When God Isn’t Doing What You’re Praying For

by Lysa TerKeurst October 26, 2023
"'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the LORD. 'As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.'" Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV)

In 2015, The New York Times ran an article called “Googling for God.”

In this article, author Seth Stephens-Davidowitz starts by saying, “It has been a bad decade for God, at least so far.” He goes on to ask, “What questions do people have when they are questioning God?”

The No. 1 question was, “Who created God?”
The No. 2 question was, “Why does God allow suffering?”

But it was the third question that slammed into my heart and made me realize the depth at which many of us struggle when we walk through devastating situations: “Why does God hate me?”

I’m not alone in wondering about God’s feelings when circumstances beg me to feel betrayed. While I have never used the word “hate” in this context, seeing it typed out as one of the most commonly asked questions about God shows me just how dark our perspective can get. The most devastating spiritual crisis isn’t when we wonder why God isn’t doing something. It’s when we become utterly convinced that He no longer cares. And that’s what I hear hiding behind that Google search.

I shudder to say this, but I think that’s what has been hiding behind my own disillusionment as I’ve walked through painful circumstance after devastatingly painful circumstance in recent years. Sometimes what makes faith fall apart isn’t doubt. It’s becoming too certain of the wrong things. Things like: He doesn’t care about me. A good God could not allow this. What I see is absolute proof that God isn’t working.

That’s where I can find myself getting more and more skeptical of God’s love, God’s provision, God’s protection, God’s instructions and God’s faithfulness. I start fearing that He really has no plan at all and that I’m just going to be a victim of circumstances beyond anyone’s control.

The problem with that thinking is that while it may line up with what my life looks like from my perspective of pain and confusion, it doesn’t line up with Truth. And before everything went haywire in my life, I had already put a stake in the ground, proclaiming that God’s Word is what I would return to no matter what.

I could resist trusting God and turning to His Truth. I could run from it. I could, with bitter resignation, put my Bible on a shelf to collect dust for years. But I wouldn’t be able to escape what was already buried deep in my heart.

I knew, in a deep-down knowing place, that what I was seeing in my life wasn’t all that was happening. Past experiences of God’s faithfulness reminded me that I don’t always see God working in the midst of my hard times.

There are a few moments when I’ve seen dramatic moves by God happen quickly enough for me to say, “Wow, look what God is doing!” But most of the time, it’s thousands of little shifts so slight that the dailiness of His work doesn’t register in real time. Isaiah 55:8-9 puts it this way: “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’”

It’s hard when we are living in that space where our heads know God can do anything but our hearts are heavy because He’s not doing what we’ve hoped, what we’ve prayed, what we’ve believed, for a long while. I get it — and I’ve cried many tears because of it.

So what helps? It helps to know these things:

  1. God often works in the unseen. Just because we can’t see it or feel it doesn’t mean He isn’t working (2 Corinthians 4:18).
  2. What may feel like a lack of intervention from God does not signify a lack of affection from God (Lamentations 3:21-23).
  3. God loves us too much to answer our prayers at any other time than the right time and in any other way than the right way (Romans 8:28).

Today, look for beautiful ways God is showing you assurances of His love. His affection is all around you, friend. Even in the waiting places.

God, I know You are always working. Help me acknowledge Your work in the unseen. I confess my skepticism when things are not working out the way I had planned. I choose today to believe I am not a victim of uncontrollable circumstances. Even when I don’t see it, even when I don’t feel it, I will stand on the truth that You are working all things together for good. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


When world events feel chaotic and scary … when you feel crippled by fear and anxiety … when you feel hurt by the very people you thought you could count on … it’s tempting to wonder: Jesus, are You here? Do You care? But the truth is that Jesus is never absent throughout Scripture, and He’s certainly not absent in our lives either. Lysa TerKeurst and Dr. Joel Muddamalle want to help you discover this in their newest Bible study, 30 Days with Jesus: Experiencing His Presence Throughout the Old and New Testaments. Order your copy today!



Find real-life encouragement when you connect with Lysa TerKeurst here on Instagram.


Psalm 27:7-8, “Hear my voice when I call, LORD; be merciful to me and answer me. My heart says of you, ‘Seek his face!’ Your face, LORD, I will seek” (NIV).

While it may be tempting to quit praying when you’re discouraged, how can you continue to seek the Lord today? We’d love to hear from you! Share your thoughts in the comments.

© 2023 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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