When You Pray But the Miracle Doesn’t Happen

Some lean over gravestones and say:  The miracle didn’t happen.

And others lean over gravestones and say they got their miracle because she was a miracle, and getting to love her was a wonder, and every moment together was a miracle of grace and there is no other was to explain the extraordinary that she was.

My sister was killed, run over, in front of my mama and I, and I watched my wild Mama sob-rock her baby girl’s bleeding body in her own begging arms, and I have paced-prayed for rain while our livelihood, the crops we’ve planted, shriveled up and died out there in parched fields, and I’ve cried till I’m hoarse, howling for God to save marriages that burnt to the ground, leaving us sting choking for years on ashes and all the flying embers.

We mustered faith and fasted for days and prayed through healing services, anointing the limp-sick with oil, only to end up burying our two baby nephews within 18 months, and grieving sharp for years.

Why in the blazes do some miracles happen and others don’t?

Joy Prouty

Joy Prouty

You can count on it like the spin of late summer stars and early September fog sifting in slow down by the woods:

Miracles aren’t a measure of anyone’s good standing, but miracles are a mystery that defy understanding.

By definition, miracles are mysteries: the way a miracle happens is a mystery — and if a miracle happens it’s a mystery.

Miracles are never a function of anyones’s goodness, worthiness, or earnestness — and miracles are always the mysteriousness of His ways.

The truth of it is, we breathe in a world of mystery: No two sunsets have ever painted the sky the same. And of all the snowflakes that have ever fallen to the earth since the beginning of time, 10 followed by 34 zeros, no two have ever even once been identical. And every one of our stories are infinitely unique, and singular miracles that bear a glory all of their own.

We breathe mystery. We inhale an otherworldly grace. The human experience isn’t explainable.

The human experience is nothing short of a holy experience.

And the human experience can be hard but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a holy experience.

Six times a day, every single day, our youngest boy injects himself with a needle to stay alive. His pancreas is dead and 24/7 we have to be that organ, or he ends up dead. Our daughter with Graves Disease, who had to have her thyroid radiated, and daily takes meds to be her thyroid, she comes to me quiet this week and asks what we will do if her little sister with a congenital heart defect, three open heart surgeries behind her, and, Lord willing, a heart transplant ahead of her, doesn’t live a long life. And I nod. Three times a day alarms go off here for us to take her littlest sister’s heart rate, for us to give her a beta blocker to slow down her cardiac arrythmia.

Sometimes the miracle isn’t wholly healed bodies, but that we get to wholeheartedly love each other.

Those who long to see miracles,
see everyday miracles everywhere.

And yes, we pray for healing, and we know that by His stripes we are already healed in eternal ways. We pray for restoration, and we know that by His mercy we know complete restoration and no condemnation. And we pray for more time, and we know that by His grace, we have been given time that goes beyond all time.

The miracle that always happens in prayer happens in the most important place: the heart.

Prayer isn’t so much about outcomes, but about is coming much closer to God.

Joy Prouty

I’ve held babies in my arms who looked long into my eyes and died and I can only choke out the wandering ways of my own busted heart:

There is no prayer more passionate than that of a mother begging God for a miracle for her child — and there is no greater passion than a Father who gave His Son as the miracle that answers every prayer.

Live like God is a genie in a bottle, and we become like angry drunks.

Live like God is king on a throne, and we become intoxicated with awe.

The King is working good out of everything, so nothing is wrong — trust His sovereign ways. His ways are good, not because His ways are my ways, but because His ways are gloriously higher than mine.

When we surrender to the mystery of His ways rising higher than our ways, our hope rises. The miracle is already here: God is near.

I don’t have to understand, as long as I know God stands close.

He is the mystery that dances slow with my question marks, the aching arms that carry the shards of my dreams, the hands that lift my chin and presses His broken heart close enough to catch every one of my tears so my suffering becomes the heartbeat of His sacrifice.

And on the days when I’m raw with begging God, I turn and look into His face tender with grace and read the embrace of His heart:

Miracles happen everyday
To everyone
Maybe just not every one, or the one, you dreamed of.
But stay awake to all the ones that did.

When the miracle doesn’t come like hoped,
God still comes like He always planned.

When things don’t make sense,
God still makes a way.

To keep breathing
To keep believing
To keep  being brave.

When we feel discouraged —
God loans courage
that stared down the pit of hell
and crushed beady-eyed evil with his unwavering heel.

All is more than well — all is grace.

When our tears burn and we taste the wet saltiness of grief,
We taste God
who weeps kind with us at tombs
Even when He knows the rising is coming.

All is more than well — all is grace.

We may not always get our miracle,
But we always get God
And that is the miracle that is more than enough.

On the days that I wrestle hard with the questions, I sit long with honest songs, the tightened guitar strings echoing the ache of my prayers— and there are rests where I rest in the knowing: 

Living in the tension of mystery and miracle ties a broken heart to God.


Need someone to throw you a lifeline of grace? 

This one’s for you.

Need some courage to begin again? 

This one’s for you. 

Need the paradoxical, transforming secret to the abundant life? 

I’m telling you: This one’s for you. 

Pick up a copy of The Broken Way and begin to experience the abundant life like you’ve always hoped.