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“There Must Be More to This Journey Than Just Prayer”


Yes! There absolutely is!!!

I spent up to four hours a day praying during those first 14 years of our marriage. God wasn’t answering my prayers. Why, in my case, was He not listening to me?

If I had cherished sin in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened. Psalm 66:18

I have to choose. I can have Jesus or I can have my sin. I can’t have both!

God doesn’t make us change. He is a gentleman and doesn’t force Himself on us. He allows us to choose sin and misery if we want it. Or we can have Him, real spiritual Life, the power of His Spirit, and victory over sin. But we can’t have both sin and Jesus. We must choose one or the other. We can’t just sit around and be upset with God that He won’t change us. That choice is ours to make!

Sometimes wives say to me, “I have been praying. Praying isn’t doing anything. There must be more to it than that.”

There is! Yes!!! We must be willing to completely and totally surrender ourselves and all of our control and all that we want and cherish to the control of Jesus as LORD of all in our lives. He doesn’t answer prayers for those who do not know, love, trust, and obey Him – other than prayers of repentance (turning away from wrong doing).

If we want our prayers to be heard – we must be willing to give up anything that God places His finger on in our lives – sin, wrong motives, desires, dreams, all of our possessions, our bodies, our lives, our time, our health, our families… Jesus is worthy of us giving our ALL to Him. He certainly gave ALL for us! We must be willing to hold all things but Christ loosely in our hands. We must totally give up our will and Self for Him.
Then He will hear our prayers, forgive our sins, and begin to radically transform us into the image of Christ. But He must be Lord of our lives, not just Savior. Those who love Him obey Him (John 14:23-24). Those who don’t obey Him – according to Jesus – don’t love Him.ย We must be in right relationship with God in order for God to hear our prayers. We come to Him through what Jesus did for us – not through any goodness in our own strength. We are totally dependent on the death of Christ on our behalf and His grace for our salvation. And when we do come to Him, we are totally dependent on Jesus living in and through us to empower us to walk in obedience. We can’t do any of this in our own power!

One of the evidences of salvation is that we have a desire to obey and please our Lord. If we cherish sin in our hearts and desire sin more than we desire Christ – something is horribly wrong spiritually.

The sin that I cherished in my heart that separated me from God and grieved His Spirit in my life:

Pride, thinking I was so much more spiritual than other people, a critical spirit, bitterness, unforgiveness, doubt (toward God), worry, fear, gossip, unbelief in God, lack of trust in Him, I had self on the throne of my life rather than Christ, lack of submission to Christ as Lord, disrespect toward God, disrespect toward Greg, idolatry of several things (things I wanted more than Jesus in my heart – control, my way, happiness, romance, my vision of marriage, etc…).

Until I am willing to lay down EVERYTHING I have, EVERYTHING I am, and EVERYTHING I might ever be – I am not allowing Jesus to be fully Lord. And I will be stuck in misery.

This is the path to the healing, blessings, joy, and peace of God in our lives.

  • Total surrender to Him.
  • Total trust in Him.
  • Total faith in Him.

Knowing Him more, loving Him more, obeying Him, His will, and His glory become the most important things in my life.

It often takes some intense wrestling in prayer to get to this place. It did for me! And it is scary at first. But once you do truly trust Christ and He begins to work in your life, you realize the scary place to be is trusting yourself and the best place to be is trusting God.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, โ€œWhoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. ย For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Fatherโ€™s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done. Matthew 16:24-27

If you are afraid to trust God – study His character and His attributes and discover who He truly is! Ask Him to change your heart so that you desire Him more than anything else in the world. Ask Him to show you your sin and to help you hate it as much as He does. Ask Him to give you faith to come to Him! He will do it – if you are willing to give all of yourself to Him.

David Platt – Secret Church – Who Is God?


“Please God, Ask Me for Anything But This!”

Praying from an Obedient Life

Dying to Self

Giving All Of Myself to Christ – a Prayer

Godly Femininity

Stages of This Journey

34 thoughts on ““There Must Be More to This Journey Than Just Prayer”

  1. Thank you very much for your posts. They have blessed me very much and pointed me to Jesus. I have been going through a horrible time in my marriage and have felt very alone. Your blog has reminded me God is there and His way is better than my way. Gbu xx

    1. Struggling wife,

      My dear sister! I wish I could give you a big hug! I’m so sorry for your pain. But how I praise God that He has lifted up your chin to look toward Him!

