How to Handle Unrealistic Expectations in Your Prayer Life

Do you feel frustrated or disillusioned in your prayer life? These very real experiences can sometimes be traced back to unrealistic expectations. Join us today as we look at three very common prayer life expectations through the lens of some truths from God’s Word.

Great things happen when we pray. It’s our open door to knowing God better and being in a close relationship with Him.

But what about those times when prayer doesn’t seem to be working? Maybe you feel frustrated in your prayer life. You might wonder if God is listening. Maybe you’ve asked yourself if prayer is really worth all the effort. Perhaps you feel disappointed because God does not seem to be answering.

These are very real experiences. I think I could safely say that nearly all of us have these kinds of struggles in some form or fashion in our prayer lives. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, but it is very important to evaluate why you might be feeling these things.

If you are struggling in prayer, one thing that might be helpful to look at is your expectations. Here’s a list of some expectations I found in my prayer life. Perhaps you’ve run across them, too.

• God will give me a clear answer to my prayer right now.
• Prayer is going to solve my problem and make my life easier.
• If I am faithful in prayer, God is going to work on my terms.

Seeing these expectations in a written list makes it seem as if these things are easy to spot. But believe me, they can remain well hidden behind our emotions and our limited perspectives.  (We have an enemy that wants it that way, right?)

If we harbor these unrealistic things in our prayer lives, we might become disillusioned about prayer or even about God. So let’s take these unrealistic expectations and turn them into something more realistic with truths from God’s Word.


The Unrealistic Expectation: God will give me a clear answer to my prayer, right now.

God hears and answers our prayers. (See 1 John 5:14-15, Jeremiah 29:12-14, and 2 Chronicles 7:14.) The thing is, we don’t get to determine how or when God answers those prayers. The way is often unclear as we wait for God to work in our circumstance.

A Biblical Truth:

Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him. (Isaiah 30:18)

Can you see the beautiful picture reflected in this verse?

While we are waiting, the Lord is too. He is doing this because it is His great desire is to have compassion on us and give us grace. In this way, He will be exalted.Our waiting is our

He is working even when we are exhausted, desperate, and at the lowest points in life. The unclear pathway before us is God working for our good. Our waiting is our worship.

The Realistic Expectation: God will answer my prayers, but the answer and the path ahead may seem unclear while I wait on Him. While I am waiting, He is too. In the waiting He is exalted. My waiting is my worship.

Our waiting is our worship.Click To Tweet


The Unrealistic Expectation: Prayer is going to solve my problems and make my life easier.

A Biblical Truth:

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles.(Psalm 34:17, NKJV)

This life is full of adversity, and God never said it wouldn’t be. But He promises to walk with us and He promises to deliver us. We often think of deliverance as a change in our difficult circumstances. But deliverance can come in other ways, one being through prayer.

Prayer helps us know God. Knowing God’s character restores our faith in what He is capable of doing and assures us of His deep love. Our difficult circumstances may not change, but neither does God. He is always the same. We can rely on Him.

The Realistic Expectation: My circumstances may not change, but through prayer, I can find deliverance. I can rely on God’s character, and I can know that He walks with me.

Our difficult circumstances may not change, but neither does God. He is always the same. We can rely on Him.Click To Tweet


The Unrealistic Expectation: If I am faithful in prayer, God is going to work on my own terms.

A Biblical Truth:

For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9, NASB)

This one was tough to dig out of my own life. It took me a long time to realize I was expecting God to work on my own terms. This kind of unrealistic thinking was written all over my prayer life for a long time and caused me a lot of disappointment and frustration.

We have to realize that we are utterly incapable of understanding life in the same way as God. We live in the here and now. We have no ability to see things like God does. He sees the big picture and we don’t. Wether we realize it or not, we are not in control. We don’t get to decide how life should work. But His ways are far superior to ours, and He is always working for our good.

The Realistic Expectation: If I am faithful in prayer, I can find the strength to let God be in control. As far as the heavens are above the earth, His ways are higher than mine. 

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways. Isaiah 55:9Click To Tweet


It’s very easy to have unrealistic expectations, even in our prayer lives. It’s good from time to time to ask ourselves some hard questions to see if our expectations are unrealistic.

If you need some help with this, you might like to refer back to these two posts.

How to Handle Unrealistic Expectations Part 1 – Identifying Unrealistic Expectations

•  How to Handle Unrealistic Expectations Part 2 – Letting Go

I’m also giving away a free worksheet to help you identify unrealistic expectations. You can find it HERE. And don’t forget, the Resource Library is FULL of resources for helping you have a more intentional prayer life. You can subscribe HERE or in the subscription box directly after this post.

Until next week,




Focus Verses
The verses in this article are linked to their appropriate pages at Bible Hub where you will find many free resources for further study!

Let’s Talk
What kind of unrealistic expectations have you found in your own prayer life? How did you deal with them? Your answer will encourage others! Please feel free to leave a comment below!

Let’s Pray
Dear Heavenly Father, we come before you now with our unrealistic expectations. We lay them at your feet and ask you to take them. Fill our minds with the truth about your character and the love You have for us. Forgive us when we want to take control. Help us to surrender our own ideas about how things should be and surrender control to You instead. In Jesus name, Amen.

Next Week
Next week we’ll look at what we can expect from God! I”ll have several free printables for you. Hope to see you then!

This post is linked in other encouraging places. Click HERE to find out where.

The post How to Handle Unrealistic Expectations in Your Prayer Life first appeared at


Follow for Access to the Prayer Library!

