When You're Waiting and Praying but Nothing Changes

Originally published Thursday, 21 September 2017.

I pray. I plead. I beg on my knees.

I want something big and I’m sure God wants it too. Surely, if it’s a good thing and it lines up with what God desires, then I should get it. Right?

When any of us pray fervently for months and years, it’s easy to wonder why the good things we want haven’t happened yet, or if they ever will. When they don’t, disappointment creeps in and it looks a lot like a weary heart.

God calls us to a life of prayer. He calls us to surrender, wait, trust, and believe. But, I got to tell ya’, sometimes I wonder what all that really means. Not because I disagree. I passionately desire to do these very things. Rather, because I’m not sure what it looks like practically. It’s easy to say, but what does it mean to do?

I’m inclined to think of laying prostrate in prayer until a time when everything gets fixed. Then my time in prayer would be done and I’ll think I’ve won. Because I prayed long enough or right enough.

Not God winning. But me winning. Winning because I did the very thing he asked me to do until I got God to do what I want him to do. {I cringe to admit this.}

Some of my inclinations have been found woefully inadequate in understanding how God works.


We can pray like crazy (for years) in hopes of seeing a life changed. We want to see someone saved, someone healed, someone freed. Maybe the someone is us and maybe it’s someone we love.

God may call us into a prayer venture with him for the rest of our lives. One that pleads and intercedes for the same thing daily. I won’t dismiss the wild things God calls us to that don’t always make sense to everyone else. I’ve been there myself many times, standing in prayer when others gave up. It can feel isolating and confusing. It tests your fortitude and faith.

Yet, waiting and praying alone isn’t all God asks us to do. Sometimes there’s something else needed.

Courage rising.

Decisions made.

Action taken.

We could be waiting on God to do what He’s waiting on us to do.

This something could look like acceptance for what is, so we can move forward in new ways. It could look like choosing a path we don’t want to take. It might even mean giving up a good thing for the God thing ahead of us.

Maybe you’ve been hanging on to threads of hope while waiting, waiting, waiting. You’re waiting and praying but nothing’s changing and there’s little reason to believe it will.

Hoping against hope could actually be a defense system to keep us from doing the hard work of growing.

If you need a little nudge, allow me to say it’s OK to seek another step towards change. In fact, it might be God is waiting for you to do so. Ask God what that might be. Then respond.

Each of us has an individual journey to take towards living well in this sometimes hard to live life. Each of us can cultivate things to help us do so through prayer, gratitude, praise, and more. These are vital.

However, I wonder how many Christ followers are suffering further because they are waiting for God to fix all their ills. Like me, they’ve hoped and prayed for God to do what they know He can do, but all the prayer in the world doesn’t seem to make it all change for the better.

They are waiting and hoping for things to change without taking steps that could help change to happen.

They are disappointed in themselves because their positive proclamations and years of prayer haven’t produced the kind of fruit in their life they want to see. Weariness weighs heavy. Maybe, they’ve grown depressed or angry or addicted as their assumed “right” answer isn’t making them be who they want to be nor their circumstances to be way they want.

Maybe this is you?

I’ve said it before, prayer is how we battle. We absolutely must engage in prayer and we must do it often. Even so, prayer alone isn’t what makes Christians grow and live according to the best plan God has for them. 

I treasure the beauty and wonder of prayer greatly. I believe in prayer unending and in praying for others in person, via messages, and silently. Prayer changes us.

You know what else? I also believe in the way God speaks to us and leads us into steps of action, trust, and surrender as a result of our time in prayer.

If we stop with telling God what we want in prayer, we limit God to only interpersonal communication and not inner person transformation. We must listen and respond as well. Surrender and trust go hand in hand with walking in faith. We wait for God to act and for His timing to be right.

While we wait, we also walk.

AUTHOR NOTE: I wrote this post for situations when our waiting and praying ends up bringing us to a place of despair. Why? Because we’ve relegated action in our lives to God alone. I’ve been in this place many times. Eventually, I believe God spoke to me in ways that told me to take steps of action rather than living a life of passivity. Those small steps in faith led to greater freedom. My love for God deepened and hope was strengthened. If you find yourself in a similar place, I hope you’ll find resources here to help you in your journey. You can make choices to help cultivate a life well-lived. You have a God who is far greater than could ever be imagined or understood. He is with you.


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