When God doesn’t answer prayer…

Yesterday, we were at the National Day of Prayer in Wembley.

I never really know what to expect of big, corporate expressions of faith like these.   While on my travels to other countries, I’ve been to a few which have been haphazardly-organised and I’ve also been to some lovely ones, where it felt like God turned up and smiled.   You never quite know what it’s going to be, until you get there.

I think yesterday was one of the ‘God-smiling’ events.

I was up in the Press room and though we had a great view of the stadium, we were working in a sound-proofed, glassed-in room, so most of the time, we had to rely on sudden hand waving/raising outside to know what was going on.    Every now and then though, the sliding doors would open, and I’d get a few seconds of 40,000 people singing ‘How great is our God’ or ‘Blessed be your name’ and I’d nip out, just to grab a few moments of the atmosphere. Not only was it lovely to listen to so many voices (probably from vastly different traditions), singing together, but the hot sun, blazing overheard, made me feel somehow, that God was there and was super pleased with what was happening.

The best bit of the day for me though, came on the long journey home.

It was my turn to drive (and despite my tendency to drive super slow, when I am talking about anything important), we still ended up having a fab, deep conversation about prayer and about what happens when it works….and about what to do, when we don’t get what we have prayed for.

The conclusion was that sometimes, God doesn’t answer prayer in the way that we thought He would.  And so, when that happens, how do I fit all that, into the picture I have of God, my Father, who loves me, understands my every thought and ‘counts the hairs on my head’?  I can’t say I always understand….but our conversation yesterday threw up two things;

1) God sometimes calls us to travel a difficult road, that will result in MY life being changed.

2) God sometimes calls us to travel a difficult road, that will result in someone else’s life being changed.

3) (even though, techincally, I said there would only be 2!), God calls us to pray according to His will, not mine. So, while there is nothing wrong in asking God to do things, the biggest (scariest), boldest prayer I can ever pray, is simply, ‘God, please move the pieces in my life together, to align me to YOUR will, not mine’.

There is something about being at an event like NDOP, that inspires me to think more deeply about faith. I don’t think we would have had that conversation on the way home, if we had been at an ordinary exhibition. But because we were surrounded by so many fervent, praying people, it did something to our heads and hearts and our chat, during the late night drive back, ended up being about things that truly mattered.

Love those kinds of chats.