“Why doesn’t God answer my prayers?” My son asked me this question one night after bedtime prayers. It took me by surprise, but it was an honest question. Sometimes our kids don’t see anything come from their prayers, so they wonder if God is listening at all. Don’t we as adults wonder the same thing sometimes?
What I have found is that I’m intentional about asking for things when I pray. But I sometimes forget there is another really important part of praying. Without it, I might think God has forgotten me or doesn’t care. Here’s what it is.
When we ask for things but don’t pay attention for what we actually receive, it’s like we’re just posing rhetorical questions. But we are actually speaking to a real, loving God who hears us and never leaves us. He doesn’t hide His wisdom from us. But we have to lean in to hear His voice.
These 5 steps will help your children open their eyes and ears to receive the answers to prayers.
1. Record your prayers.
At bedtime, write down your prayers in a notebook. Or, as a parent, you can record the prayers of all family members in one place. It’s a good idea to focus on one specific prayer for each person who is involved, and that includes you too, Mom. The bonus in this first step is that each person takes a minute to stop and really think about his or her request, rather than rattling off a routine nighttime prayer like reciting the ABCs.
2. Keep praying. Keep asking.
We often ask once and expect God to produce our desired answer like a search engine. But Jesus even told a story to his disciples about being persistent in prayer. In Luke 18, Jesus’s story goes like this: A woman keeps asking a judge for help, over and over again. She asks him so many times that he gives in! Now if this “unjust judge” will give a good answer to the woman he doesn’t even care about, then how much more will a loving God give to his children who pray faithfully to him?
3. Ask God to open your eyes and ears to see His answers.
My kids are like Dug in the movie Up. “Squirrel!” and they’re off. But I’m often that way with my prayers, too. Asking God to help us have open eyes and ears reminds us to look and listen actively! And it invites a power and strength beyond our own human strength to allow us to see it. Another way to hear God is to read the Bible. This is one way God speaks to us and answers our prayers. You don’t have to be a Bible scholar or pastor to understand it. If you don’t know where to start, the gospel of John is great.
4. Talk about the answers.
Talk with your kids after some time has passed. Did God say yes or no? What did that “yes” look like? This is where you can give some personal examples to help them understand. For example, I recently interviewed for a job I really wanted. I asked God to help me get this job if it was the right one for me. But I didn’t get it. I could’ve responded with, “Why doesn’t God answer my prayers?” Or, I can open my eyes to see that God did answer; He said, “No, this is not my plan for you right now.”
God is creative and all-knowing, so He may often answer in a way you didn’t expect. He also may tell you to wait or to keep asking in faith. As you talk through the possibilities, these can be some really awesome discussions with your kids.
5. Lastly, record how God answered.
Go back in that journal you started and record God’s answers! This is great to refer to later when you need some encouragement or to remember how God has been faithful in the past.
How do you help your kids see that God is answering their prayers?