have leaves growing on them as spring is now in full force. The grass is turning from brown to green and life is coming back to every other part of the park. Except this tree.

It made me sad to see this once majestic tree now without life. I am a nature lover at heart and hate to see anything die. Well, my Bible says that with God all things are possible. It says that we can move mountains with our faith. So, I laid hands on that tree. Yep, I stood there and prayed for a tree. I know, I know it’s silly. Take a minute to laugh it's ok. But for me this was almost like a test of faith, a moment I asked myself “do I really believe I serve the God of resurrection life who can do anything?” I serve a God of life that can raise the dead – the Bible didn’t clarify if that was people only. So, for the last 2 months, every time I pass the tree, I speak life over it. The Word says the power of life and death is in our tongue. Sometimes I’ll go touch the tree, like that somehow is going to make a difference in if God answers the prayer. (Lay hands on the sick and they shall recover? Jesus grabbed the little girls hand in that one story...Elijah and Elisha over here laying on people I mean touch does something, right?) The issue isn’t IF God can do it – I know He can. Though I would probably still freak out (with joy) if I saw green on that tree. The real question is WILL He do it. Is it His will to bring that tree back to life? I didn’t really ask that when I started praying for it. Which is another lesson itself that I am learning about prayer and strategy right now.

This morning it occurred to me there’s a chance this tree doesn’t come back. It got me thinking about unanswered prayers. What do we do when we’re praying so hard for something to come to pass, but it doesn't? Now there is a good chance that the Lord is having us wait on His timing too. But there’s also going to be times that He says no, and we have to accept that answer. I’ve had many prayers go unanswered in my life. Not as many as I have answered ones. And I have prayers that seem to be “pending” right now. Promises that have yet to come to pass. Things I’ve been asking God for years to answer. Most of those involve people or something internally rather than material things. How do I act when the prayer isn’t answered? Do I act like a spoiled brat (yes that’s a reference to my post last year)? Or do I choose to praise Him in the midst of it?

See here’s the trap I fall into sometimes. I think I’m “entitled” to an answered prayer because I serve God faithfully. Because I do a lot for Him, I start thinking that He owes me. What a foolish mindset to have. To think that the Creator of the Universe owes ME? The one who saved my life, the one who gave His life for my soul – He owes me? I think not. My friend, don’t fall for that trap. He owes us nothing. But we owe Him everything. And yet, in His incredible love, He answers our prayers. Like the good Father He is, He provides for us in so many ways. I think we forget that sometimes. And if you think He’s not providing for you, you are mistaken. I know for a fact that He is because how are you even reading this right now? Whether on a phone that has a bill that is paid or, or through a computer that has internet which has been paid for – you are the recipient of some type of provision. My point here is that you have a lot to be grateful for. You know some of the angriest, most bitter people I’ve met are that way because they have been hurt and refuse to let go, and they refuse to be grateful for what’s going right in their life. Don’t be that person. Let go of the hurt and choose to be grateful because it is a choice.

So, what do you do when God’s not answering your prayer to be healed, or to have a loved one healed? What do you do when that bill doesn’t get paid and you’re on the brink of losing everything? What do you do when that lost child turns against you and refuses to turn back? What do you do when the breakthrough isn’t coming in time? What do you do when the provision isn’t coming? What do you do when the home sale falls through? What do you do when that family member refuses to turn to God? What do you do when God’s not restoring your marriage or you’re single and the future spouse is nowhere in sight? What do you do when you don’t get the miracle? Do you get angry at God? No. You praise Him in the midst. You praise and you keep on praying no matter how hard that may be. You reach out to the people around you for support if you haven’t already and have them pray for you (you should have people in your corner ready to grab your hand and pray though). You turn that worship music up so loud the neighbors and the people in the car next to you get saved. You raise your hands so high in worship in church that the people around you think you just got delivered from something. You bombard heaven with your persistent prayers like the story of the woman in Luke 18. You speak and declare the things that are not as if they were. You pray so loud the cops show up and think somethings wrong (maybe don't do that actually, but pray hard and out loud. That's what my car is for personally if you see me driving don't be judging me and Jesus...and maybe Lennon...are having a moment lol) You use the authority that God has given you to knock the enemy on his…”rear end” (sorry, that one just got a little personal). You find things every day to be grateful for in the midst of it all. Thank you, God, for my child. Thank you, God, for that stoplight (and not getting hit by the guy that just ran it). Thank you, God, for the sunrise. Thank you, God, for internet. Thank you, God, for pens. There’s SOMETHING you can be grateful for. Say it out loud. Write it down.

Don’t you dare go sit in your pity party and sulk. Don’t you dare let the enemy throw lies about your worth because of someone else’s actions or inactions. Do not fall into the “nobody cares about me” trap even if you think there may be truth to it – God cares about you, and He loves you. He gave His son Jesus Christ to die for you, something we are about to remember/reflect on and honor as we come into Resurrection weekend. (By the way – side note here – if you’re not going to church, this is the perfect weekend to change that. If you’re local, we’d love to have you at Faith Family Church! We have 7 services at the Baytown campus and 2 at the Crosby campus to choose from! Snap out of that funk you’ve been in. Time to pop the balloons in the pity party. Nobody has time for that. That’s a word for somebody.

