I have thought long and hard about this, and I have come to one conclusion: I would much rather have my prayers answered instantly, than wait. I would much rather pray for something ONE time, and have it appear immediately, than have to pray for something over and over and over. I guess I just prefer everything to be easy. It’s not my fault because society has groomed me that way. Think about it, we live in a world of “instant.” Instant coffee, instant rice, instant information from the whole world through the internet, instant messaging, instagram, fast food and even express delivery. I mean, if my Amazon Prime Account has figured out a way to deliver a package to my door in one to two days, then surely the God who created the universe can be even quicker!
In Matthew 7 Jesus said, “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door shall be opened.” That Scripture leads me to believe God will answer my prayer requests with some immediacy, but what happens when the answer isn’t immediate? What happens when God’s answer is to wait, and keep praying? Well, I can tell you what I have done in the past…I don’t wait, and I move on.
Yep, I move on. I stop praying that particular prayer request. I chalk up God’s silence to being God’s will and move on to other things. But is that really what God wants me to do? I don’t think so. In fact, I think too many people use God’s will as a loophole to stop praying and believing for something, when God hasn’t even given an answer yet. Let’s examine this a little more.
Jesus taught us to pray, “Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy Kingdom come, thy Will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” But again, didn’t Jesus say ‘Ask and you shall receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened?” Do these two statements contradict each other? I don’t think so. Should we pray for God’s will to be done? YES! Should we ask God for things in prayer, bringing our petitions to Him? YES!!
Here is why I believe that. You and I don’t know what the will of God is. The only way we can know God’s will is if the Holy Spirit reveals it to us. Henry Blackaby wrote a teaching study called Experiencing God. One of the lessons in that study is that “God speaks by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church to reveal Himself, His purposes, and His ways.” One thing I know for sure, I am not supposed to decide for God what His will is. If I am bringing a request to God, and a definite answer hasn’t come, then the response isn’t, “It must NOT be God’s will.” The response is, “Keep praying!”
Check out this Scripture…
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV)
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Whoa!!! Did you catch that last verse? It said the will of God is for us to rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all circumstances.
Let me wrap this up. There are moments when suffering will happen, and there will be times when the answer to our prayer will not come right away, or may even be, “No.” There are moments when our hope will reach a new low, and God will appear to be silent. There are moments when it will feel like our prayers our bouncing off the ceiling and falling back to the ground. “God, can you even hear me?” It is in those trials that God calls us to persevere, to be persistent in our prayers…until He gives us the definite NO…or the definite YES. In the words of Jim Valvano, “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.”
Don’t believe me? Check out this parable that Jesus told…
Luke 18:1-8 (NIV)
18 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. 3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’
4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”
6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
Always remember this: Our persistent prayers are the physical evidence that we believe NOTHING can stand in the way of God. So just keep praying!