What does it all mean when prayers go unanswered? When hurts linger and God seems to be doing nothing in response to our faith? Often God is loving us more supremely at that time than ever before. The Word says, "Whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth." A chastening of love takes precedence over every act of faith, over every prayer, over every promise. What I see as hurting me could be his loving me. It could be his gentle hand spanking me out of my stubbornness and pride.
We have faith in our faith. We place more emphasis on the power of our prayers than we do on getting his power into us. We want to figure out God so we can read him like a book. We don't want to be surprised or bewildered and when things happen contrary to our concept of God, we say, "That can't be God; that's not the way he works."
We are so busy working on God, we forget he is trying to work on us. That is what this life is all about: God at work on us, trying to remake us into vessels of glory. We are so busy praying to change things, we have little time to allow prayer to change us. God has not put prayer and faith in our hands as if they were two secret tools by which a select group of "experts" learn to pry something out of him. God said he is more willing to give than we are to receive. Why are we using prayer and faith as "keys" or tools to unlock something that has never been locked up?
Prayer is not for God's benefit, but for ours. Faith is not for his benefit, but for ours. God is not some eternal, divine tease. He has not surrounded himself in riddles for men to unravel, as if to say, "The wise will get the prize."
We are so mixed up on this matter of prayer and faith; we have had the audacity to think of God as our personal "genie" who fulfills every wish. We think of faith as a way to corner God on his promises. We think God is pleased by our efforts to back him against the wall and shout, "Lord, you can't go back on your promise. I want what is coming to me. You are bound by your Word. You must do it or your Word is not true."
This is why we miss the true meaning of prayer and faith. We see God only as the giver and we are the receiver. But prayer and faith are the avenues by which we become the givers to God. They are to be used, not as ways to get things from God, but as a way to give him those things by which we can please him.