Why does God delay an answer to prayer?

(Here’s a dynamite little post from Justin Buzzard’s blog)

Thomas Watson, a Puritan pastor from 350 years ago, asked in his book, Body of Divinity, “Why does God delay an answer to prayer?” In other words, why would God ever keep us asking and seeking and knocking when he could respond sooner?

He gives four answers:

1. Because he loves to hear the voice of prayer. “You let the musician play a great while before you throw him down money, because you love to hear this music.”

2. That he may humble us. We may too easily assume we merit some ready answer, or that he is at our beck and call like a butler, not as sovereign Lord and loving Father.

3. Because he sees we are not yet fit or ready for the mercy we seek. It may be he has things to put in place—in us or in our church or in the world. There are a million pieces to the puzzle. Some things go first to make a place for the others.

4. Finally, that the mercy we pray for may be the more prized, and may be sweeter when it comes.

Thanks to Justin Buzzard for this.


10 thoughts on “Why does God delay an answer to prayer?

  1. If you mean no one has *the* answer, sure. But the post cited some very good reasons that God may be delaying — which is our expression. I am utterly convinced God always acts in perfect measure and at the right time; and this comforts me…. May it comfort you too. pdb


  2. When God answers prayers, he’s building faith. When he delays answering prayers, he’s building patients. When he doesn’t answer prayers, it’s because he has something better in mind for us.


  3. I often ask myself, since I am now 40 is God “delaying” answering my prayer for a husband and babies? Or, is He going to give me something better than a husband and babies?

    Because believe me, at age 40, there really is no more room to wait! If I don’t have a husband in the picture by now, after 15 years of praying, then I probably won’t have babies.
    And finding a husband who shares the same religion as me, at this age…hmm.. pretty iffy. No one I know who is of my religion, and over 35, has married. Like life has passed them by.

    Which then begs the question….how is living a life alone, without love, and without a family, “better”???

    I think the answer everyone avoids in articles such as this, is that the “better” comes in the afterlife, in Heaven (assuming I get there). God did not promise us happiness, but he has promised us reward in the eternal life after this one.

    Which then begs the next question….do I pray for death?

    Complicated, isn’t it?


  4. Jeremiah.11:29 say that the thought that God have for us are of good and not evil. For God to answer us, we have to do our home work. This is to be born again genuinely from our heart. God will always answer the prayers of the righteous. When you search yourself and become born again, you become God’s own property and project. He can never abandon you. I n 1 peter 2:9, a born again Christian is a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a perculiar person to God.
    To crown it all, my brethren, you have to search yourself for any hidden and unconfessed sin in your life. Do this and God will fight for you.


  5. Hey Joe, This is a difficult thing to explain, since I believe it is a fairly subjective / individual experience. I know at one point in my life, I felt the Lord “said no” to a request, and I found a sense of peace (and acceptance) about that. At another point (at many points actually), I continue to pray and petition the Lord, because my heart is not yet willing to let go. Some have called this “a burden” to pray, which will only lighten or leave you when God’s answer arrives — or a peace arrives and you lay that burden down. Hope this helps in some measure.

    I welcome the comments of others. I will put up a new post if something further occurs to me.



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