Now there’s a word that makes you want to scream.
You’re busy from dawn ’til dark. Places to be. Things to do. Not enough hours in the day. There’s no room for “Wait” on your to-do list.
What’s the longest you’ve ever had to wait for something? I’m guessing it was waiting for an answer to prayer.
Elizabeth and Zechariah got stuck in that line for a long time. They prayed and prayed for a child. Many years had passed since they’d said their “I-dos” when God finally answered their prayer in their old age and put a very special baby in their crib—John, the forerunner of Jesus. The timing of their baby’s birth was to-the-second perfect.
Staring at the tomb of Lazarus, Jesus said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me” (Jn 11:41).
We aren’t told what Jesus prayed that the Father heard—but the context implies he asked that when he said, “Lazarus, come out!” Lazarus would come out. Jesus thanked God because he was certain he had heard his prayer and that the answer was on the way.
When you pray, thank God that he has heard your request—and be confident that the answer is on the way.
That’s not easy. Patience is a missing ingredient in most of our prayers. Waiting may not be your long suit—you want an immediate response when you pray. But God’s answer may require some remedial work before arriving at your door—a makeover of some relationships, conditions, and attitudes.
God hears your prayer, maps the answer, and posts it for delivery. But a few stops along the way may be necessary to deal with some negative issues that are messing up your world. On its way to you, the answer to your prayer may have to make a stop and spend some time tending the wounds of someone with whom you’ve had bad blood. It may need to make another stop to handle some thorny circumstances that are standing in the way. And it may call for a visit at your place to do some work on your attitude.
Then there’s the submission issue. Until you can say—and mean—“Your will be done,” your prayer will be anemic, and the answer that you think you want will fall short. Unless you are submissive to the Father’s will, you’re asking him to do it your way—in other words, you’re calling the play and asking God to put his omnipotent muscle to work to make it happen.
That mindset assumes that you know the right answer better than God does. When it’s your way or no way, your confidence is in yourself, not in God. You have to jump the submission hurdle before God’s answer to your prayer can make it to your door.
When you pray, God hears—and there are two things that he alone knows: the right answer and the right time for the arrival of that answer.
It’s a good thing to thank God for answered prayers and blessings received. But faith reaches a new level when you can thank him for prayers not yet answered and blessings not yet received—because you’re convinced that they are on the way.
If you are confident that the Father has heard your prayer, that he has the right answer, that the answer is on the way, and that it will arrive at the right time, your joy will go from 0 to 60 in about 4 seconds.
Pour out your heart to God. Thank him that he has heard your prayer and that the answer is on the way. Thank him for both how and when the answer will arrive.
“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord” (Ps 27:14).