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A mother’s plea: Why does God delay answering my prayers? II of II

August 6, 2012 by  
Filed under Difficulties, Fr. Bartunek, Prayer, Suffering

Why Does God Delay Answering My Prayers?
Part II of II


Dear Father John,

Two of my college educated sons have been out of work for several years. Fortunately, both wives work. What happens typically is that our hopes get raised when they get called in for an interview, are asked to come back, and then another for post on why does God delayinvitation follows for additional meetings. Then the news comes saying they chose someone else. The emotional roller-coaster is brutal. My prayer to God has been that I will pay any price that needs to be paid for them to get jobs as long as He doesn’t tell me in advance what He will ask. I am at a loss to understand why nothing seems to break for them. I know that God often delays answering prayers. I also know the value of redemptive suffering. I am beginning to grow concerned that their faith will weaken because of what seems like disinterest from God. You have written about redemptive suffering before. But what do you say when God appears to delay in giving any succor, especially when the request is to be able to take care of your family. I know God cherishes the family, especially when it is under such attack. It seems like nothing is coming from heaven to support them. Please help me find something to say to them so they don’t lose faith and hope in this relentless phase of struggle and ongoing disappointment.

In our first post, we discussed reasons why God may not always answer our prayers right away, even though our families are suffering greatly. Also, a few practical tips were given to help in our spiritual development during these times of suffering.

When a Mother’s Love Feels Helpless

But you also asked a second question. What can you tell your sons, what can you do for them, so that their faith does not fail? You are going to like my answer to this question even less than my answer to your first question. Let me begin by quoting Our Lord’s words to St. Peter at the end of the Gospel of John, when Peter asked Jesus what was going to happen to the other disciple (St. John): “What about him, Lord?” St. Peter wanted to know what was in store for the younger disciple, maybe because he cared so much about him and was concerned for him. And Jesus responds curtly, “If I want him to stay behind till I come, what does it matter to you? You are to follow me” (John 21:22). Jesus curbs Peter’s concern and anxiety, telling him to stay focused on his own discipleship and to trust that Jesus will take care of the rest.

Your mother’s heart yearns to comfort your sons, to save them from suffering, to surround them with light and warmth and success. This is right, this is healthy, this is true. And yet, ultimately, you cannot determine how they will respond to God’s grace. As much as you want to assure that they keep the faith and seek God and grow in holiness, you cannot. You can only do your part. In the end, each of your sons is responsible for his relationship with God. Each of your sons is responsible for how he will deal with the present crisis. Each is free to grow in patience, humility, wisdom, and courage, or to rebel against a God who loves us so much that he refuses to spare us from hardship: “… for the Lord trains those he loves, and chastises every son he accepts” (Hebrews 12:6).

Learning to Let Go and Let God

When your sons were smaller, you could control their environment and even their reactions more directly. They were more dependent on you. But now you can only influence them and their circumstances indirectly. Peacefully accepting the limitations of your influence will give great glory to God, because it will bring your trust in God to a new level. And even if one of your sons does rebel against God in the midst of this trial, through prayer and trust you should maintain your interior peace, even as you offer to God the suffering you may experience. After all, even a violent rebellion isn’t the end of the story – the story only ends on Judgment Day.

Remember, God loves your sons even more than you do, and he will honor your love for them far more than you can imagine, as long as it is a pure love, as long as your love for God and your trust in him stay in first place. So continue to do what you can to support and encourage your sons and help them bear their crosses, through your prayers, your example, and whatever words and deeds circumstances permit you. But relinquish in your heart and mind – as many times as necessary – the control you wish you had. It is not up to you to save them, but only to be an instrument of God’s grace to whatever extent he permits. God is God; we are not God. And with God on our side, “who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). “We are well aware that God works with those who love him, those who have been called in accordance with his purpose, and turns everything to their good” (Romans 8:28). That is our assurance, that is our hope, that is our rock and our refuge.

I will pray for you and for your family, and I would ask our other readers to do so as well.


Art for this post asking Why Does God Delay?: Nossa Senhora das Dores (Our Lady of Pains or Our Lady of Sorrows), Domingos Sequeira (1768-1837), 18th to 19th century, PD-US, Wikimedia Commons.

