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God's silence is not the same as his absence

The Bible is super honest about the reality and pain of unanswered prayer, and so were we at our latest Prayer Course sessions. We tackled the challenges and realities when our prayers aren't answered.

You can catch up on the teaching video below.

"If God is all-powerful and all-loving, why does he allow suffering in the world?" In the video, Pete acknowledged that this is one of the toughest questions to answer. While there is no one size fits all answer to satisfy all our doubts and curiosity, we did get some helpful advice.

We are recommended to think about suffering in our world and our lives in terms of three things:

  1. God's world - We are all part of the natural world, subject to its laws. Although God can occasionally and miraculously intervene in some situations, a stable and consistent world requires that these interventions would be extremely rare.

  2. God's war - According to the Biblical worldview, we are all part of a larger, spiritual, unseen battle with a real and active enemy opposing God's will and purposes in the world (1 Peter 5:8). We will learn more about this in the last session of The Prayer Course.

  3. God's will - God created us, sustains us and knows us intimately. He knows exactly what we desire and what we actually need. While he listens to all our prayers, sometimes his answer is 'yes', most often it's 'wait', while other times it's 'no'. When God's will for us is different from what we hope and pray for, we can still trust his wisdom and limitless love for us.

"Even when we don't understand, we can still trust."

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus pleaded with his heavenly Father, 'Take this cup from me', but the Father said 'no'. On the cross, he cried out, 'My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?' but the heavens remained silent. Jesus understands suffering, even the disappointment of "unanswered prayer". We are called to fix our eyes on him, follow in his footsteps and learn from him.

We are called to remember that:

God's silence is not the same as his absence.

Here are some practical things we can learn from Jesus and practice when we struggle with the pain and disappointment of unanswered prayer:

  1. Choose to be vulnerable and honest with close friends. (Mark 14:33-34)

  2. Choose to pursue prayer and God's presence. (Luke 22:44)

  3. Hold onto God's love. (Mark 14:36; "Abba, Father...")

  4. Hold out for God's power. (Mark 14:36; "...everything is possible for you...")

  5. Be honest with yourself and God. (Mark 14:36; "Take this cup from me...")

  6. Trusting in God's love and power, pray a prayer of relinquishment. (Mark 14:36; "Yet not what I will, but your will be done.")

"Weeping may stay for the night,

but rejoicing comes in the morning."

Psalm 30:5

We hope you will join the next session of The Prayer Course. We would love to see you there!

If you want to learn more about prayer, why don't you read Pete Greig's book titled 'How to pray, a simple guide for normal people'? You can purchase it online by following this link:


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