      How may we pray with you?

      Much love!

  2. Again and again …Focusing on the lord ..knowing him asking him to show me what he dislikes about me and allowing his holy spirit to change me is the shortest cut to save my marriage …Perfect message to remind me of working on me no ton my husband ..Oh lord help me to release my husband and seek you …

    1. NancyGrace,
      Thank you for sharing! I pray God will continue His good work in you to completion and that His will and His good purposes might be accomplished in your life, your husband’s life and your marriage!

  3. God listens and works with us where we are. 4 hours seeking him were not wasted, even in your stubborn sin. God was working with it and 14 years later it was able to bear fruit. God listens to sinners that seek him. I’m just saying this as a balance.

    1. Katy,

      My attitude was so very prideful! I was disrespectful toward God and tried to dictate to Him what He should do. It was truly awful!

      I thank Him that He did open my eyes to my sin and that He has been willing to change me in spite of the irreverence with which I approached him for so long. The motives and attitude of my heart and my pride were not conducive to God hearing my prayers.

      There are some situations where people have pure motives and pray for a long time in persistence. I believe God does answer those prayers. But my prayers were like the prayers of the Pharisee Jesus described – the one who did not go home reconciled to God like the tax collector did.

      Thank you for sharing! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Excellent word today, April! Every time you post anything about giving our ALL to Jesus and putting sin to death, it makes me stop and think and realize I have a ways to go. Thank you for continuing to challenge us and point us to Jesus!

    1. Anon,

      It can definitely be a process of surrendering over time. And sometimes, even when we do give ALL – we see layers later as God shows them to us – that we need to surrender. Or there are new things that come up that we need to be sure to lay on the altar. It is a daily process of surrender and being a living sacrifice.

      Much love to you!

  5. I think another thing is to never underestimate the power of intercession. If your prayers seem to be going unanswered, if God seems to have turned His face from you, if you can’t feel any love or peace inside you, and even your heartfelt desire for God’s presence is being ignored… ask someone else to pray for you.

    For years I’ve been in pain (mostly due to my marriage, or maybe the pain has been manifested most clearly in my marriage but the source has been my own sin and forsaking of God when I married my unbelieving husband). It all came to a head several years ago when my husband had a devastating affair while I was pregnant with our second child. We were living abroad at the time, with no access to English-speaking counselors, churches, and no real friends. For years afterwards I would alternate between crippling sadness, bitterness, and numbness at the best of times. My prayers went unanswered for 6 years. I lost every last shred of hope in a good God. Then, when things seemed at rock bottom, the dynamics changed and one of the things for which I’d been begging the cosmos (I no longer had any faith in our Christian God) happened – my husband chose to move us and our daughters back to our home country, after years abroad. Everything fell into place, even as far as finding a church of my former denomination 3 blocks from our new home! I was finally happy… for a few weeks. Then my husband lost the job we had staked everything on, became depressed, and our already fragile marriage started crumbling again. It was at this point I found this blog, desperately seeking online advice if I should just get divorced.

    Months of learning that I needed to regain a belief and trust in God rather than trying to put my husband and marriage first seemed to help, but I STILL had little peace and my marriage was just barely hanging on. When my husband got a wonderful new, full-time job I thought God had FINALLY answered a prayer! My husband is very driven to provide for me and our daughters and his inability to do so was crushing him. Unfortunately, this job is a thousand km away and we couldn’t all move, as we had no money for anything larger than a room in the new city, and our daughters were just in the last term of school. Two months of struggle and unhappiness went by, where I felt our marriage was still falling apart and that God’s face was still turned against me. Two months of intense prayer, rooting out of sin and idols, and STILL no peace, no joy, no love, no trust. Two months of begging God to heal me and help me to love Him. Nothing. Just a continued distrust of my husband (still having a hard time trusting him even though I’m finally learning to respect him) and an utter lack of hope that God cares enough to bless my life. After all, what’s good in my opinion may not be at all in God’s plan. But… I DID have a strong desire to seek and do God’s will. No hope, no trust, but a strong desire. After two months, I finally broke down and asked for intercessory prayer, and you know what? For the first time, I started feeling some peace! God had been faithful to me, and given me two months to get to know Him without the temptation or distraction of my husband but I guess He knew I needed to go to a deeper level of relying on Him.

