How can I trust God when He doesn’t answer a prayer when I really need it and have faith?
This really touches my heart strings on a personal level because I have a dear friend (who I will call BOB – not his real name) whose experience and trials have made him make similar statements as the one you have asked.
I’ve asked his permission to use his story to illustrate how, God, not only answers prayers, He knows you (and me, and every single individual) on a very personal level.
This is (Bob’s) story:
“After committing a very grievous offence against a close family member, and confessing this to my bishop, I was sentenced to serve some time in federal prison. I have never felt so ashamed, guilty, sad in my entire life. But, before all of that, I had, at first, experienced anger at God, the judge, and my lawyer. I was confused and in unbelief. I begun to see things in a differently. I suppose I was being forced to be humble and was given an opportunity to face the result of my actions and acts which contradict God’s clear laws.
I could share many experiences and occasions that confirmed to me that God knew my pain and guilt and sorrow, but I will share one that is most sacred to me, in hopes that it touches the heart of this sister and allow her to be patient and be still, in order to know that God does exist and answers prayers.
After many months incarcerated, I began to feel the heaviness of sorrow which comes from committing sinful acts. After beginning a “job” (inmates in a low security facility were expected to work and I had been assigned to work in the “biowaste” compost site, which was outdoors), I departed to a place where I was all alone. I was in deep contemplation and prayer. I began to reckon my errors and sins, as i had done for the last 14 months in jail. I began to cry while trying to pray to God. I was, in tears pleading with Him to forgive me. I was making statements like, ‘I know I’m not worthy Father, but, please forgive me’ and ‘how could I be so stupid?’. As my thoughts became more and more intense, I began to sob uncontrollably to the point of falling down to my knees.
It had been cloudy for many weeks and we hadn’t seen Sunlight at all for a long time. The clouds were low and although it was noon, it was nonetheless, a dark day. While I was on my knees, and with a heavy and inconsolable feeling of hopelessness, at that moment, I could feel a warmth I had never felt before. Because I was on my knees and praying, I had my eyes closed, it began to get lighter and lighter, and I felt I needed to open my eyes (even if my prayers hadn’t been finished as we normally do), and at that moment, I looked down and saw my own shadow. I then looked ahead of me and saw the same dark clouds were present in the distance, just like that, I asked myself, “how can that be?”. Perplexed and a little confused, I then looked up and saw the sun rays peeking through the clouds and shining right where I was kneeling, spot-lighting me. The “spot-light” wasn’t that big, nor noticeable, but it was there because I could see and feel it. I finally realized that THAT was God letting me know He was there, listening to my prayers. At the same time, the clouds closed and the darkness of a cloudy day returned.The feeling of heavy sorrow turned into a feeling of hope and great gratitude.
I have no doubt that God answers prayers, and at times, it takes a lot of patience and prayer to understand his answers. I am now back in the church, baptized again and waiting to receive my priesthood blessings back. I wish I hadn’t had to learn this lesson the way I did, but I’m glad I went to jail because that’s where I became closer to my Heavenly Father.”
There are many scriptural references and General Conference talks of personal anecdotes from people who become acquainted with God and grow/strengthen their testimonies of Him, whom they call Father. I invite you to not give up. Be clear and precise in your prayers and phrase your questions in such a way, you can understand the answers. Most importantly, don’t give up.
When Christ was on the cross, and just before his earthly departure, he asked His Father, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani”. He now sits at the right Hand of God. IF we’re diligent and maintain our faith and obedience, we’ll be blessed beyond our understanding.