Unanswered Prayer? (Updated)

[11/26/11 – Some things have changed since I’ve written this post. My view of God’s sovereignty and His ability to save people by His power has changed dramatically. So, forgive the post below for some doctrinal inaccuracies in regards to free will and salvation. Our will is not really free in the full sense of that word, but enslaved to sin. Only He can truly give us freedom by saving us from sin and enabling us to love Him. We can never love Him unless He first loved us and quickened our spirits to see Him.]

When I was young and childish, I asked God for material things like a Game Boy Advance. I asked to get good grades, to go to a prestigious high school and then, I asked God to give me a passion for a major. There were many other things that I asked for along similar lines.

God did grant these things to me because these things were within His power and He granted them graciously to me. Even though my environment became worse and worse due to my family situation, my prayers were still being answered to the extent possible. Whatever I asked in faith, I received.

The one prayer that never was answered was the one in which I asked God to reconcile my mother with my father and reunite the family. (The reason it was not answered can be many. One may be because I have given up on it. I have lost faith in this prayer). I do not consider this a personal matter anymore which is why I am sharing it. I want to encourage people to pray to God with faith. He will indeed give us everything [although we ask for different things as we mature in Him and know His heart better]. However, some things such as a re-united family may be impossible to fulfill or may be fulfilled in a different manner than we imagined them to be.

My mother left the family that spring before high school, right after I got accepted into a prestigious high school. She thought I was old enough to take care of myself. Sadly, I still think she was wrong. I needed her so much during high school. I made so many mistakes due to my immaturity. I did not know how to take care of myself (seriously, some of you are so lucky to have mothers who tell you what to do). I sometimes still can’t help but feel envy for people whose parents are still together. It became so precious to me once I lost it. The house was just cold and lonely without her. It also became unkempt and dusty. Although we met once or twice a month for dinner, the relationship was not the same anymore.

When my mother left that spring, there was a window of time when she might have come back. My father totally blew the chance in his paranoia (or was it impossible from the start? I don’t know). His temper flared and he questioned me to no end about my meetings with my mom. It felt like torture to me because my mom told me to keep the meetings a secret. I could not lie yet I did not want to break a promise. I felt that my parents hated me, my dad for not telling him everything, my mom for breaking the trust by telling my dad some things. They hated my compromises. I hated being the middleman. Much of my dad’s actions were due to his emotions. He was irrational and scary and I suffered much physical abuse due to his anger.

What was I, an immature, eighth grader with no experience in marriage/love/divorce/conflicts supposed to do? Mediate their arguments and their mistrust with each other? I laugh sometimes when I look back at it. It felt so wrong to put the burden on a little kid. Both my parents waged a war of words and I was supposed to be the judge. They told me their side of the story and blamed the other side for the breakup. Yet I was a judge with no power to reconcile. They only allowed me to decide who was good and who was bad. I never gave a satisfactory answer.

Me: “Why must my mother be bad?”

Father: “She left the house. She must have another man. Don’t you see? She is a bad woman and you should not speak to her or meet with her.”

I refused to believe it so. Why would my mother leave for another man? I grew up with her, how could she be like that? I knew her well enough to deny this. Yet, there were some doubts in my mind. I am quite sure my mom was not cheating but I will probably never be 100% certain about what really went on until I go to Him.

Me: “God will judge us for He knows our hearts. I will not judge who is good or bad because I cannot see the full picture. I cannot read the hearts of men.”

Father: “What a fool of a son I have. Don’t you want your mother back? Are you saying I am a bad man? Are you saying she left because I am bad?”

Me: “No, I mean we are all somewhat bad. We all lie and sin! So you can’t just label someone completely bad and hate them for it…”

Then, my mother would say terrible things of my father. They were partially but not totally true.

Mother: “Your dad’s heart is wicked and devilish. He is full of lies. Don’t ever trust his words.”

Me: “He can change! People can change and become better! Why did you have to leave? Dad has stopped his abuses since that summer. It has been months since then! Won’t you give him another chance?”

Mother: “I can’t stand him and his temper. I can’t stand the midnight conversations. He will not let me sleep. I specifically warned him that I will only give him three chances. He used those chances up so I left. Do you not remember the time two years ago when I almost left? Do you not remember the scar on my neck? I was almost choked to death. I gave him one last chance. If he hit me again, I said I would leave. I delayed my leaving because you had to take the high school entrance exam.”

Me: “But God can change people…”

Mother: “Your dad will never change. When you grow older, you will come to understand the reasons yourself.”

And another time…

Me: “I just want to hear this from you. You did not cheat right?

Mother: “How could you ask me this? Do you not believe me? Have you fallen for your dad’s lies? I would never do that. Why would I do that? Why would I care about buying a house for the family and borrowing money from our relatives if I was prepared to leave for another man?”

