November 19

Did You Know Garth Brooks’ “Unanswered Prayers” Was Based On A True Story?

Three decades ago, Garth Brooks soared to the top of the charts with his hit “Unanswered Prayers.” 

The song was released as a second single from his multi-platinum-selling album No Fences. It turned out to be one of Brooks’ most popular recordings, helping his No Fences album stay on the charts for more than seven months.

The Song Was Based On A True Story

Written by Garth Brooks with Pat Alger and Larry Bastian, “Unanswered Prayers” tells the tale of a man who ran into what was once the girl of his dreams many years later. As he introduced her to his wife, he reminisced about his past relationship and how he had once prayed so fervently for this girl to be with him forever. 

However, as he and his old flame talked about the old days, the man in the song realized that she wasn’t quite the angel that he remembered in his dreams. When he looked into his wife, he grasped how the “Lord knows what he’s doin’ after all.”

 “Sometimes, I thank God for unanswered prayers. Remember when you’re talkin’ to the man upstairs, that just because he doesn’t answer doesn’t mean he don’t care. Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered,” the song goes.

Indeed, this is such a beautiful song with a powerful message. And the best part is that this is a true-life story of an incident which the country superstar had experienced with his then-wife, Sandy Mahl.

“‘Unanswered Prayers’ was a big part of my heart that went out on that record,” Brooks explained. “In October of ’89, I saw my old high school flame. And I can say this now — at the time; I couldn’t. For the first two years of my married life, I really thought the girl that was for me was still that girl that was in high school.”

“And now, man, just the realization that what you have is the best for you and the best you could ever do in your lifetime,” he added. “It sure makes you sleep well at night.”

The only part of the song that is not true is the location. Brooks explained to The Boot: “That’s what happened to me, word for word, except it wasn’t at a hometown football game, it was at a Kraft’s fair bazaar that was a fundraiser for rehabilitated 18-year-old boys that had been out of prison but back to get their GED, and that’s what this little ranch was. It was hard to make that fit in the song.”

In the CD booklet liner notes, Brook also said that “Unanswered Prayers” is perhaps the most genuine song he has ever been involved with as a writer.

“Every time I sing this song, it teaches me the same lesson… happiness isn’t getting what you want, it is wanting what you’ve got,” the singer wrote.

Here’s Garth Brook’s “Unanswered Prayers” lyric video.


Garth Brooks

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