That's the question my 5 year-old son has been asking for months. Just before summer he started having bad dreams and stopped wanting to sleep in his room alone. Then he stopped wanting to be anywhere alone. Of course, we began to be very intentional about praying with him for good dreams and peace and for him to be able to trust God and turn to Him anytime he is scared.
I will never forget the morning he woke up, came to me with tears in his eyes, and asked, "Mommy, why isn't God answering my prayers? I had another bad dream last night." My heart just broke. I felt like a horrible parent because I really had no comforting words for him, either. In fact, I felt like I was sitting in the same place myself. There are two big things that I've been crying out in prayer for the last several months, and there's seemingly no answer. I wanted to just sit and cry with him. I just wanted to shout and ask God what I was doing wrong, where my faith was lacking, and why He just wouldn't do something. I knew none of these would help my son. I know it took me longer to answer than it should have, and I still really had nothing deep or spiritual. All I could really tell him was that he just had to keep praying and keep trusting God's word when it says He is our protector and that He loves us and wants the best for us. I reminded him of the parable we had studied during Sophie's first year of homeschooling where the widow continued to go to the judge over and over again. She was persistent in her request and took it to him daily. I reminded him that our prayers are like that, we can continually take our fears, wants, questions, anything to God at all times.
I have to admit, at the time, I didn't feel like that answer was enough for me. I still don't know that it was really the right answer. But, I do know that in this time that I have been on my face, pouring out my heart to my Almighty God, He has taught me to trust and rely on Him, even when I have no idea what He is up to. When no answer comes, or at least the answer that you are wanting, that is the time your faith can really be strengthened. It hasn't been easy or fun, for sure. There have been a lot of struggles and ups and downs as I have had to struggle with what I want verses being willing to trust and follow God and being OK with His will over mine. There are a lot of questions still unanswered. There are still a lot of things that I desire to see happen, but have no idea if they will ever come to be. One of the hardest things in this is continuing to go to Him in prayer. When my prayers aren't answered, I just want to throw in the towel and be done. I want it to be my way or no way. I don't want to keep bringing certain situations or dreams or desires to Him when it feels like He's ignoring anything that has to do with those things.
I am also, very slowly, learning to trust and let go of my own control. And isn't that a huge part of what this Christian life is all about? Letting go of our control and giving it over to God? I mean, He's the creator of the universe. He holds all things together. In Him, all things live and move and have their being. Isn't He much better suited to being in control, anyway?
I must be honest, I really want God to answer Ethan's prayer. To make all the bad dreams stop so that Ethan can declare to me one morning, "Mommy! God answered my prayer! No bad dreams!" In my limited human mind I can't help but think it would be so cool for Ethan to see his prayers answered. How could that not be what brings God the most glory? What rejoicing would go on in this house! Surely that would be what would draw Ethan to Christ and show him how much God cares for him. But, I'm not God. I don't see the whole picture. I don't know what will draw Ethan. I don't know just how things will work out and what E needs most for God to be most real to him. If continuing to have the dreams will draw Ethan to pray more fervently and spend more time with God (I have noticed him wanting to read more Bible stories where people are in scary situations; Daniel, the fiery furnace, etc), then I need to be OK that God's answer isn't my answer. Sometimes, if we got the answer we wanted, we'd simply say "thank You" and then move on, leaving God and the praying behind, never giving it another thought. So many times, at least in my life, it's when things are rough and not going my way, that I get on my knees and get really honest with myself and God. Those are the times that I grow and get deep with God and His word. Many times, at least for me, that doesn't happen when things are going well. I so wish it weren't this way!
Oh, Lord, give me wisdom and discernment to answer my children's questions, always speaking Truth and pointing them to You. Give me the strength to be honest with You in prayer, but to always have the heart of "Your will be done." Don't allow me to ever tire of coming to You in prayer, whether for praise and thanks, or in desperate pleas. Oh, Lord, move in ways that can only be You that Your name may be known and praised by many!