What Happens When You’re Praying for a Miracle and You Don’t Get It?
Not a day goes by without many prayer needs. People are praying for a miracle in their finances, their homes, their relationships. But for some reason praying for miracles of healing can feel especially urgent—scary, even. We have regular opportunities to pray for the sick, but how should we pray? Why do we sometimes shrink back from asking for miraculous healing, even if we believe God is still able to work miracles today?
Maybe we’re not sure how to pray for the sick.
We think, What if they die anyway?
Maybe you’ve prayed before, but it didn’t work.
Maybe you’re heartsick because you’ve lost someone you loved and needed.
First of all, I’m so sorry if your heart is hurting because the people you loved are no longer here with you. I’ve experienced this pain and it’s horrible.
In 2003, my mom was diagnosed with cancer. I did not know if it was His will to heal my mom or if it was her time to go. I sought God and His will like never before. I read my Bible round the clock, at the stop sign, waiting in parking lots. Whenever I could, I read God’s Word.
It was during that time that the Lord opened my eyes to John 10:10 and changed the entire direction of my life. “The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” You see, up to that point, I thought it might be a waste of time to pray for miracles. But, Jesus came that we could have life and life abundantly. I know that means eternal life—and that’s a miracle each and every one of us is offered through faith! But does John 10:10 apply somehow to this life? Are we supposed to ask for miracles of healing in this life, too?
I know these questions are complex. Maybe even controversial, but I can’t see anything in the Bible that asks us not to boldly come to God’s throne of grace with all our needs. In fact, I see the opposite! So, I decided to ask Jesus for abundant life in my mom’s body. We prayed for miraculous healing based on the biblical evidence that God does miracles, and that He brings life!
But on February 6, 2006, I lost my mom. I was heartbroken. Did God not come through for my mom and me? What now? Do I quit praying for others?
What do I do when I’m praying for a miracle and it doesn’t happen?
Most of us try to understand why—what happened? We come up with our own understanding and then with the best intentions share it with those who have suffered a deep loss, like it’s somehow going to make it all better.
Sometimes we come up with unhelpful explanations.
It was just their time to go.
God needed them more than you do.
God just said, “no.”
God always takes the best. He gives and takes away.
None of this is helpful to a hurting soul. So what’s the right response when you’ve been praying for a miracle of healing and you don’t get it?
Here are three things to do when you’re praying for a miracle and you don’t get it.
Do not exhaust yourself trying to make sense of it. We are not supposed to understand everything because we simply can’t understand everything. But we are supposed to pray about everything so we can have the peace that is better than understanding. We get a chance to exercise our faith. Faith can’t be based on what is seen. We get a chance to believe even when we don’t get our way. And remember this: Faith isn’t seeing—it’s continuing to believe even when we do not see.
Only God’s power works the miracles. Our responsibility is to pray, but the weight of the outcome was never meant to be on our shoulders.
Do not stop asking God for His help. After we don’t see the miracle we asked for, many of us back off from praying because we feel inept or maybe we wonder if God even cares. When Mom wasn’t healed, my questions caused me to stop praying for miracles for almost four months. It rocked my foundation because I was carrying the weight of the outcome, but it was never mine to bear. The Bible does tell us to place our hands on sick people and pray for them (Mark 16:15-18). It doesn’t say, “You make them well if your faith is strong enough.” It teaches us to reach out in faith. But only God’s power works the miracles. Our responsibility is to pray, but the weight of the outcome was never meant to be on our shoulders.
Stay in the boat. Let’s say your father asks you to go fishing with him. Some of you are already cringing, but stay with me! When your dad asks you to join him for a lazy afternoon of fishing, it’s not about how many fish you catch—it’s about spending time with your dad. It’s like that with us. Father God has asked you to go on a mission through life with Him. It’s not about how many souls you save or miracles you witness—it’s about doing life together. Never allow your personal circumstances, disappointments, or lack of understanding to cause you to make up your own ideas about God.
The thief wants us to stop believing, to shrink back, to quit, to get angry at God. He wants to steal, kill, and destroy, after all. He loves to make us discouraged about the trials and suffering we endure. But all Jesus followers can say, No way! Not today, Satan! We’re supposed to take heart because Jesus has overcome this world! We may be experiencing a battle, but He already won the war. His Holy Spirit is in us, giving us the hope and boldness we need to continue to live a life that pleases God—including praying for the sick.
So, am I still praying for miracles?
And have I ever seen one? Yes, and yes! I prayed with someone who had a broken toe and it was healed. I got to see it happen. I prayed with someone who had one leg shorter than the other—and their leg is healed and whole now. I’ve seen the power of God bringing abundant life, bringing healing. But I have also not seen it at times.
Faith believes when there is no reason to hope. Faith isn’t seeing; faith is believing. It never stops hoping. It never gives up. Faith is obeying God even when there are no results and believing the results are happening somewhere (maybe even just inside me, reminding me to turn to God as the ultimate source of provision for everything I need).
So you prayed, but didn’t get the miracle right away; never stop believing in a God who sent His Son to give His life so you could have life, and life to the full.