We asked, but we did not receive. What could we have done wrong?


Mark 11:24
"So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours."

I, and several others, have been praying for a miracle for a woman who was dying of a rare form of liver cancer. I even had a friend take her some Lourdes water that I had. She was sprinkled with the water, and many people prayed for her. However, today, I got the news that she has died. This feels like a huge blow. I, and several others asked, but we did not receive. What did we do wrong, if anything? If not, could someone please explain what Jesus meant?


There is a presupposition, I believe, that the prayer must be in accord with God’s will. For instance, if we pray for someone to come back to life before the second coming and really believe it, there’s a good chance that ain’t gonna happen. Nevertheless our prayers do have effect. There is some theology that speculates on God’s permissive will vs. His ordained will. Information is a little scarce, but it might shed light on certain things. It also leads us to be sure to either say specifically, or keep in our hearts of all our prayers: “but Your will be done.” You are not praying the “wrong” way.

If you have an MP3 player, I would recommend listening to Al Kresta interview Sister Ann Shields on this subject back in November 2007 (she is the second guest in this hour–MP3 here). She goes into some of the times when we feel we did something “wrong” when we prayed.


Sometimes we don’t get a “yes” answer to our prayer, and the “why” sometimes has to wait until we get to Heaven. I know that’s not real comforting right now, and some things are so painful that no words can really help. When I was going through one of those experiences in my life, a friend gave me a greeting card with a poem on it. It’s entitled “Why?”, written by the late Jack Hyles, a pastor.
Here it is, and hopefully it gives you comfort, too:

I have sat beside a tiny crib,
And watched a baby die,
As parents slowly turned to me
To ask, “oh, Pastor, why?”

I’ve held the youthful husband’s head
And felt death’s sting as sigh.
A widow looks through tears and says
"Dear pastor, tell me why."

I’ve seen a gold star mother weep
And hold a picture nigh
Her lonely breast and softly whisper
"Why, Pastor, why?"

I’ve walked away from babyland
Where stillborn babies lie,
A mother stretches empty arms
And asks me, “Pastor, why?”

I’ve watched my drunken father leave
Our home and say "Goodbye"
While looking into Mother’s face
I asked, “Please tell me why?”

I’ve heard a white-tipped tapping cane
Which leads a blinded eye,
And then a darkened, lonely voice
Cries, “Pastor, show me why.”

I’ve caught a fiance’s burning tears
And heard her lonely cry;
She held an unused wedding gown
And shouted, “Oh, Pastor, why?”

I’ve heard a cancer patient say
"Tis gain for me to die,"
Then look into his daughter’s face,
And mutely whisper, “Why?”

I’ve seen my mother stand beside
Two tiny graves and cry,
And though she never let me know,
I knew she wondered why.

I’ve heard an orphan say
Who gazed into the sky,
“Though Mom and Dad have gone away,
My pastor will know why.”

I tiptoed to my Father’s throne
So timid and so shy,
To say, “Dear God, some of your own
Are wanting to know why.”

I heard Him say to tenderly,
"Their tears I’ll gladly dry;
Though they must look through faith today,
Tomorrow they’ll know why.

If today they know the reasons,
That their hopes have gone awry,
In Heaven they will miss the joy
Of hearing me tell why."

And so I’ve found it pleases Him
When I can testify,
“I’ll trust my Lord to do what’s best
And wait to find out ‘why’.”


You didnt do anything wrong. Just remember the Lords Prayer “Thy will be done” It is GODs will that he called up that woman. He knows what hes doing. Her job here on earth was done…you may ask what it was, and all you have to do is sit and think. They say hind sight is 20/20. We are GODs children, and like us as parents our children will ask and ask for certain things, but we still say no. It works the same way.


Maybe it just was no in his will and something great will come out of this sad situation. Pray for her soul, and that you and all those who loved her will find peace.


This happened to me too. :frowning: :confused:
I read the story of a saint though who appeared to a boy in his dreams. He said “here are my legs, I don’t need him anymore.” That same day the saint died and the boy’s legs were healed.

God uses everything for his glory. His ways are not our ways. His paths are not our paths. He is incomprehenisble in his fullest and infinite extent to our finite minds. Be assured that Christ has used the death of this woman for the good of the world.


This is a good question to take directly to God in prayer. I believe he will give you peace.

In our parish in the last couple of years, we have had three parents die of cancer. In each case, the cancer patient had young kids. In fact, in one case, the mom was pregnant with baby #6 when she found out she had breast cancer.

It was very hard to accept their deaths esp after the earnest prayers offered. One thing that helps me is to know that death is not the worse thing that can happen. In fact, for those who are saved, it is the most wonderful event of their lives.

It’s hard on the rest of us though.


you asked, and you did receive
you presumably prayed for her healing,
God did heal her but only he knew for sure what it was that required healing
for her, the need was for whatever spiritual healing he granted her during her process of illness and dying, and the ultimate gift of ending her suffering by calling her home. He will continue to heal anything that requires healing after her death and eventually bring her to him in heaven.

if you were praying with full sincerity your underlying purpose in your prayer was for she and yourselves to become aligned with God’s will for her, and you keep praying, recognizing that what transpired is his will for her, for the best good of her soul.


About two years ago, my birth mother had a successful small surgery and was getting well. All of a sudden, while still in the hospital, her condition deteriorated. All four of her daughters plus many others were praying and believing for her recovery. However, she passed away. It was a sudden blow.

But we all trusted God has heard our prayers and God knew what He was doing. “Ask, and you will receive” is always based on God’s will. If what we ask is God’s will, we will receive as we prayed for. If not, we will receive an answer of “no”. If it is time for a person to go home, no matter how earnestly we prayed, no matter how many prayed in agreement, God’s will is still be done.

Trust means believing God hears our prayers and God knows what He is doing. Trust means let God be God and know He is in control.


Another way to look at it is that God precisely answered the prayers. Her affliction is gone, and now she is more alive than we are. This is very, very difficult for us to grasp and causes us much sorrow. But to God this creation is but a blink. Ask Him now for mercy in your suffering, and for merciful understanding.


We have to read the Scripture in the context of the chapter, of which it is written.

The chapter is about salvation, which was about to be given to the world, as Jesus was entering Jerusalem to complete his mission.

The fig tree for Jews at that time, was seen as a symbolic representation of the Jews. When Jesus came upon the tree and saw that it bore no fruit, he commanded it to die and it did. The symbolism here is that because Israel bore no fruit, it too would wither and die. Peter understood the symbolism, and was concerned, but Jesus told Peter, to have “faith in God.”

He tells him that all he asks for in prayer, will be given.

This has to do with building the Church, in the mission of bringing the gospel to the world. Peter and the Apostles, would come to understand this after Pentecost.

In this context, Jesus words have nothing to do with praying for our own desires and having them come to be. Rather, it is about salvation being given to the world, and how the Church, must bare fruit in bringing the gospel message to the world.



But your friend IS healed!

In the next world, there is NO cancer.

(BTW–These are the words I said when my own mother died of a very disfiguring cancer that left one side of her face a gaping hole.)


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