Both presented quite elaborate arguments. Could I really tell who was telling the truth? It was all words. No evidence shown. Just a constant back and forth with words of their own accounts of what happened and what caused the breakup. In the end, I still leaned toward my mom’s side of the story.

I hated my dad’s temper and I was biased against him. I had little love for him at that time because of the suffering he has caused me, emotionally and physically. But I see his heart softening (praise God!) over the years as we fought less and less. As I grew in Christ, I began to see what I can do to keep his temper down.  He does not have a totally evil heart. I know him well enough to understand this. My dad is very crafty and he just uses that craftiness for evil rather than for good. He has a very bad temper but that is only if I feed it. He has a love for money and always thinks in terms of money and saving face. Yet, this can change by God’s mercy and grace.

My youth leader told me back then that I did nothing wrong and that my parents were the ones in the wrong. I could not understand her words because I was too immature. So I just cried. I wept in front of God and my brothers and sisters as we prayed. God was more than just someone who can give me material possessions. He was able to give me emotional support and comfort. Though I was wounded and wishing for death, He healed me. Though I could not smile for a time due to my circumstances, God brought joy into my life and mended my wounds.

When I was in distress, I sought out God. When I was happy, I did not seek Him out. Much of what I did for God, I did out of my own strength and according to my own whims. It was not a life of walking after the Spirit at all. Rather, it was a selfish life. Sin has begun to die but I clung on to some sins, unable to totally repent. Even so, I knew I was His and I was saved. Nothing can separate God’s love from my life from the point I first believed in Christ and gave my life to Him. I knew what was wrong with me yet I was unable to change my actions nor my habits through my own strength. God had His timing. My heart was already slowly being worked on; however dark it was, it was being cleansed.

My mind was usually on schoolwork during the schoolyear. Rarely did I think about family matters because I had so many venues for escaping. It was only when school breaks came that I dreaded staying at home. I dreaded being with my dad when he was home. I felt sorrow whenever I met my mother. Those were the main negative/bittersweet moments during high school. I felt resentment and yelled at both of them for no reason many times. In return, they would yell back and scold me for being disrespectful. They do not understand to this day how much I resented the separation. I often cried to the Lord for forgiveness for I knew I harbored anger and I was unable to let go. I still praise God that He was able to divide and separate my school pressures from my family problems. He was able to prevent one from spilling into the other. Family problems only happened when I did not have homework or schoolwork.

My family situation went against my ideals of what married life should be. Unfortunate circumstances filled my parents’ marriage from beginning to end. My mom’s story of how she and my dad got married was tragic. I do not think I can share that story so easily. If it was true, then, how can I ever forgive my father for his trickery? Only by God’s work of grace in my heart. Only then…

At the end of it all, my parents ended up permanently going their own separate ways. They remarried after I graduated from high school. Because they have free will, God could not answer my prayer in the terms and conditions I have set it up to be. Some things are indeed impossible for Him but only because He chose to make them impossible. He desires all to be saved but not all will be saved due to this thing called free will. In His sovereignty, He chose to limit His power when it comes to humanity’s free will. Yet, this does not mean He will not come to those who rely on Him. He will comfort and save those who hope in Him. He is mighty to save.

Nowadays, I ask that God bring my parents into His family. This is possible because God’s light can be revealed to my parents. If their hearts are not truly wicked or darkened, this light will reveal their sin to them. If God continues to work in me, they will see this light. They will be judged and I pray that their eyes will be opened. I want them to fully understand the Truth and freely choose for themselves to love God rather than this world. I want Satan’s lies to be broken. Please free them, God.

Though I live with a broken worldly family, I am also part of the family of Christ. This family is my true family, the family I know can never be broken. It is held together by the love and grace of God.

Praise God for His mercies and for His provisions! I know God can give anything to me if I ask with faith. It is just a matter of timing. But now that You are changing my heart, do I desire anything other than to do Your Will and to please You? I still selfishly long for some things in this world but these are not essential to me and I am learning to give them wholly up to You. Though it pains me to give them up to You, I will be obedient for I know You are good and You are able to do greater things once I abide completely in You. Work in me so that I may learn to deny myself and carry the cross. I cannot die to myself if You do not show me how. I cannot die to myself without Christ’s grace in me. I need Your freedom and Your truth constantly beside me to light my way. Teach me, Holy Spirit.

You know my heart and my attitude right now. I see how great of a work You have done in my life. You know how much work is still left to be done in me. So let me take courage in Your words below and persevere in my daily walk with You:

9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. (John 14: 9-14).

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  1. I shared your blog post with a couple people in CBS whom I thought would be encouraged/helped by it. =D Keep pursuing God and believing in the hope we have. !

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