First of all, let us all agree that this happens: God doesn’t always answer prayer the way we hope. It doesn’t matter how deeply we love God, how vast our faith is, or how much we pray, sometimes our prayers just flat out don’t get the answers we want. Jesus Christ himself prayed to have the cup of his Passion taken away, albeit bowing to the Father’s will. But still, he prayed to be rescued from the torture, and God didn’t do that. So, if Jesus didn’t get the answer he was hoping for that night, let’s admit that we don’t always get the ones we want either.
I wrote the book The Prayer List…and Other True Stories of How Families Pray, and amongst the stories were several that did not turn out the way the people praying had hoped. While pondering the question of why this happens, my training as a math teacher prompted me to create a flowchart to explore the various possibilities stemming from prayer. It is a simple design, asking only yes or no questions. I was surprised by what I learned about myself and about God from it.
Perhaps my example may inspire you to create your own flowchart with questions that are pertinent to your particular prayer situation. Begin by giving your flowchart a title, such as, “When God Says ‘No’ Flowchart,” or, “How Long Should I Pray? Flowchart.” Once you have your title, begin by asking a simple question that has a yes or no answer. Then write the next logical yes or no question that results from each answer. Keep going this way until you get an answer that doesn’t need another question. Enjoy the process and what you learn about yourself and God. God is in the process, so just keep moving forward.
Books by Jane Knuth
Love Will Steer Me True
A Mother and Daughter’s Conversations on Life, Love, and God
Love Will Steer Me True shows how a mother and daughter swerve and weave their way into a new understanding of themselves, of their familial relationship, and of their faith.
Thrift Store Graces
Finding God’s Gifts in the Midst of the Mess
Jane Knuth is back with another book full of her experiences serving as a once reluctant, now enthusiastic volunteer at a Saint Vincent de Paul thrift store in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Thrift Store Saints
Meeting Jesus 25¢ at a Time
Thrift Store Saints is a collection of true stories based on Jane Knuth's experience serving the poor at a St. Vincent de Paul thrift store.