Longing for Nostalgia

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When Heaven Is Silent: The Value of Unanswered Prayer

Feeling connected with the transcendent is more important than having the sacred solve earthly problems. Read More


The article mentions how some people when they feel their prayers have not been answered feel they or the person they prayed for might not have deserved an answer. Some argue that the reason the prayer is seemingly unanswered is because God has a bigger plan and answering the prayer would only make matters worse overall. Since human beings are blamed for evil and for the casualties of the divine plan, it follows that prayer can increase anger and vindictiveness. Is it really fair or right in principle to encourage prayer for prayer goes with the notion that God might not answer for you do not deserve an answer? That is a hideous suggestion! We do not have the right to accuse others of being the problem and to make that accusation on faith grounds. You only say things like that if you have really good and proper evidence. Innocent until proven guilty!

The impact of disappointment

Thank you for your comment. The recent research on prayer shows that unanswered prayer can result in a variety of effects in different people. As with other types of disappointment, some people tend to blame themselves or worry about their self-worth. Similar feelings can occur when a romantic relationship or marriage ends or when someone is not selected for a sports team or professional position. Such a psychological dynamic is not exclusive to unanswered prayers. Social support, and in serious cases counseling, can protect and advance psychological well-being and growth following adversity and disappointment.

Research shows that most people do not abandon their faith or succumb to long term negative impacts. This finding is consistent with the central point that prayer serves a deeper purpose than asking for specific requests.

Everything has time!

All prayers are answered, the only difference is that a few are answered at its own time. We don't know how this timing is decided but when decided, it is always for our own good. However, we fail to understand this and become pessimistic.


As you have pointed out, people differ in how they interpret outcomes of their behaviors. What might be first understood as a failure can be reinterpreted in a constructive way to lead to personal growth. For many who are devout in their religious beliefs, giving up on God or on prayer would present an unacceptable alternative. Choosing to believe in the face of suffering is a source of support for many, according to recent research.

God is Real!

I am SO glad this topic was tackled here in this article. It answered a lot of questions I've had on my mind for a very long time (and I know billions of other people across the globe ponder them too). I actually didn't even know there had been any research on this, so it's fascinating to read the various ideas and studies that have been conducted.
I personally believe strongly in the power of prayer. No matter what naysayers try to bring up, they can't combat the personal experiences and knowledge so many (like myself) have and continue to experience. God is a Real Person, and to those who have met Him and seen His Power, no amount of skepticism can overrule that truth.

long history

Consideration of religious experience as a serious topic of study has a long history in psychology. William James published his classic book, "Varieties of Religious Experience," in 1902. Ideally, as a social science, psychology strives to conduct research in as objective a way as possible. However, the philosophical perspective of the researcher can influence the questions asked, how the questions are framed, and the methods used to study them. If you trace the history of empirical research, you'll find that what has been learned about prayer has grown along with the development of more sophisticated approaches to researching such a complex construct.


...aren't answered because there's no one there to listen to them. And if you think a prayer if yours was ever 'answered', look for possible non-supernatural causes for the series of events, I guarantee you there will be some.

Still thinking that there is such a thing as a god? And that it/he is all-powerful? And promised in his word that 'whatever you ask in my name will he given unto you'', and 'ask, seek, knock' and it will be yours? Then ask yourself.....Why won't god heal amputees?

Then note all the excuses your brain now starts to think of. And realise that god can't heal amputees, because he/it is not real. Not real.

belief and disbelief

As a psychologist, not a theologian, I point out that recent research suggests that the primary purpose of prayer is not that of making requests. Many believers come to accept that their requests were not and will not be realized. Maintaining their faith despite the expectation that prayer requests won't be satisfied suggests that for many people faith and prayer are not primarily about making petitions. Many studies suggest that religious or spiritual experience is not based upon and does not depend upon logical or rational thinking. Although thinking is part of the experience, spirituality is more complex than rational thought alone.

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Krystine Batcho, Ph.D., is a professor at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York.


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