Issue: I have been praying for something for years and it still has not happened, why is God not answering my prayer?
Insight: God knows everything including the future. It may be that this is not the right time for what you are asking Him for.
I will give you an example from my own life. God placed a call on my life to move to Kelowna, so when He confirmed this call to my heart I expected it to happen right away. We kept telling people we were moving and then it didn't happen. This brought me a lot of embarrassment and discouragement. I kept praying that God would make a way and then I would try to make the plans and they all would fall apart. Finally, last year I gave it completely over to God and sure enough within the year God had made a way and we moved. The reason my prayer was answered at that time was because God could not make the way if I kept trying to make it happen and refused to surrender it. Secondly, we weren't ready spiritually for the move before God made a way. God knew that so He waited.
Another reason for unanswered prayer is that it may not be in God's will for your life. When I was in Bible College I had planned out my entire future. God had a better plan for my life than the one I had, so He did not answer those prayers. He had a better plan, He did not want me to settle for second best.
Another reason is that answering it would not bring God glory. There are times that we ask for things that are selfish or that would make us look better to others. God will not answer those prayers either. He wants to see us grow stronger and mold our character, this will not happen if God gives us everything we ask for. Do parents give children everything they ask for? If they do the child becomes spoiled and as they leave home they expect everyone else to give them everything they need; however, when a parent says no to their child for their best then the child is taught how to be responsible with finances, and learns what is important in life.
If what you are praying for lines up with God's will for your life, it just may not be the right timing and just persevere. Abraham waited 25 years before he received a son, which God had promised him. Abraham tried to do it his own way, and had to change to be ready to receive the answer, and God received all the glory because Isaac was born to him and Sarah when they were well past the age of child bearing. Never give up!
Issue: As a Christian I feel like I always have to have my act together and never have any problems, but when I hide my problems from others they know I am not being "real" with them. How can I be "real" and still be a Christian?
Insight: This is a question that plagues many Christians so do not feel alone in this. We as Christians often get this preconceived notion that we need to be perfect. God actually calls us to be holy (1 Peter 1:15-16; Leviticus 11:44-45) which doesn't mean perfect, it means set apart. God wants us to live lives that are different than those around us. He knows we are prone to sin. He knows what we are capable of. I believe that it is us who expect perfection from others.
I was at a retreat and the speaker said that God is never disappointed in us. In order for someone to be disappointed would mean that they had an expectation that we could not meet. God has no expectations of us, because he already knows every thought that we are going to think and every decision we are going to make. God, has no expectations, he just knows the outcome. What if we were to be more like God in this matter. Even though we do not know the future, what if we just stopped expecting things from people.
In the last week, God has shown me that I have a problem with expecting too much from others. The result is that I am disappointed in myself and them, and they feel bad for not meeting my high expectations. This week I tried something new. I trusted God and threw my expectations out the window. I had an amazing week. People did things that were so far beyond what I ever would have expected them to do, because they were free to be all that they could be without the thought of possibly disappointing me weighing them down. It also freed me in another way, when things did not go well, I did not have to deal with disappointment as well as the situation. I was able to keep a level head and coasted through until the situation was ironed out. I also found that when people did things that were unusual, I just trusted that God was in control of everything and the end result was everything worked out well.
I believe that if we trust God, and allow Him to be in control of every single aspect of our lives (not easy), then we are free from expecting others to fulfill what we should be trusting God for. God will make sure every need we have is met, the question is do we trust Him enough to believe He will do it? Do we trust Him enough to give control over to Him?
Back to the issue, do not try to be someone you are not. Be all that God has created you to be. Don't try to be perfect, strive to be authentic. Christianity is not about being perfect; it is about believing in God and trusting Him with our lives. Instead of focusing on what others think about you, pray and ask God what He thinks about you. He may tell you through His still small voice, He may lead you to Scripture that reveals it to you, or He may just send another Christian to share with you God's heart on that matter. God always answers, just not always in the way we expect Him to.
Issue: I find it really hard to trust God. I have trust issues with people I can see let alone God who I can't.
Insight: Believe it or not this is an age old questions. In the days of Moses (read Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy in the Old Testament for the complete story of Moses) the Israelites also had a hard time trusting a God they could not see, even with the miracles that God had performed for them. So first of all you are not the only one in that boat. I too have had my trust issues with God.
The interesting thing is that if you read the Bible from the perspective of the people, you can identify with their doubts, however if you read the Bible from the perspective of an Almighty God you start to see it in another light.
God creates man and gives man everything he has, man then responds with disobedience, and tries to hide from God. Since this incident we constantly hurt God, and yet He still tries to reach out to us again and again. He even sent His Son to die for the sins of the world so that we can be free to love Him back. Yet looking at the world around us, people hate God, people don't trust God, people judge God, people deny God, people ignore God, and even love man-made gods over Him.
God must be heart broken. His only desire is that we love Him the way He loves us. He wants our best for us, so sometimes He does not do what we expect Him to, instead He gives us something better! I know this from experience. Even though you can't see Him, He loves you more than anyone else does on this entire planet, and He will give you His best and not allow you to settle for your own plans. Do not be disheartened, God knows the big picture and He just wants you to know you are loved and you can trust Him with everything. He will never let you down.
Issue: My husband is an alcoholic. I have been trying really hard to hide it from everyone else, since we are a pillar of the community, strong members of our church and try to be shining examples for Christ.
Issue continued: This problem has put a strain on our marriage and has caused my children great pain. Every time I suggest he may have a problem, he denies it. His family has a history of alcoholism and he says he is nothing like his family. I am concerned if this gets worse what might happen to our family.
Insight: Pray!!! God can do things that we can't. Pray specifically for God to move. Pray that God would send someone who has a similar story who could tell him what they did to get out. Pray that the secret comes out so that others can address the issue and help him face up to it. Pray for your marriage to be restored.
Clearly you love him or you would have already given up hope. This may be a difficult road for you to walk but imagine the testimony you will have when you come out the other side victorious. You may even be able to help other people who are going through the same thing. Pray also that God would give you strength to persevere, wisdom in what to say from day to day, and increase your love for him with God's love.
I believe that as you begin to pray for these things specifically, things will change. It may be quick, it may be slow. Just remember to keep your relationship with God strong!
Issue: I know how I should live and yet I find myself falling into my old patterns time and time again. What can I do about this? Will I ever be able to break free from my old patterns.
Insight: You are not alone in this struggle. Paul, one of the most well known men in the New Testament also faced this. In Romans 7:7-24, Paul talks about his own struggle with sin. How he does what he does not want to do and how he does not do what he wants to do. He thanks Jesus in this passage for setting us free from the bonds that tie that sin to our eternal destiny.
Yet how do we experience freedom before eternity? To be honest, we won't. We will not reach perfection until we are in heaven, however we can continue to be transformed into the likeness of Christ. Romans 12:2 confirms this. We are transformed as we grow in our relationship to God. Continue to grow in your walk with God and slowly old patterns will start to fade as new ones emerge.
I strive to help others by being a safe place for others to ask questions and pose issues they face.