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Sudie Crouch: What could unanswered prayers mean?

By Sudie Crouch for the Forsyth County News

Over my lifetime, there have been countless times I have been disappointed. 

Things didn’t go as I wanted or expected, and it left me feeling crushed and defeated. 

I can’t tell you how many things I have hoped for that were just complete and utter failures. 

Sudie Crouch
There’s been more than one time, I have just really been bitter and felt like I had lost my faith. 

“Did you pray about it?” Granny would ask. 

“Yeah,” I’d say. “Not that it seems to matter.”

“Whatcha mean? It does too.” 

“No, it doesn’t,” I argued. “I have prayed and prayed – it doesn’t make any difference!”

This was a debate that happened countless times over my lifetime, up until my grandmother passed away and continues even now. 

Mama will encourage me gently to pray and I do. But, I am the first to admit it, sometimes my faith is incredibly weak.

“It only has to be the size of a mustard seed,” Granny would tell me.

Have you ever seen a mustard seed? 

Those cussed things are teeny tiny. 

Even as small as they are, there have been circumstances that have made those little yellow colored granules seem gigantic in comparison to my faith. 

Regardless of the encouragement Granny or Mama tried to give, I have had those moments where my faith has been so weak that I have truly questioned if my prayers were heard. 

“Maybe you did get the answer,” Granny said one day when I fussed about yet another disappointment. “Did you ever think of that?”

“No, I didn’t,” I wailed. “What I prayed about didn’t happen – I didn’t get the very thing I prayed for.”

“Don’t mean your prayer wasn’t answered; it may just look differently than you thought.”

I shook my head frustrated by our conversation. I know Granny was going to argue her stance as she had for years before. And in that moment, I wasn’t feeling it.

“I just don’t think praying doesn’t help sometimes. I don’t know if my prayers are even heard, because they sure don’t seem to be answered.”

She was quiet, which was unusual for the old gal. If she was quiet, she very well be plotting my demise, especially if I dared disagree with her. 

“God answers every prayer,” she began. 

“I doubt that right now,” I replied. 

“Shush your blasphemy,” she said haughtily. 

I wasn’t meaning it to be disrespectful, truly, I wasn’t. I just was struggling with the whole part of praying when things didn’t go the way I wanted. 

“You know what your problem is?” Granny asked. 

I didn’t, but I knew I was about to find out. 

“You don’t let it go. You pray about it, but you don’t turn it over to God to take care of. You think you know the best way to handle something and you take it back and try to mess with it.”

“Oh, is that it?” I said, a tinge of sarcasm coloring my words. “How are you so sure that’s my problem?”

The Redhead Prime frowned. “Because, you are just like me, old gal, and I do the same dadblamed thing.” 

Her admission surprised me a little. Not the part about me being just like her but that she may have somehow struggled in her prayer life.

“What are you saying, Granny?”

She sighed. “This may come as a shock to you, but you and I are just alike, Lil ‘Un. And I have had times where I have prayed and prayed for something to happen and it didn’t.”

But I had never heard her once question something she had prayed about or how God would respond. 

When I was younger and she would drop me off at school on her way to work, and our short drive together was rooted in prayer. 

She’d prayer for our family, for people on the prayer list at church – especially the people she had been talking about – and she’d pray for me to have a good day at school. If I interrupted her, her Church Glare would scare me into silence until she finished. 

After my grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, her prayers didn’t stop but I noticed she was quieter with her prayers; she would sew and pray or sit in Pop’s chair and look out the window while she prayed. 

Even when his condition would worsen, she never stopped, she never argued, and she never questioned why he wasn’t getting better. 

I, on the other hand, was often praying about things and then expecting my requests to be delivered with Amazon Prime drone speed. 

When they weren’t, I was frustrated, upset, angry, and thought maybe God just didn’t hear my prayers. 

Maybe it was because I didn’t go to church as much as Granny said I should. 

According to her, my heathen self should have been sitting in a pew every time the doors were open, and sometimes extra, since she knew where the key to the church was hidden. 

I was waiting for her to tell me that my prayers were not answered because I hadn’t done all the things she had told me over the years I needed to do and braced myself to defend myself. 

“Trust me, Lil’Un, I have done the same plenty of times. I have prayed and prayed, and didn’t get the outcome I wanted,” she said solemnly. “And the best thing I can figure is, sometimes, the answer is just no.”

Sudie Crouch is an award-winning humor columnist residing in the North Georgia Mountains among the bears, deer, and possibly Sasquatch. You can connect with her on Facebook at Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Humor, and Deep-Fried Wisdom. Her recently published book, ‘Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Wisdom, and Deep-Fried Humor’ is available in paperback and Kindle download on Amazon.