Subscribe here to receive access to our Prayer Library!

Inside you will find helpful printables for your prayer notebook, infographics that make great bookmarks, Scripture card sets, and more. Everything inside is geared to help you with your prayer life! You will also receive updates in your inbox when our articles are posted!

Your email is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit
Do you feel frustrated or disillusioned in your prayer life? These very real experiences can sometimes be traced back to unrealistic expectations. Join us today as we look at three very common prayer life expectations through the lens of some truths from God’s Word.

30 thoughts on “How to Handle Unrealistic Expectations in Your Prayer Life

  1. Such an honest, yet encouraging way of handling the discussion of unrealistic expectations in our prayer life. It’s a complicated area and you handled it beautifully! Thank you for always sharing such precious hope, my friend!
    Blessings and smiles,

  2. it’s hard sometimes when we have unrealistic expectations. We get discouraged before we can even tell what’s going on. Some people make up their minds to have no expectations at all, but that doesn’t work. Better to just pray knowing that God is sovereign and his way is best.

  3. I too have fallen prey to thinking God should answer things my way. Over time I have always learned his way is always better. I have had to learn to trust him even when I can’t see the way. As I look back, I can almost always understand why he answered or delayed the answer. I find my heart changes when I pray and it becomes less of what I want and just more of him.

  4. Dearest Leslie,
    I have fallen victim to these very unrealistic expectations and that somehow, if I’m His child, I’m exempt from hardship. If I pray hard enough and long enough, then I can escape difficult situations. That couldn’t be furthest from the truth and I’m so glad you wrote this post. I believe we can all relate to these unrealistic expectations in prayer. I’ve chosen you for this week’s feature on my blog for Salt & Light Linkup! Thank you for sharing!

    1. Hi Natalie! I really appreciate your kind words and what you share here about prayer and expectations. So true. It’s not easy dealing with hardships and it’s even harder sometimes to keep things in the right perspective. I’m so glad we have His Word to guide us. I’m excited about being featured! That’s a real blessing and encouragement to me! Thank you for visiting today!

  5. This is a great post, Leslie! How often do we have these unrealistic expectations about prayer and God’s answers to prayer — and then we get discouraged when prayer doesn’t work the way we expected it to… So much wisdom here! Thanks for sharing this.

    1. Thanks, Helene, for visiting today. It’s so good for us to examine things in our prayer life. I don’t do enough of that. I cried the other day in my prayer time, too – just really wrestling around with the unexpected and trying to understand my own unrealistic thinking! But we know we have a God who walks with us and we can expect Him to be who He says He is! PTL!

  6. Yeah, I want things done on my terms and in my time frame. Typing that out seems a little demeaning to an all knowing God (or a lot.) thanks for the perspective!

    1. Sarah, I definitely am right there with you. I cried through a long prayer just this morning and what it all boiled down to was wanting things to happen in my own time frame. It’s a daily battle for sure. Thank you for stopping by!

  7. Thanks for taking the time to share these unrealistic expectations with us, Leslie! I’ve certainly had plenty of unrealistic expectations in my prayer life, but I do know that God will be with me, whatever happens, if I keep seeking him 🙂

    1. Thanks, Colleen, for stopping by! And me too on unrealistic expectations. I delt with them this week as a matter of fact and had to do some serious praying this morning to get past it. I love that God walks with us (even when we are on opposite sides of the world)! It’s great to see you here, my friend! Blessings!

    1. Miriam, yes, this is such a great verse for us to keep in mind in all things, especially the things we do not understand. Thank you for visiting today!

    1. Anita, oh I totally understand the control issue. I’m a planner, too and boy can that get in the way if I don’t keep it in the proper perspective! It’s a struggle for me, too! Thank you for stopping by today!

  8. Leslie, Thank you for sharing this thorough look at how to handle an unrealistic prayer life using Scripture to encourage us to trust in God’s faithfulness even when the answers to occur like we had hoped.

    I have had many prayers answered in the complete opposite way I was hoping. In fact, in the exact way I didn’t want it to be answered. Yet the Lord blessed me with hindsight to see that what I thought were no’s, He was working out for His Glory above and beyond what I had hoped or imagined bringing me ultimate joy in the “no” because it was leading to the greatest “yes”.

    1. Karen, I love what you’ve said, especially that last sentence – …..bringing me the unlimited joy in the “no” because it was leading to the greatest “yes.” Oh that is such a statement of hope for others! Thank you for sharing this with us today!

  9. Ooh! So much wisdom here, Leslie! I do hope you’ll share a link to this in my linkup, girlfriend! I’ve been there and done all of these things–the bad mostly, but now am learning to do the good. But, as you’ve pointed out, it’s so easy to let those unrealistic and unbiblical desires and motivations creep in when we think we are being totally realistic and good in our intentions. I’m sure I have those problematic requests still tucked inside my prayers even now and don’t fully recognize them. This reminds me to always let the Lord open my eyes to every word that proceeds out of my mouth in conversation–including in conversations with the Lord!

    1. Hi Beth, I’m absolutely positive I still have unrealistic expectations, too. Everything is a daily battle. I love your last statement! So true! Thank you for stopping by and for the kind words! Blessings!

  10. This is excellent and jam-packed with great info, Leslie. I can’t wait to host you again on my blog on August 30 for a prayer post. Can’t remember which topic you want to write on…I’ll message you, friend!

  11. What a terrific study!! You are such a good teacher, making everything clear. I especially love this comment: “Our waiting is our worship.” God uses every circumstance, doesn’t he?!

    Thanks Leslie!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *