Unanswered Prayers

Please, dear God, don’t let him make any mistakes.

This was my hastily whispered prayer three years ago when my eleven-year-old son sat down at the piano to perform in the spring recital.  He was playing a difficult piece – one that he had been working on for months.  I knew he was nervous.  I held my breath as he began to play.

Despite my plea to God, there were several noticeable mistakes in his performance, including one heart-stopping moment where he seemed to lose his place in the music before picking it back up again.  My heart fell.  My son is a deeply sensitive boy and a perfectionist.  I knew he would be devastated by these mistakes.  And he was.  No matter how many times my husband and I told him he did a great job and we were so proud of him, he would not hear it.  With choked back sobs and tears of frustration, he could not get past it.

He wasn’t the only one who was frustrated. I had a bone to pick with God.  “Come on!!  It was a simple request!  You can move mountains and part seas!  Was it really so impossible to help a boy get through one piano piece?!?”  I felt rejected and a little bit betrayed.  I couldn’t understand why God refused to say “yes” to this simple prayer.

Fast forward two years.  We were back at the same music studio for another piano concert.  My son had chosen an even more challenging piece to perform.  He knew it by heart and he was ready. Before he began to play, his teacher got up to say the following words about my son: “When he chose this piece to learn, as his teacher my first instinct was to talk him out of it, because I thought it would be too difficult for him. But he was determined and he worked hard. And he taught me a valuable lesson. Never again will I tell a student what they can’t do.”

The lights dimmed as my son began to play. He did a beautiful job…his fingers flying over the keys as the melody filled the room and my heart. His performance wasn’t perfect. There were some wrong notes and another prolonged pause as he tried to find his place again. I sighed deeply. So close! I guess we’re in for another rough afternoon.

When the recital was over I rushed over to my son to give him a hug. He hugged me back, smiled, and shrugged his shoulders. “Did you notice I lost my place for a few seconds there?” To my surprise, he wasn’t upset. He was ok with it. What a difference from the wrecked little boy of two years ago! My mind jumped back to that moment when I believed that God had denied my prayer. With sudden clarity, I realized how wrong I was. This was God’s answer. This year, this moment, this beautiful evidence of growth in my son. God had been holding him and shaping him and working in him all this time.

I understood. God didn’t say “yes” to my prayer that day. But he didn’t say “no” either. Instead, his answer was “grow.” A lesson in faith to be learned not just by my child, but by me.

God is always loving us and working in our lives, even if we can’t always see it in obvious ways. Think back to the “unanswered” prayers in your own life. Was God really saying no? Or was there a greater plan He had in mind for you?

13 thoughts on “Unanswered Prayers

  1. That was so beautifully stated, Sheri. I have a Muslim friend who taught me the word “insh’Allah” which means, “if God wills it.” He says that Muslims believe that every prayer should end with that. It is an acknowledgment that our own wisdoms are not supreme. Sometimes we do not know what is best for us. You said it so beautifully. Thank you.


  2. I was thinking that very same thing today, Sheri. God clearly and pointedly did not answer my fervent prayers. Not only did he not answer my prayers but he seemed to deliver a crushing blow on top of it! However, someone told me recently that perhaps God had been telling me for quite sometime to “move along”, nudging me in the direction I was meant to go. The nudging didn’t work. In fact, I ignored the nudging. I forced his hand by not listening to the messages — oh, and I HEARD THEM. I assure you. So, your post today hits home like another message from GOD telling me there is a plan. Don’t worry. Everything will be fine. It’s all fine. THANKS for your beautiful words again.


    • I’m glad this post resonated with you Nan. Sometimes the big setbacks make it even harder to accept God’s will. But I firmly believe you will look back on this time and see the many ways that God was at work in you and for you.


  3. Love this!!!Have goosebumps…
    life’s lessons… to help us create who we become… and to help us learn where we are and where we would like to be…
    and sometimes what we think is someone else’s lesson … is really our own….
    Thanks so much Sheri


    • Thanks so much, Cheri! These kinds of lessons are always very humbling for me, because I think it’s all about my kids, when really God was trying to get my attention. Glad you enjoyed it! 🙂


  4. Oh Sheri…..on sooooo many levels I can relate to this post….sooooooo many levels!!!!! I’m all choked up reading it. Thank you and a BIG kudos….a HUGE kudos to your son for not giving up and for persevering thru the toughest and most humbling of situations! I’m so proud of him!


    • Thanks so much, Denise! Isn’t it amazing what God can teach us through our kids? It’s so hard as a parent to see our kids suffer setbacks, but truly a necessary part of growth. 🙂


  5. What an important message for us all- especially those who dwell on perfection. I spend a lot of time planning and wanting things to go the way I think they should and then life throws you curves you never could have imagined or planned for….. I found a quote recently that I am trying to embrace: ” The key to happiness is letting each situation be what it is instead of what you think it should be.” Your post is another reminder, so thank you!


  6. Sheri,
    What a great story and growth! It was inspiring to read and something to keep in mind always. Thank you for that!


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