Unanswered Prayers

Who among has hasn’t, at times, felt that our prayers have gone unanswered, our questions met with silence or that we’ve been abandoned in our moment of need?

My experience has been that none of these is true? Instead, what I’ve discovered is that I’m praying incorrectly, or asking the wrong questions, which is why my prayers and questions seem to have gone unanswered. It’s why I’ve felt abandoned in my time of need.

When I say “praying incorrectly” I mean that I’ve been asking “if” questions instead of “how” questions. Here are some examples to illustrate this point.

If questions

Too many of our prayers (questions) look like these:

  • I wonder if I should quit my job?
  • I wonder if this new role is right for me?
  • I wonder if I can be successful in this new role?
  • I wonder if I can be happy in my new role?
  • I wonder if this is the right person to be my life partner?

There are two reasons why “if” questions go unanswered; why they leave us feeling alone and abandoned:

  1. Doubt
  2. Free will


Implicit in “if” questions is doubt about whether or not a solution exists. Our subconscious mind, which is our connection to the universe, doesn’t know how to search for a solution when there’s doubt about whether or not a solution exists.

So, instead of a solution, we get an endless loop of excitement, doubt, fear, anxiety, hope, excitement, doubt, fear, anxiety, ad infinitum. It’s much like what we see when our computers fail to understand an instruction and we see the wheel spinning endlessly until we reboot and clear the computer’s memory.

Free will

We have been given free will which means God, or the Universe, isn’t going to make choices for us. So when we ask the kinds of “if” questions listed above and don’t get an answer, it’s the universe telling us: “choose.” 

It would be helpful if that message was communicated more clearly, but it isn’t so we have to remind ourselves to reexamine the question we’re asking to see whether we are in essence asking the divine to make a choice for us.

Let’s contrast these results with what we get when we ask “how” questions.

How questions

When we ask questions like:

  • How would quitting my job make me happier? What doors would it open for me?
  • How can I assure success in my new role? What steps can I take to assure my success?
  • How can I assure that my new role is fun and exciting for me and my colleagues? 
  • How can I assure ever-increasing happiness for my partner and myself?

Implicit in “how” questions is the belief that there is a solution…that the result is possible. So instead of an endless loop that cycles between excitement and doubt, your subconscious mind provides a solution, an answer to your prayers.

Of course you need to take action that moves you toward your goal. The universe will provide the answer, but you have to take action to produce the result. One of my disappointments with the book,The Secret, is that I feel that too much emphasis was placed on visualization and too little on action.

It’s through consistent and persistent action that we attract what we desire. In the various businesses I created, it wasn’t enough to develop an alluring marketing message. I had to get out and meet people with whom I could share my message. It’s action that converts ideas and wishes into reality. Jack Canfield, author of Chicken Soup for the Soul, was rejected by 144 publishers. Yes, he visualized the result he got, but it was the consistent and persistent action that tipped the scales in his favor.

In any endeavor, we have to take action that enables others to see what important to us, what we’re trying to accomplish. Action is the key to attracting resources we need to be successful in achieving what we desire.

For you

When you feel that your prayers are unanswered, when you feel abandoned in your time of need, revisit your prayers. Are you asking “if” questions. In all likelihood you are.

If you are, then recast your question into a “how” question. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you get a response.

Also pay attention to whether you’re asking the universe to make a choice for you. If you are, realize that the universe will never make a choice for you. Instead, take a sheet of paper and draw a vertical line down the middle. On the left side list all of the reasons why choosing to move forward will be good for you and whomever else is involved. Then, on the right side, list all the reasons why moving forward is not a good idea.

Based on the results of this analysis, make your choice…knowing that if it ends up not being what you’d hoped it would be, you can always make another choice. It’s one of the beautiful aspects of life that we learn from experience and with each lesson learned we move to ever increasing levels of happiness.

For our kids

Let your kids know that there will be times when they’ll wish for answers to the doubts, fears and anxiety they experience. Let them know that there are two ways of seeking answers: “If” questions and “how” questions. 

Then share with them why if questions don’t work and how questions always produce the desired result. Also let them know that they’ll never get an answer from the universe when they ask what choice they should make. They have to choose, but that they can also take heart in knowing that they can always make new choices as they get new information. You’ll make their lives easier by sharing this knowledge with them.

Let others know that you love them by sharing this blog post. They’ll appreciate that you care.

I love hearing your thoughts and experiences, please share your thoughts in a comment.

If you’d like to enjoy great confidence, check out our Confidence Self-Study programs (opens in a new link). 

If you’d like to enrich the lives of others by teaching them to be more confident, check out our Teaching Confidence Instructor Certification program (opens in a new link).


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2 Responses

  1. bill.prenatt@simplysuccessful-llc.com

    Dale, Thank you for tackling one of life’s complex questions!

    • dfurtwengler

      My pleasure, Bill. I feel blessed to have discovered helpful insights like this. The step beyond discovery is sharing.

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