When God Doesn’t Seem to Answer Prayer

I was in Phoenix for a few days last week with my adult daughter, Kathryn, when her back went out on her.

I mean, out!

On the floor, unable to move, roll over or sit up.

After an hour of ice packs and ibuprofen, she was only able to slide towards the couch and get into a kneeling position but froze there in excruciating pain.

In tears, she begged me to pray for her.

I did.

But nothing changed.

It has been a long 2 months for her of multiple ER visits and finally surgery for her 2 year old daughter, my granddaughter, to correct a breathing abnormality. These few days in Phoenix were supposed to be Kathryn’s break in the sun.

Instead, we ended up calling 911 and had a trip to the local ER for pain killers and muscle relaxants.

As the pain started to ease, Kathryn asked me an honest question. “Dad, I don’t understand why God doesn’t answer prayer?”

Here is my answer, now, after a few days of reflection:

“Babe, I have thought a lot about our conversation in the Phoenix ER re: why God does not always heal or deliver us from suffering when we pray.

It is something I am sure every Christian wrestles with, at some time or another, when going through trials…and many trials far worse than a seized-up back.

What comes to mind this morning is the vivid picture I still have of Reagan lying in the bed at Children’s Hospital, begging Mike (her father) to take the IV out of her right hand…as the nurse had just moved it there from Reagan’s left hand.

Reagan did not understand everything that was happening to her in the hospital…why she hurt every time she moved or why something bad happened to her every time a nurse came into the room.

Would it have seemed to Reagan that the caring thing for Mike to do was pull the IV out of her hand?

Yes!!! Reagan was pleading with her Dad to remove the IV.

But would it have been the wise or good thing for Mike to do?

No! If Mike had removed the IV, Reagan would have lost her only source of fluids, nutrition, infection-fighting antibiotics and pain management.

Did it make sense to Reagan that Mike didn’t pull it out?


Would it have made sense to her, even if Mike had explained why to Reagan?


He actually tried to explain, but Reagan didn’t understand. Mike knew Reagan had to go through it.

At times, when we go through stuff, we have to choose to believe in what we know to be true of God’s character. We have to believe Romans 8:28, that “for those who love God (that’s you and me) all things work together for good…”

Reagan may not understand for years why that IV had to stay in her hand.

Likewise, we may never understand why God didn’t answer our prayers to deliver us from suffering. But, like Reagan, the overwhelming evidence is that her father loves her…and that she can trust him, even when leaving the IV in her hand doesn’t make sense to her… at the moment… in the midst of her pain.”