Unanswered Prayer


Thursday of the First Week of Lent

Esther C: 12, 14-16, 23-25; Matthew 7: 7-12

Dc. Larry Brockman

Prayer!  Prayer is the common theme of today’s readings.  Jesus tells us that the one that asks will receive.  And that God, who is good, will give us what we really need.  Sometimes when we pray, we don’t sense that our prayers are being answered.  So, do we stop praying?  Do we lose our confidence that our prayers are being heard?  In other words, is our prayer filled with doubt? 

I find myself guilty on that count occasionally.  I want my prayers answered right away, and when that doesn’t happen, it discourages me.  If I am in a truly difficult bind, and simply don’t know what to do, kind of like Esther in today’s first reading, I will pray and hope that a sense of inspiration will come over me at the same time I am praying.  And that just sometimes doesn’t happen.  Maybe some of you are fortunate enough to have the kind of relationship with God where your prayers are always answered right away.  But I think mine is more typical, kind of like Esther’s. 

If you look at the first reading closely, you will note that Esther prayed all day long.  Also, text is missing from verses 16 through 22.  In that text, Esther discusses her dilemma with the Lord.  She talks of her frustration and the sin in her people’s lives.  During her prayer, she asks for the same thing multiple times.  There doesn’t appear to be any answer to her pray-  just a one sided appeal and discussion of the dilemma.  There is no expression of confidence, no report of comfort from the prayer in the words of the scripture.  And sometimes that’s the way I feel- almost an emptiness.   

Now if we read more of the book of Esther, we discover that her prayer was answered.  She did manage to say the right things to the King and the evil Haman.  And Esther and her people were delivered from the evil that they faced.  I think that the same thing happens in our lives after prayer, only we sometimes don’t recognize it for what it is.  We pray for help, we don’t receive a rush of inspiration or comfort, and we get discouraged.  But what God wants from us is trust.  He wants us to leave our prayer session with faith and trust that the prayers were heard.  Then go out and face the dilemma and let God do His work with us and through us to accomplish His will. 

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