Why Allah doesn’t answer every prayer

The kindness of Allah does not annul His wisdom; it is for this reason that not all supplications are answered.”
-Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (ع), Ghurar al-Hikam

Who has better foresight, the Creator or the created? Who can see what is upcoming on a path, the one who walks it or the one above it? The future that we so precisely plan, down to the place and time, can be changed in a blink of an eye. The specific prayers we have been asking God to grant us – things we are sure we want – could ultimately lead to something terrible for us. We don’t even know if what we ask for is harmful or not, we just see it as an obvious solution to our current problems. Humans tend to think they know exactly what is best for themselves when in reality, they don’t even know their own self. Only God knows what’s inside our hearts and what is right or wrong for us. We just have to put more faith in Him and remain patient.

Admittedly, when times are tough and the world seems to close in around you, the feeling of hopeless anguish becomes overwhelming and you turn to the Provider in desperation and anger, wondering why nothing is being done, why your prayers aren’t being answered when you pray for them so earnestly. Isn’t God the one who only needs to say “Be” for something to become? Why doesn’t He acknowledge your wishes and send down miracles in the shape you’ve envisioned? No matter how hard you supplicate, your prayers just don’t seem to get answered, and you have no idea why. Doubts start to form, and satan adds more fuel to the fire to make things worse. You wonder if you’re praying right, or worse, if you’ve done something to block the prayers from reaching heaven. You wonder if He’s angry at you, or keeping His favors from you as a punishment. You wonder if you’re not religious enough to have your prayers answered. You wonder if you should even bother praying at all.

Remember this: God is the best of planners.

And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me – indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided.”
– Surat Al-Baqarah

Undoubtedly, He is the Most Kind and the Most Wise, we just shouldn’t confuse one for the other. He hears our prayers and answers them, but the answer isn’t always “yes.” The things we ask for sometimes could lead to someplace far worse than we are now, so trust that the All Merciful knows what’s best for you.

Imam Ali’s (ع) quote about Allah’s kindness not annulling His wisdom is a great reminder that God, though infinitely Kind and Generous, cannot be blinded by compassion like a parent to their child. We’ve all seen how mothers relent after their babies cry for something they want that is obviously harmful to them, and give their children what they ask for despite their better knowledge. That’s because we as humans don’t have the patience or the wisdom to let others find their path on their own, to let them wait for something that is better. We lack the wisdom to understand that compassion isn’t about giving someone whatever they want whenever they want it. There are better things written for us, we just have to trust in The Best of Planners.