If I may continue my theme from last week’s entry, I’d like to talk to you a little more about prayer. Specifically, unanswered prayer.
In recent days (the last 2 years) God has led me to increase my asks of him. I have felt specifically led to pray for things that I might not have before. I’ve engaged others in praying with me. I’ve fasted. I’ve searched the Scriptures and searched the motives of my heart.
And yet, as of today and at least from my perspective, those prayers remain unanswered.
In a prayer meeting recently where we were asking God for one of these impossible things, one of the people there commented how good and sweet God was to not answer our prayers immediately. At first I thought that sounded odd, as what could be good or sweet about an unanswered prayer?
But upon further reflection, I have come to agree with my wise sister in Christ. God has indeed blessed us by making us wait.
Here are five great things that have happened while we have waited on God. And for those of you who are also waiting, I pray this encourages and emboldens you.
- Our faith has grown. I know it sounds ironic, but God’s delayed answer has actually increased our faith. Rather than growing cynical or weary, we’ve grown more expectant and confident. That’s the obvious fruit of the extended time we’ve spent in God’s presence in prayer. And that leads to the second thing . . .
- We’re praying more. Each of us has found our individual and corporate prayer lives enhanced by the wrestling with God we’ve been doing. I personally haven’t known this much power, expectation and excitement in my prayer life in years. Every time I pray I know something is up. It only makes me want to pray more.
- We’re learning about prayer. The more we seek God, the more we learn about him. The more we pray, the more we learn about prayer. I’ve learned about the importance of staying after God in prayer (see last week’s entry). I’ve experienced levels of intercession, thanksgiving and praying in the Spirit (Eph. 6:18) that I wouldn’t have if I weren’t so desperate for God. I don’t know if God has led me to pray for these things so I could learn these profound lessons, but the lessons have clearly been worth the effort.
- We’re more humble. Had God answered us after our first round of prayers, I, for one, might have been tempted to grow cocky and think that I had this prayer thing all figured out. It might have been easy to say, “Hey, look what we did.” Today, I can promise you there’s no chance of that happening. This season of waiting has only heightened my awareness of the mystery and sovereignty of God. He’s going to act when and how he chooses, and when he does no one but him is going to get the credit. Waiting for God has broken and humbled me, and that’s all good.
- God’s answer will be even sweeter. To paraphrase the Apostle Paul, if waiting on God is sweet, imagine how sweet his answer is going to be. When Lake Travis hit it’s full elevation back in the Spring, it was the culmination of a multi-year prayer process and the official end of a severe drought in Central Texas. Our weather patterns have basically changed. God did that. And the celebration continues in Austin to this day. The end of the drought and the filling of the lake was a massive answer to prayer for all of us who interceded for it. And every one of those faithful intercessors will tell you that the wait was worth it.
I’m going to be dancing in the streets again soon. God is neither inconsistent nor uncaring. We are doing exactly what he asked of us. And he is working. The answer to our (and your) big, hairy, audacious prayer is going to come. And man, it’s gonna be sweet when it does.
For the vision is yet for the appointed time; it hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; for it will certainly come, it will not delay. Habakkuk 2:3