Some of God’s Greatest Gifts are Unanswered Prayers

“If all my prayers aren't answered, then, Lord, I'll understand.”

(photo: Unsplash/CNA)

The other day I was watching one of the morning talk shows. Garth Brooks was the celebrity guest that day. He brought his guitar and proceeded to sing a simple but beautiful song he wrote entitled, “Unanswered Prayers.” The lyrics of this song really resonated with me.

Essentially the song described a time when he ran into a high-school girlfriend while he was with his wife. He realized this girl was not the “angel he remembered in his dreams.” Obviously time changed him and her. The song further expresses his awareness after looking at his wife and the old girlfriend walking away; a realization came to him that he needed to thank God for the “gifts in his life.” He is at that moment cognizant of the fact he needs to be thankful to God for the unanswered prayers that ultimately are His greatest gifts—like the gift he has in his wife. He was interviewed about the lyrics and basically said God knew all along what he had just recognized at that moment.

We can all remember praying to God for something we thought was so critical; things like wanting to win the lottery or praying for someone’s renewed good health or affording that special gift for a child at Christmas. Even though God taught us with his own gift of prayer what we should always remember. It is His most important message in prayers—“Thy will be done;” Most of us don’t think of that when we’re praying. It’s obvious though this is the core of all our prayers; but one that’s easy to forget. “Thy will be done.”

I remember when I had cancer and was about to face a seven-hour surgery. I prayed to God to please let me come through this surgery since so many people needed me. God of course had His own plans. Directly following surgery I heard the doctor say he was surprised I had a stage one tumor. In his words, “The pathology report was a surprise to all five surgeons. We were truly shocked. In short, Cathy, you truly dodged a bullet!” I prayed to get through cancer, but God wanted me to know it was more than just cancer I survived—I received a miracle. I did more than recover from the cancer surgery. I apparently had a tumor growing for over 15 years and the expectation was that I would be lucky to survive, or at the very least have a stage three or stage four tumor. Nine years later I know it was always God’s idea that I not just survive. I needed to acknowledge God had his own answer to my prayers.

It was after that experience that I began writing. I have over 130 published articles for various Catholic websites. In the last four years in all my writings, I try to acknowledge that God is at the core of all of our lives, even when we fail to see Him there. God had his own answer for what I was meant to do.

It’s difficult to “let go and let God!” I know. It’s a lesson I’m challenged with daily.

“Some of God’s greatest gifts are all too often unanswered prayers,” as stated in the Garth Brooks song.

As we approach Advent and Christmas, let’s do so with this prayer in mind.

Dear Lord, I want to thank you
For what you've done for me
For all these many blessings
In a world that's caught in grief and misery
No matter where I wander
I'm always in your sight
And so, my friends,
Upon this Christmas night
If all my prayers aren't answered
Then, Lord, I'll understand
There's others more deserving
Others, Lord, who need a helping hand
I pray you'll guide and keep me
Ever near the light
And so my deepest thanks, my Lord
Upon this Christmas night

Songwriter: Marty Robbins

I would only add one more thought to this prayer/song; “Thy will be done!”