Dealing with Unanswered Prayer

Priming the Pump

“…But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you (Matthew 6.33 NASB)…”

Tucked deep in the Sermon on the Mount, we find this gem of Scripture, this golden nugget which has been the subject of many a sermon and hymn throughout the years.  It is something that I’ve been pondering deeply this week in light of circumstances, issues and generally wrestling with the Lord in prayer.

For starters, my family has been dealing with sickness over the past couple of weeks as well as the death of loved ones, not to mention the constant struggle that we all encounter with sin as we look earnestly to grow in His grace.  It is in the midst of all of this that I’m beginning to see a greater link and connection between sin, sickness, and death; in myself and in the world around me.  Essentially, I’m beginning to see that sin and sickness are symptomatic of the death which is resident in my fallen flesh and in all honesty, it’s starting to make me mad.  I’m literally beginning to become angry with these things in myself, my immediate family, and those around me.  Angry because I know that these things are not resident in the Kingdom, but rather they are a result of rebellion.  Furthermore, if they are not resident in the Kingdom, then they should not be resident in me…and yet…

So, I pray.  In all earnestness and faith, I pray.  I cry out.  Sometimes, I even beg.  Still, many times there is no immediate change in the circumstance.  Now, that’s not to say that we’ve not seen miraculous healing, deliverance, and so forth.  To be sure, we have.  And yet, I’m still dissatisfied with the apparent lack of “results” in these cases of “unanswered prayer.”  So, naturally, I look to the Word and to Jesus; and there I find that there is no instruction about what to do with “unanswered prayer.”

So, then what is an honest seeker to do?

In Matthew 6, Jesus discusses prayer, offering instruction to His disciples on how they (we) ought to pray.  But that’s not all, He also discusses giving, forgiveness, fasting, and how to properly approach our daily needs.  Still, in all of this variety of discourse, there is a common thread as there is with the entirety of the Sermon on the Mount.

Jesus is working to produce a shift of perspective in His hearers.

He is teaching us to look in a different direction, as we give, as we pray, as we forgive, as we fast, and as we live our lives in these corporeal bodies with all of their base needs and requirements.  Jesus does not create or perpetuate a theology of unanswered prayer.  Instead, He says that your focus in all of these things should be the Kingdom and proper alignment with the Father.

“…seek first the Kingdom and His righteousness (Matthew 6.33a NASB)…”


This week, the Lord is challenging me to…

  •  stop seeking the result…
  • stop seeking the breakthrough…
  • stop seeking the answer…

Instead, He is challenging me to seek (and keep on seeking) the Kingdom, which is the domain of the King; His rule, His heart, His agenda.  Life as a Christ follower is all about participation in the ministry of reconciliation which essentially means bringing that which is in rebellion back under the proper rule of the King.  Where there is sickness, it is in rebellion to the Kingdom.  Where there is sin, it is in rebellion to the Kingdom.  So, then as I continue seeking earnestly, the life of being restored to honor and favor with the King I progressively realize my original purpose of co-laboring with Him in bringing all things under His rule.  This was our mandate in the beginning and it is our mandate now, in Christ.

“Christianity is the story of how the rightful King has landed…and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage.” – C.S. Lewis