When the Answer to Prayer is No
I see a lot of books and articles on what prayer is, types of prayers, different ways to pray, how prayers are answered, etcetera. I have heard tales of prayers being answered is extraordinary ways. However, in these instances the answer to prayer was always yes. What happens when the answer is no? Many people pray with the expectation of having their request fulfilled. Whether it be for health, happiness, financial needs to be met, the perfect mate, or even that mansion on the hill, they don’t see the prayer “answered” until they have the object(s) of our desire.
The religious community often addresses this unanswered prayer by putting the blame on the pray-er; telling them that they must not have prayed right or prayed enough or the biggest insult - they just did not have enough faith. This is not to say the religious community is bad. This is what they were taught growing up and their formation courses solidified these beliefs.
So I ask you to ponder for yourself - what happens if you or your loved one is diagnosed with a disease, or the bills do not get paid, or someone else gets the mansion on the hill? Did you not pray the right way - did you not say the correct words? Or maybe you did not pray hard enough. Take a few moments and some deep breaths and really ponder these questions. Forget, for a moment, what you know, what you have learned and instead, key in on what you are feeling?
Are you feeling anger toward the Divine (or whatever name you give to your higher power)? Give yourself permission to feel what you are feeling. Yell. Scream. Give your pillow a couple of punches. Then, feel free to ask the Divine about the situation. If you do not ask, you will never get an answer as to the Why. You may be hearing a voice in your head saying “Who are you to question…”. I ask is not that what we have minds for, to learn why? Do you remember when your son/daughter or niece/nephew asked you “Why”? Did you ask who they were to question why? Probably not.
I find that the best way to converse with the Divine is through meditation. Meditation is a clearing out of the mind in order to be fully present in the moment. This clearing includes any emotional attachment to the situation or its outcome. Any preconceived notions about how things or people should be are released. The energy from yesterday and tomorrow is also freed. So you are there, just you, to be fully present to (and with) the Divine. Now the conversation can truly begin. In this conversation, you have the opportunity to go deeper into your spirit, to the core issue of why you prayed that prayer in the first place.
“Prayer is the wing wherewith the soul flies to heaven, and meditation the eye wherewith we see God." ~ Saint Ambrose