A number of years ago, the movie Sleeping with the Enemy told a frightening story of a woman being mentally, physically, and verbally abused by her husband. Moviegoers connected with its theme that we are sometimes in relationships with people who present themselves as safe but in truth often seek to destroy rather than protect us. I think for many of us sleeping with the enemy is not an actual physical person but our own words, actions, attitudes, and destructive patterns of behavior that keep us separated from or unwilling to accept the love of God.
Unresolved disappointments are the seed for a harvest of bitterness. They are rooted in the attitude that I have the right to be mad at God because he didn’t give me what I wanted. “My baby daddy left me.” “I didn’t get the job I wanted.” “I prayed and my momma still died.” “I prayed and the thing that I was praying against still happened.” are just a few examples. It’s perfectly OK to allow yourself to feel the disappointment but it is important that we don’t get enveloped in the entitlement of disappointment. It’s so very easy for us to allow that attitude to become our companion after we remain in a season of unanswered prayers. God wants us to bring our disappointments to him. However, some of us bring the arrogance that comes from the bitterness of unanswered prayers which we believe gives us the right to remain mad and distant from God.
I know what it feels like to be angry at God because my prayers weren’t answered. I even remember telling God while in prayer that I didn’t see the need for prayer because it didn’t lead to anything. I remember thinking what’s the point in praying when you still don’t get what you want? I could have spent my time watching TV and eating what I wanted as opposed to wasting time in prayer and fasting.
I then read a devotional soon after my tirade that addressed my complaint and immediately brought me to tears of repentance: prayer is not about getting an answer that we like but it’s about building a stronger relationship with God. I felt like I’d insulted God as I selfishly focused on getting things rather than on developing a relationship with him. Though I felt I’d lost so many things as a result of unanswered prayer, I now had to admit that I had a more intimate relationship with God.
The disappointment from unanswered prayer is the enemy because it fools you into believing that God is not listening and doesn’t love you. John 10:10 says “The thief does not come except to steal kill and destroy. I have come that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” God, like any loving father, just wants us to talk to him in prayer.
If we want to increase our intimacy with God, we have to increase our communication with him. In other words, pray. Once we start to spend more time with God in prayer it doesn’t matter whether we get the thing we want. All that matters is that we now have a stronger relationship with God.