I had the opportunity to participate in a prayer service at our church while I was writing this book.* As a congregation, many of us gathered together to pray over a variety of needs in and around our church family. After we finished praying, two different church members shared with me miraculously immediate answers to specific prayers that God gave them during the time of prayer. One rejoiced over a restored joy. The other had been praying for a family member who needed a job only to notice a message on her cell phone after praying that a job proposal had been offered. Inside, I leaped in excitement at the quickness of God’s specific answer to these two prayers.
But while we were praying together, I distinctly remember praying myself for prayers that have long gone unanswered from my point of view. I reflected on a few prayers I knew my wife and I have been praying for off and on for years. I thought over the church body gathered together that evening and imagined the lost children, drug-addicted brothers or sisters, broken marriages, and difficult job situations that were being held up, again, to God. I wasn’t the only one thinking this way. A church member stopped to tell me that she came to the service having just about given up on a prayer request she had been praying for a long time. While we prayed together as a church, she told me God had renewed her zeal to keep praying.
From our view, God’s choices to answer some requests immediately, others soon, and still others seemingly never can create in us a strange mix of joy, confusion, doubt, and faith all at the same time. No one can explain to us why God answers as He does, because we don’t know His mind. But, I’ve come to believe that He answers some prayers quickly, even immediately, to remind us of His faithfulness and power so that we can continue to trust Him about the needs and requests which seem to be fraught with delays. Additionally, I believe He answers our prayers this way to keep us in check. Could you imagine how spoiled and impatient we would grow if God answered all of our prayers quickly? We’ve all seen that unbridled child pouting or whining his or her way to another self-centered want with a coddling parent closely behind ensuring that every tiny request is met with immediate consideration. God, in His great kindness, spares us from such spoiling. Thanking God for unanswered prayers. That would make a good country song, don’t you think?
This post is an excerpt from my forthcoming book, Pray Like This. Be looking for it toward the summer.