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About Fr. John Bartunek, LC

Fr. John Bartunek, LC, S.Th.D, received his BA in History from Stanford University in 1990. He comes from an evangelical Christian background and became a member of the Catholic Church in 1991. After college, he worked as a high school history teacher, drama director, and baseball coach. He then spent a year as a professional actor in Chicago before entering the religious Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ in 1993. He was ordained a Catholic priest in 2003 and earned his doctorate in moral theology in 2010. He provided spiritual support on the set of Mel Gibson’s "The Passion of the Christ" while researching the 2005 Catholic best seller, "Inside the Passion"--the only authorized, behind-the-scene explanation of the film. Fr. John has contributed news commentary regarding religious issues on NBC, CNN, Fox, and the BBC. He also served as the English-language press liaison for the Vatican’s 2005 Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist. His most widely known book is called: "The Better Part: A Christ-Centered Resource for Personal Prayer". His most recent books are "Spring Meditations", "Seeking First the Kingdom: 30 Meditations on How to Love God with All Your Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength", and "Answers: Catholic Advice for Your Spiritual Questions". Fr. John currently splits his time between Michigan (where he continues his writing apostolate and serves as a confessor and spiritual director at the Queen of the Family Retreat Center) and Rome, where he teaches theology at Regina Apostolorum. His online, do-it-yourself retreats are available at, and he answers questions about the spiritual life at

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  • LizEst

    Praying for you. I would add that you may want to enlist the Blessed Mother and St. Monica to intercede for your sons. They know your anguish, the anguish only a mother knows.

  • Sorry if this off topic but the Monsoon Rains here in Metro Manila and neighboring Provinces have been relentless for over a week now. Many have been evacuated due to floods but there have also been landslides and people trapped in their homes. May I please ask you guys for a prayer request? Thank you so much!!!

    • LizEst

      Thanks for bringing this to our attention. I have prayed and will pray. Seasonal torrential rains are unbelievably powerful in the tropics. Knowing that, I can only imagine how devastating the monsoon rains must be. May God bless you and keep you safe, Mary.

      • Thank you! We’ve had 500mm of water in 24 hours and 53 people have died already. Hope it go any higher. With a forecast of another day like this. Wish we could give you guys some of our water. It would solve both our problems…

        • LizEst

          Yes, we would love to have some of that water! For those not using the metric system, that 500 mm is close to 20 inches of water in 24 hours!

          • Thank you! Huge relief this morning to see rays of sunlight streaming though my window. Praise the Lord! No more rain!

          • LizEst

            God is good. “Praise him, sun and moon” (Psalm 148:3a). To him be glory and honor for ever and ever.

  • Ralyge

    Love this Q and A. As a parent, it is so difficult to remember that we can do everything right but our children still have their own choices to make. In these situations, I always consecrate my children to Mary, mother of us all. I know that she can reach deep into their hearts, where I can’t, and that her love and concern has a perspective and perception that I don’t have.

    • LizEst

      Wise counsel, Ralyge. God bless you.

  • Saintsdancenrome

    Father you quoted scripture that the Lord trains those he loves, and chastises every son he accepts” (Hebrews 12:6). We have all had to suffer a great losses with the economy, but truely I believe the mother needs a lot of us to pray that God answers her prayers. I have suffered going back to school at the age of 45; which the suffering God has placed on all of us due to a world that fails to recognize him; but twitter, facebook & the soical media, that God claims we have subsituted for the real God. Please before you mention his chastisement, maybe you should offer her advice to pray a novena to St. Teresa of the little flower or St. Joseph. Suffering is hard when not even a priest is willing to offer comfort, but to say we are being chastised. Feeling God’s anger myself right now, comfort is needed to hope that God’s bright light will be there to help us out of such darkness; & not lead us to dispair. My advise to the Mother, Pray offer acts of self-denial, (no TV or any snacks visit church on Sat. in honor of Bl. Mother beggin her help& she is pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy imploring the Saints (Joseph to intercede & do a 30 day novena to St. Teresa.  Prayer is always the answer!!!!

  • Saintsdancenrome

    Asking a mother to say such things as well Look to Christ, one only finds God’s joy & will by the Sacraments to keep them strong during such difficulties. Adoration, praying the Rosary is what I adivse the mother to ask her sons to implore God to give them great faith that he is preparing the RIGHT job for them. When I was looking for work & none of the companies were hiring me I became dissappointed, but realized God had a better place for me. All 17 companies I applied for work, are no longer is business. So please ask people to pray, when these times are so tough that he gets us through most difficult times of our lives.

    • Did you read Part I of this two part series?

  • G8r

    I don’t know when this article was posted, but I’d like an update on how things turned out for the sons. My interest stems from the obvious pain in the family and from my own situation which mirrors the sons’.

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