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Garth Brooks’ Song ‘Unanswered Prayers’ Was Inspired by a Real Life Love Story

The Story Behind Garth Brooks’ “Unanswered Prayers”
Photo: traditionalcountrymusic/Instagram

Garth Brooks struck gold with his hit song, “Unanswered Prayers,” a heartfelt ballad that draws from his own romantic journey. This track not only topped the charts on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs in 1991 but also played a pivotal role in the success of his 1990 album, No Fences, holding its reign for an impressive 30 weeks. For Brooks, “Unanswered Prayers” isn’t just another song; it’s a personal favorite, woven with the threads of his own life story.

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The Story Behind Garth Brooks’ “Unanswered Prayers”

In 1989, Garth Brooks returned to his Oklahoma roots with his first wife, Sandy. A twist of fate occurred at a football game when he crossed paths with his high school sweetheart. In that moment, he realized she was the girl he had yearned and prayed for during his high school days. However, those prayers going unanswered led him to find someone even more compatible.

Reflecting on the inspiration behind the song, Brooks shared that “Unanswered Prayers” is a real-life story involving him and Sandy. In October ’89, he encountered his old flame, sparking a realization that for the first two years of his marriage, he believed his high school sweetheart was the one meant for him. Now, he recognizes that what he has is the best for him, bringing peace to his nights.


In the liner notes of his 1994 collection, “The Hits,” Brooks delved into the song’s creation, highlighting its deeply personal nature. Collaborating with co-writers Pat Alger and Larry Bastian, the process eventually clicked when Bastian suggested the title “Unanswered Prayers,” emphasizing the idea that some of life’s greatest gifts are the prayers left unanswered.

Alger, reflecting on the song, expressed a shared experience with Brooks, noting that sometimes being thankful for prayers unanswered is a universal sentiment. The song’s message, rooted in a Protestant concept, encourages applying the lesson to one’s future.

The song’s live debut took place on the same day it was written, at the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, with Brooks inviting Alger to join him on stage. The narrative of “Unanswered Prayers” also inspired a two-hour Lifetime TV movie in 2010, exploring the complexities of choices when faced with past and present loves.

As the second single from Brooks’ breakthrough album, “No Fences,” “Unanswered Prayers” soared to #1 on the Country charts, alongside other chart-toppers like “Friends In Low Places,” “Two of A Kind,” “Workin’ On A Full House,” and “The Thunder Rolls.” With over 18 million sales in the US, “No Fences” remains Brooks’ best-selling album.

Take a listen to Garth Brooks’ “Unanswered Prayers” below!

READ ALSO: Kaynette Williams: What Happened to Blake Shelton’s First Wife

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