    I am praying that God helps me to love him, and that God will bless my life and help me to count trials as joy because they will strengthen my faith. Sometimes I hear a whisper in my heart “baby steps… keep praying no matter what”. Reading Habakkuk was good for me because it’s about keeping faith even when God seems to be absent or unloving. Forcing myself to give thanks and try to seek silver linings also helps. Looking beyond my feelings and trying to keep a smile on my face and letting go of anger helps. And another huge thing for me was realizing I simply can hand over to God the things I really struggle with (anger, bitterness, envy, jealousy, gossip) and He WILL take those burdens!!! I now thank God for the good work He will do in my future, even when I struggle to actually believe it. I find that I have more to thank Him for than I did a month ago. He’s teaching me, step by step, to trust Him, which is what I’ve been praying for for many months.

    There’s a lot more to this journey than just prayer, but if you can’t find that exuberance and passion for Christ, start with a simple prayer that God will give you what you need to love Him.

    1. peregrine042,

      Oh how my heart breaks for the pain you have gone through!

      But praise God for what He has done and is doing and will do in your life! THANK YOU for the encouragement about intercessory prayer. YES!!!! Such a powerful healing tool. What a beautiful thing God is doing i your heart now.

      THANK you for sharing! I am so blessed by reading your testimony.

      Much love and the biggest hug to you!

    2. I am so blessed by reading this testimony, Peregrine042, and I am praying for you. Thank you for sharing, and being so painfully honest, and I hope it helps others too. Keep looking at those silver linings, and giving your burdens to a God who is more than able to carry them for you. ๐Ÿ™‚
      I have had a massive struggle lately, and yesterday someone prayed with me, and I felt God say to me “Let ME worry about that” and I realised I didn’t need to be carrying this myself and I could just let go of it!
      Jesus says “Come unto me all you who labour and are heavy laden and you will find rest for your souls… My yoke is easy and my burden is light” He doesn’t say go round without a yoke and do what you like!, but that His ‘yoke’ is easy, it’s the way of peace and rest. As April has so clearly demonstrated in her own life when she laid down all the huge burdens she carried and let Jesus take over.
      Thank you for another insightful and challenging post today April. I praise God for the day I discovered this blog, and how much God has shown me through it.

      1. Sunshine,

        I’m so thankful to God that He has used this to bless you. May He richly bless your walk with Christ!!! And may He take you much deeper in your faith, and in love. ๐Ÿ™‚

      2. Thanks, Sunshine and April! I came off as really wordy but it was neat to see a bit more of a bigger picture as I wrote, which inspired me to actually hit the “send” button, hoping my story would resonate with someone else. Or at least get me a bit of unasked for prayer!! ๐Ÿ˜€ I continue to need prayers but it’s tough to keep asking for them.

        That feeling of handing off the burden to God and KNOWING He’s taken it is a little astonishing, isn’t it? It certainly is a light yoke, if you’re wearing it right. I’m still bogged down so much by negativity and bitterness, but the day I realized I could ask God to take over my uncontrollable anger AND HE DID, was probably the day I realized ours is a living, dynamic, powerful and real God, not just a wishful projection of a god spot in my brain.

        1. peregrine042,

          Oh wow! What an incredible story you have! I would love to hear more about how you gave your uncontrollable anger to God and what He has been doing in your life. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Hi. Here is a verse on this subject that’s also stood out to me:

    John 9:31 Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him.

    And here are some other related verses my Bible gives:

    Psalm 34:15 The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their cry.
    Psalm 34:16 The face of the LORD is against those who do evil, To cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.
    Psalm 34:17 The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears, And delivers them out of all their troubles.
    Psalm 34:18 The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit.

    Proverbs 15:29 The LORD is far from the wicked, But He hears the prayer of the righteous.

    Isaiah 1:15 When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood.

    “If, then…”

    Isaiah 58:9 Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’ “If you take away the yoke from your midst, The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,

    Micah 3:4 Then they will cry to the LORD, But He will not hear them; He will even hide His face from them at that time, Because they have been evil in their deeds.

    Zechariah 7:13 Therefore it happened, that just as He proclaimed and they would not hear, so they called out and I would not listen,” says the LORD of hosts.

    Lots of strong words. Really makes me think I need to continue searching my own heart and life more, in repentance. Thank you for this post.

