When our prayers go unanswered, it ought to be a wake-up call to dive back into the means of grace God has mercifully provided for us. One of those means of grace is the local church. Fellowship with like-minded Christians in the gathering of the local church is crucial to a Christian’s spiritual life.
Unanswered prayer can be excruciating. If we’re not careful, it can seem like God has completely abandoned us, left us without any hope. But we know from God’s Word that’s not true. We know God’s character. What we know about God supplants what we may sometimes feel about God. We know he’s good (Psalm 25:8), righteous (Psalm 119:137), and faithful to his promises (Psalm 145:13), even when our feelings say he’s ignoring us.
Our natural instinct is to withdraw, turn away, and shrink back when God tells us no. Our first step is backward, not forward. Instead of digging in, we give up. Rather than pushing forward, we retreat back. We despair, pout, and, depending on the situation, get angry. But we should know by now that God never turns away from the cries, pleas, and supplications of his children. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. He is eager to hear our prayers. The sound of our prayers is a beautiful noise. And it gets even better: he loves listening to our prayers even when he says no them. It’s not as if he throws the unanswered prayers in a divine trash can. No, God wants us to respond to unanswered prayer by pushing further into him, by drawing nearer.
This is a sign of genuine faith. No matter the difficulty— even via unanswered prayer—we push on forward. We lean into him. We keep marching toward him by faith because we know what Scripture says and we know how fickle our emotions can be. We rely on the unbreakable foundation of the Bible rather than the uneasy waves of our feelings.
So, you might ask, if God wants us to come closer to him even after he tells us no, how do we do that? In what can seem to be the most difficult time of our lives—where our whole life is falling apart—how in the world do we draw closer to God?
Four words. The means of grace. What are the means of grace? They’re how we commune with our God and grow as Christians. And one specifically is very important to help us grow: the local church.
Nowadays the necessity of the local church has been thrown out the theological window. When online church is running rampant, it’s all the more important to understand why being in church—in-person with other like-minded believers—is drastically important.
I think all Christians understand the value of living in community with other followers of Christ.