Stay faithful. Don’t give up. I know some of you are tired right now, tired of holding on. I know because I’ve been there. But some of you are so close to your breakthrough and you don’t even realize it. You’re right on the brink. But even if you weren’t, God is still good. You know I’ve been doing a lot of focus on growth, particularly in the area of leadership and one of those books mentioned discovering and recording your values, the things you live by and stand on. One of those for me – "God is good, regardless of how I feel about it." Regardless of my circumstances, regardless of what it looks like – God IS good. God is love. God is faithful. He is a just Father. And He loves us.

God showed me something today that I didn’t intend on sharing, but I do feel like someone out there needs to hear this. About 2 weeks ago I was chatting with one of our Pastors and his daughter came up next to him. Her mom was standing over to the side watching. There was an Instagram reel I saw later of this moment and I was just like aw this little girl is so dang cute lol. I completely missed what God was saying. In the moment, I didn’t think anything of it. I have a son that’s pretty much always next to me if he’s in the room so as a parent it’s just something you get used to yet appreciate, having a mini-me attached to you all the time LOL. And anyone else that has kids it's just like yea that's their kid of course they are close by. Today God kept bringing it back to my memory today and I couldn’t figure out why I kept seeing that moment again. So I said a prayer like "Ohhhh are we interceding for that family, is that what’s happening here? Ok." But then I went to take a lunch and I got in my car and it hit me. I immediately started tearing up. That was a picture of how my heavenly Father loves me, His daughter. And you too. At any point I can run up to Him and…gosh y’all I don’t even know if I can get through writing this without crying right now sheesh...gratitude tears here … stand by His side. He can be intent in a conversation with someone and I’m not interrupting Him. I’m not a bother to Him. Let me say that again for someone. YOU'RE NOT BOTHERING GOD. He will instinctively put His arm around me, guarding me. I’m not distracting Him from the task at hand, in fact He’s excited that I’m there. He doesn’t have to even look directly at me to know I’m by His side. He's not annoyed with me. I'm not "too much" for him. He is a loving Father. I’m writing this as if my own son is next to me and the thoughts that go through my mind there, but you get the idea. (Though if I'm being honest that Pastor was more patient than I am with my boy sometimes LOL but my son is always welcome by my side even in conversation. But kudos to both the Pastor and his wife for stellar parenting there.)

I want you to take a minute today, wherever you are reading this, and I want you to get this picture in your mind. Set aside any picture of your earthly father whether that was good, bad, or he wasn’t there. Picture this - our heavenly Father is standing there, doing what He does, and you run up to Him and He wraps His arm(s) around you. He may even stay focused on what He was originally doing, or maybe He stops and looks at you. But the one thing you know is that you are safe. You are protected. You are guarded by the God of the Universe. He’s not going to let anything happen to you. You know I think back to that scenario I mentioned, and I guarantee you there was a 0% chance of anything happening to that little girl at that moment because her parents were there, watching, guarding. (As were others in our church who stand guard in more ways than most realize.) And that parental instinct isn’t something to play with – I would literally do anything to protect my son. As would most parents. The same goes for our heavenly Father. He is always looking out for us, even if we don’t see that sometimes. He has angels looking out for you, even when you’re in His presence. That doesn’t mean we will never get hurt or that we will never face pain because we will. But He will always be there to help us up. God will never leave you nor forsake you. You know being a parent really has given me a perspective I am very grateful for. It’s the only reason I can understand unconditional love. No matter what my son does I will love him. I may be disappointed in him at times and I will not shy away from correcting him and leading him the best I can. And sometimes that’s going to mean saying no to what he wants because I know there’s something better for him. Because of my experience in life, I can see the bigger picture that he can’t. And while I know I can’t protect him from all of the hurt and pain that life will eventually bring, I can help him to avoid some pitfalls - if he chooses to listen to me.

So when you’re sitting there looking at a mess of unanswered prayers, questioning whether it’s worth it to keep going, to keep praying – don’t give up. Get a picture of running into the arms of your heavenly Father. Realize that He sees the whole picture. He knows what’s best. God is good, regardless of how you feel about it. He is worthy to be praised no matter what life looks like right now. Praise Him loud. Shake foundations with your voice, with your faith. Show the world who He is. Don't let the enemy steal your joy your light. By the time the miracle comes you will have already praised Him for the answer you knew was coming. Rise up child of God. Rise up in the authority He has given you. Quit waiting for Him to rescue you out of a pit (possibly even one you dug) and climb out of it. Speak life into your “tree” whether it looks like it’s coming back or not. Refuse to be disappointed if it’s not and know there’s something better at hand.
Back to that tree at the park – what I don’t see is maybe that tree is dangerous somehow. Maybe some poor hiker is walking along in a year and it gets hit by lightning because it's the tallest thing in that area, I don’t know. Maybe it does come back and surprises me – I’ve got the faith to see it come back to life. But I also have the faith to understand that whether that prayer gets answered or not, I’m going to praise the Lord for He is good in the midst of it all. I’m not going to stop praying until either me or that tree is gone. Because at the end of the day, it’s not about that tree in all its majesty. It’s about the God I serve and about my faith in what He can do. Or choose not to do.

Go enjoy Resurrection Day this weekend with your family, natural and spiritual. Don’t skip out on church for an Easter egg hunt now. That’s a topic for another day LOL. This weekend, take the time to remember that our Savior Jesus Christ hung on a cross for us. He died paying the price for our sins so the veil would be torn and we could enjoy eternity with God – if we so choose it. In 3 days, He rose again, stepping out of that tomb, reminding us of the Resurrection Power in His name and that He is Lord over even death itself. Don’t forget what Resurrection weekend is truly about. And if you don’t know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, let’s chat.



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