  7. Ladies,

    Thank you all for answering my question comprehensively and for taking the time to post so many relevant Biblical references. I will read and study all of them.

    Blessings to all.

    1. Maine,

      You are most welcome. ๐Ÿ™‚ I know this concept sounds strange to many of us. In our Christian culture, we have absorbed a lot of the world’s ideas of “tolerance” and “inclusion.” But – when we really read what the Bible says – sometimes the message can be different from what we expected it to be. God does have a message of great hope and all people CAN be included in that hope. But we must approach God His way – not our own way. There was one door into the temple court and into the temple itself. There is one door to God even now – and that is through Christ. But we must come to Him via repentance, humility, and a desire for Him to be in control – not ourselves.

      May God light your path with His wisdom. ๐Ÿ™‚ May He draw you closer to Himself than ever!!

      May He direct all of us for His glory!!

  8. “God doesnโ€™t make us change. He is a gentleman and doesnโ€™t force Himself on us. He allows us to choose sin and misery if we want it. Or we can have Him, real spiritual Life, the power of His Spirit, and victory over sin.”

    Oh amen to this! He is a gentleman indeed. I too would often pray, asking for what I wanted, but not listening to the answer, not listening to the instructions. Prayer is a two way form of communication and if one can humble themselves enough, that still quiet voice will speak to you and lead you in the right direction.

    I would pray for my husband to change and that Still Quiet Voice would say, “your husband is not the problem.” So then I’d say, well shoot, I must have just prayed wrong, because that answer makes no sense at all. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. insanitybytes22,

      Oh wow! So you actually heard the answer, “Your husband is not the problem,” but still didn’t get it. That is so interesting! I am not sure that I was ever quiet enough to hear the Still Small Voice. I was so busy demanding and telling God what He better do. ๐Ÿ™

      How I pray we will hear and listen to God’s voice with great clarity and sensitivity!!

      1. I really did hear the words, “your husband is not the problem,” but what I didn’t understand was how empowering accepting that was going to be. God was genuinely trying to relieve my suffering, but it took me a while to cooperate and let Him. Today the things that used to drive me crazy about hubby are actually kind of precious, charming even. I wasted a lot of time trying to control and change him rather than just enjoying him, and I made both of us miserable in the process.

        For a long time I had the impression that submission was about losing power, but actually it’s been very empowering, the complete opposite of what I expected. There is strength in weakness, freedom in surrender, that I never understood, that I resisted.

        1. insanitybytes22,

          This is so beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing. That has certainly been my experience, as well. ๐Ÿ™‚ God’s ways are good.

  9. Thank you! I have been reading your blog for a couple of years and am definitely familiar with your posts regarding these issues. Sometimes it feels almost impossible to apply but I know I need to be praying for Gods strength and not trying to do it in my own. I really appreciate your advice and prayers.

    1. Pleasepray,

      Yes – we ALL need to do this stuff in God’s strength. If I look away from Him for a few minutes and try to do things in my own strength and wisdom, I will crash and burn – and it will be ugly!!!

      Much love to you!

  10. Thank you, April. You are such an encouragement to me, dear sister. The article you sent was excellent and helped me so much. Especially the part about the ICU bed. Perspective is so important and the truth is, I DO have hope…I always have hope, because I have hope in Christ. I appreciate your prayers more than you know. XXOO

    1. Hummingbird,

      I’m so thankful that post was a blessing. And I am SO thankful that you have hope in Christ!!! That makes me smile. Because I know that when a wife knows that truth, that God is about to do some amazing things in her life. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Much love to you!!!!

  11. I know your request is now a few days old and you may have a house (!), but it struck me because I’m currently house-hunting, as well, and trust in both the Lord and my husband has been a big issue for me. I can at least empathize and will gladly offer a prayer – although I’m not a “prayer warrior” – that you seek and find God’s guidance in this and all situations, as well as the ability to willingly submit to both God and your husband. I’m so amazed at how the prayers of others on my behalf have been effective, so I hope and believe you’ll have similar results, although the answers may come in surprising ways.

    1. Thank you so much for your prayers! It really means a lot to know that someone understands and empathizes with my struggles since it sometimes feels like I’m the only one who deals with this. We actually are still on the search for a house so I can definitely continue to use your prayers. I hope you are having success with house hunting. Good luck to you too!!

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