The patience to be learned through unanswered prayer is most valuable. Each one of us is born entirely depraved, unable to think of anything but our own personal needs. As we grow older we become more and more able to attend to the concerns of others, yet apart from the work of Christ in our hearts the concerns of others must always take a back seat to our own. When we are born again we don’t entirely lose this old nature but there is a new nature imparted which battles the old one. Learning the patience of unanswered prayer is one of the tools the Lord gives us in this battle.
You see, our old nature must have what it wants, when it wants it. Impatient creatures that we are, waiting on the Lord is not something that comes naturally. We live in a world of fast cars, fast food, fast service, fast communication, fast lifestyles, basically everything is designed to be as fast as possible. Why? Because our carnal nature must be served, it demands it! Along with helping to align our wills with the will of God, denying this service is the role of unanswered prayer.
Early on in our Christian walk there is still much of the old man residing in us, and much that we pray for is not for the good of our soul. We ought to be more thankful than discouraged that these prayers are not answered, for if they were they would do us more eternal harm than good. Most prayer for the new believer is carnal, addressing physical wants more than spiritual needs, and many a person (especially the lost) will pray when the flesh is seeking out its own service. Why do they pray? Simply to get what they want. They haven’t learned to submit their will to the will of God. Surprising enough, many of these carnal prayers of the lost and the newborn are answered, sometimes the purpose is to teach them that what they had prayed for is not what they needed, other times it is to teach them to seek out the Lord, and still other times it is to allow them to fall deeper into the pit which they are in.
Those who are mature in Christ have had their wills more aligned with the will of God; they have learned to subdue the wants of self and have had their hearts readily prepared to receive the will of God in their life, come what may. They have learned the denial of self the Lord teaches through unanswered prayer, and are ready to move on. Prayer to them is not to some magic genie in a bottle to give them everything they want, prayer to them is sustenance to their soul, it is communion with God, it is the very lifeblood of their being. These people, having learned the patience of unanswered prayer have moved on in Christian growth to the fullness of supply to a thirsty soul in much answered prayer.
Ps 27:14 Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.