At the Desiring God Conference “The Powerful Life of the Praying Pastor: In His Room, With His Family, Among the People of God” there was a panel discussion involving Jerry Rankin, Francis Chan, Joel Beeke, John Piper, and Paul Miller. Concerning this question:
A lack of specific answers to specific prayers seems to be lacking for many pastors. So what do you say to the pastor who is convicted about prayerlessness and unbelief in regards to prayer?
Joel Beeke answered:
Go home after this conference and think back over your life. Make a list of all the prayers you can think of where they have been answered. You may be surprised to see how many really have been answered.
I thank God for unanswered prayer. I learn more about God and myself through unanswered prayer, through the hard times. In the first three and a half years of my ministry I saw no conversions. And I look back, that was the best thing for me; if there would have been a lot of conversions, I would have become so boastful.
If God is real, continue to preach the gospel until you’ve witnessed every sinner in the world confessing Christ as Lord. Don’t put a time table or number on conversions as some sort of “calling evaluation.” Instead, preach the gospel regardless the response. Base your ministry on faithfulness to God’s Word, not on some western revivalistic quota. Lay your ego to the side and preach until all nations bring Him glory through faith alone in Christ alone! Onward Christian soldiers!