THE UPS AND DOWNS OF PRAYER
And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Thy bond-servants may speak Thy word with all confidence, while Thou dost extend Thy hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Thy holy servant Jesus.
One of the greatest gifts God has ever given man is the gift of prayer. Why is prayer such a special and wonderful gift? Because it links our need with His supply, our nothingness with His almighty power. God wants us to pray, and He has promised to answer when we do (Jer. 33:3).
Ah, but here is the kicker: many of us have prayed and prayed and prayed … and have not yet seen our answer come. We believe God for the miracle we need, but we languish in the waiting room as we wait on Him to do what we have requested. Why does God seem to be so slow in answering our prayers?
Here are some of the reasons why:
1. The answer is no. Sometimes we are asking God for things that are not in keeping with His good and perfect will for our lives. In that case, His answer will be no. If we continue on in that request, His answer will not change. God told Moses he would not go into the Promised Land because of the rock striking incident. Moses prayed for God to reverse His decision.
Here is what Moses said about that prayer: "But the LORD was angry with me on your account, and would not listen to me; and the LORD said to me, 'Enough! Speak to Me no more of this matter’” (Deuteronomy 3:26). When God says, “No,” we need to say, “Okay, Lord. You know best.”
2. The timing is not right. God is much more interested in timing than He is time. We, on the other hand, are much more interested in time. We would love for God to act like a microwave oven. Pop in the prayer request and get a piping hot answer within minutes. But God isn’t like that and doesn’t typically operate that way. Often our prayers are on target, but the timing is not.
God has work to do behind the scenes to prepare all the particulars for the answer to come at the precise time. For instance, Abraham and Sarah were promised a son. No doubt, they claimed that promise in prayer, yet the promise didn’t come to fruition until nearly 30 years later. Was God late? No, He was right on time.
God does all things well (see Mark 7:37). Remember, the ultimate goal of prayer is not just to get your answer, but to draw near to God. Abraham grew stronger in faith and closer to the Lord as He waited on Him to bring about the answer—his son of miracle birth, little Isaac.
3. The Lord has a better plan. Paul prayed for God to remove his thorn in the flesh, and God said, “I’ve got a better plan. I will use it to pour out My grace and shine more brightly through you.” Paul responded by saying to the effect, “That sounds awesome. Thank you, Lord.”
THE PRAYER THAT GETS AN IMMEDIATE ANSWER
There is a prayer in the Bible that God longs to answer. It is the prayer the disciples prayed in Acts 4. When they finished that prayer, God immediately answered, and He punctuated His answer with an earthquake. It was God’s way of saying, “Hallelujah! Now you are getting it! That is the prayer I want to answer more than anything else!” What did they request? Boldness to speak His Word and be the witness He wanted them to be. God loved that prayer, and He longs to answer it today for you and me.
WHAT TO DO?
In your prayer life:
1. Quit asking for those things that He has already said no to. Let your every prayer be punctuated with the words of Jesus in Gethsemane, “Not my will, but Yours be done.”
2. Keep asking for the things that He has said yes to but have not yet come to pass. God loves and honors persistence.
3. Start asking for Him to give you boldness, confidence and power so that you can be the witness He wants you to be.
Be encouraged as you pray. The God who loves you longs to answer you. Jesus said in Matthew 7:11, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!”
Pastor Jeff Schreve,
From His Heart Ministries
Dr. Jeff Schreve believes that no matter how badly you may have messed up in life, God still loves you and has a wonderful plan just for you. From His Heart provides real truth, love and hope on over 700 radio stations each day, in 182 countries each week on TV, and is always available online. Pastor Jeff takes no income from this ministry. All donations go to furthering the broadcast outreach. As a listener/viewer supported ministry, we thank you for joining with us to help speak the truth in love to a lost and hurting world. Go to www.fromhisheart.org for more information.