I was told way too often my prayers weren’t answered because I was somehow wrong. I prayed I’d get married-“you aren’t married, there must be some sin in your life. Work through it, seek God first, and he’ll give you what you want”. Just one example. I heard it until I was so angry. Good ‘wouldn’t let’ me marry because of sin while others fornicate, gossiped, lied, etc and got married?!?! And people in church said I wasn’t because of sin? What a terrible representation of God — giving non-believers what they want and what would be ‘normal’ to want, while withholding them from his children in order to get them to do more.
People say stupid stuff because they don’t know what else to say, or to be dismissive, or whatever, but NOT because it’s fact. Even ‘pray and wait’ upsets me. I did. I prayed and waited way too long, and though I’m glad I didn’t marry in that church because that would have been horrid in a lot of ways, still… no one should have told me that.
Statements like “pray and wait” or “you must have some secret sin” or “just have more faith” are dangerous because… well, so we pray and wait and have faith and it doesn’t happen, or we repent of even breathing and still… nothing. And then what? Those sort of statements bounce around in our heads and can undermine our faith. They leave us with nothing but guilt and shame.
The truth is, what we pray for may happen or may not, even if what we are praying for seem like things that nearly everyone has. And it’s not going to be easy to deal with if those things don’t happen, even without unhelpful comments.
What I finally decided in my own life is that all the asking is fine, but nothing I do ensures God doing what I want, particularly when I want it. And so it’s not my job to pray harder, repent harder, believe more, but just to eventually come to a point of saying, “OK, God. Either way, OK.”