Thankful for the Unanswered Prayers

I have hundreds of unanswered prayers under my belt. I’ll bet you do too.

Quite a few of mine were childhood prayers I sent rocketing up into the ether. My early prayers were poorly thought out, cried out in pain, anger, and fear. I was a kid after all and in need of relief.

I prayed for a horse every single day. I asked for bad things to happen to my sister to “teach her a lesson” for mistreating me. I prayed another family would take me in and love me. I waited in vain for these prayers to be answered.

At ten years old I had given up on prayer. It didn’t work. I had all the evidence I needed — the things I didn’t get, the things I’d asked for and not been given.

Couldn’t God see how I was hurting? How I needed my prayers to be answered? I believed God owed me these desires, that if he really wanted to, he could deliver them to me like Santa Claus.

I remember one of my prayers in particular, because it was different from the rest. I cried in my bed on a Sunday night and begged God to send me a friend. Fr. LeMaster, the priest who’d given the sermon at mass that morning, said it was ok to pray for friendship. He said that was a prayer God would most certainly answer.

My prayer was answered within a week.

This answered prayer led me to believe that only certain prayers would be answered. Only prayers that could pass the “church” test were worth being granted. Any prayer that I considered greedy, selfish, or material, I refrained from asking.

For several years I stopped praying completely because, to be honest, most of what I wanted fell into the previous three categories. My life without prayer gradually, but profoundly, affected me on a soul level. I felt like a tree being slowly uprooted. I felt myself become shaky, uncertain, lost.

Eventually, I did return to prayer, but on a new path this time. I did so thoughtfully and consciously. I was determined to pray only from a place of peace, to never plead for what I wanted. I approached my devotions reasonably and calmly.

And even with my changed mindset, I prayed for things to not happen that happened and I prayed for things to happen that never happened. I became frustrated and hopeless. How was it possible that with all my many years of experience, I still didn’t know what to pray for?

I knew exactly what I needed in my life by now, didn’t I? I wanted (no, needed!) that new job because it paid more. More income would help me pay off my bills, that wasn’t greedy. Without debt I could achieve financial independence. It all sounded sane and responsible. Gone were my vengeful fantasies, gone were my petty requests. What was wrong? How was I still on the wrong track?

But I knew I was on the wrong track because praying had to be done in such a strict, perfect way, like a superstition. If I didn’t do it right, if I didn’t ask for the right things, I wouldn’t get rewarded.

I process lessons slowly, at a snail’s pace if I’m honest. It took another ten years for me to realize what I had overlooked.

There’s no way for me to know if what I’m praying for is meant to be or not.

I know now my unanswered prayers were not in accordance with my life plan. They were not granted for a reason, and in many cases a very specific reason. So many of those prayers would have altered my life forever. I can’t even take the measure of how far off my life plan they would have taken me. How can I measure missed opportunities, life changing experiences, or missing out on meeting the amazing people that are in my life now?

I am thankful for those unanswered prayers.

Now I pray for EVERYTHING I want, very much like I did when I was a child, but with this important qualification. I ask that my prayer be granted ONLY if it is in my highest good.

My prayers are UNFILTERED and come STRAIGHT FROM MY HEART. Some of them are going to be answered and some not. I won’t know why, but I can trust in this process that has brought me so much peace and comfort.