I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! – Psalm 27:13-14 (NRSV)
I do believe that God answers prayer. I know and acknowledge most of the reasons we recount when trying to explain why it seems like a prayer isn’t being answered. In the end of those reasons we are left with empty hands trying to make sense of one reality.
I’m praying. And waiting.
I really hate to wait. On anything. I don’t think impatience is one of the characteristics of my enneagram number (which has me wondering if I’m another number, but I doubt it. What is the enneagram?). But that doesn’t stop me from a growing sense of irritation when I have to wait. Apparently, this does not impress God.
In our church (and maybe yours) we are in the habit of going over our prayer list weekly. Parts of our list are pretty fluid… names come and go as situations are resolved. But some names are there and apparently carved into stone. We have prayed and prayed and prayed for these dear ones.
Does it bother you when items on your prayer list never budge? Some may think the answer is just to quit praying. Not me. It’s not easy to wait, but I believe that is our calling.
Wait for the Lord.
We are waiting for God to answer – as He has always done. The children of Israel were in Egypt for 400 years. The generation that was delivered from the hands of Pharaoh were great grandchildren of the ones who first began to pray for a deliverer. It’s not that God was too busy to answer that request. He answered in a bold and miraculous way. When it was time. Some of our prayers may not be answered in our lifetime.
It takes a lot of strength to grow in our prayer life while waiting. Strength implies that we are not going to give up. Strength requires muscles to be exercised in order to remain strong. We exercise our prayer muscles on our knees in the prayer closet continuing to develop a relationship with our listening Father. We’ll never be strong if we are weak in our prayers.
Let your heart take courage.
Courage does not give in to the fear that maybe God isn’t listening …. or just doesn’t care… or is too weak to do anything about it. No, courage continues on the spiritual paths of prayer discovery. Courage is unafraid of being confident in God’s eternal faithfulness and presence. I want to remind you to be ‘en-couraged’ because our confidence is not in our beautiful prayers or even consistent practices … but in an all-powerful all-present Abba who cares.
Wait for the Lord.
In spite of your strength and courage, you’ll still have to wait. You will be joining generations of praying Christians who have learned to wait. And while waiting they have developed the awareness of God’s nearness.
I have a feeling that if we could see the world the way God does, we wouldn’t be tapping our foot in impatient waiting right now. We would be amazed at the intricate ways that Father has set in motion a thousand ripples across the Kingdom when a child whispers a prayer. Waiting humbles us. So don’t turn away from prayer when you’ve been waiting so long. Even more important than the answer you seek, is a growing relationship with the Father who loves.
But don’t give up on an answer. The Psalm says, “I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” I think you should believe that too.
Questions for Contemplation
*In praying for certain situations and outcomes, have you considered that YOU might be the answer to your own prayer? What can you do to help or bless someone who is fighting a battle for their health?
*We are often impatient for a positive answer from God. Is it possible that you’ve received the negative answer? A ‘no’ is as much of an answer as a ‘yes’. How would you know?
*Who is the most prayerful person you know? Could you spend some time learning how to pray from them? Having a prayer mentor might be a way to move you from an anxious waiting to an accepting waiting.
*Are you aware of the positive answers you have received from prayers? Perhaps a prayer journal would be a good idea so that you could, in times of discouragement, look back to see the many answers you’ve received but forgot about.
*How can you move from seeing prayer as a heavenly prayer list to a developing and growing relationship with a God who draws near when we draw near?
Thanks for reading, JD.
Does it bother you when items on your prayer list never budge? It’s not easy to wait.