Prayer is most often an appeal to God to change a difficult or helpless situation. The Lord sovereignly answers our requests as His wisdom, righteousness and love dictate; sometimes He answers yes and sometimes no. The Lord has His reasons and they always glorify Him. Sometimes God changes our situations as we request (i.e. concerning employment, health, finances, etc.), and sometimes He leaves the situation and seeks to change our attitude (e.g. Paul’s thorn in the flesh, 2 Cor. 12:7-10). When God does not remove a difficult situation as we request, then He intends for us to deal with it. God uses difficult situations to remove pride (Dan. 4:37; 2 Cor. 12:7-10), or to develop godliness (Jam. 1:2-4). It’s almost always the case that we prefer God change our circumstances rather than our attitude; and yet, it seems both biblically and experientially that God prefers to do the opposite. Though the Lord is concerned about our difficult situations, He’s more concerned with developing the character of Christ in us than about relieving our discomfort.
Steven R. Cook, D.Min.