Over the last couple of weeks or so, I have been spending a lot of time in prayer and reading my Bible asking God how much longer I would have to wait for some things that I have been asking for for what feels like an eternity. Often, when we ask God for things, we sit there expecting an immediate answer, even if we know that God doesn’t always work like that. Whilst I am still waiting for those things, I have learnt a lesson that I really feel is worth sharing with you all.
When we pray, we are in direct communication with the God who is powerful enough to create the universe, yet wants a deep and meaningful relationship with us. If you think about it, that statement in itself is an incredible statement to make. Yet, I feel like a lot of us can take that for granted when we pray. We can often think, even subconsciously, that because we are talking to God, who has the ability to do all things, we then have the right to have our prayers answered straight away. And while this is true, the answers may not be what you are expecting: God will answer with either a yes, no or not yet.
If you get this answer, it’s flippin’ awesome! This answer can be an immediate witness to the grace, glory and power of Jesus Christ. And for those of you doubting whether or not anyone ever gets this answer, here are a few examples. A few friends of mine went to Newday this year (a Christian festival for young people in the UK) and there was a night when they prayed for healing. When they prayed for my brother’s hip to be healed after it had been giving him problems for years after he dislocated it, he was able to move it like he hadn’t been able to since the accident. He was able to sit cross legged on the floor! As well as that, they prayed for a youth leader who had burnt his hand that day and the blisters instantly disappeared. But these haven’t just been happening as a recent occurrence; God has been saying yes to requests for centuries! In John 2, Jesus attended a wedding where they were having such a good time, the wine ran out. And what did Jesus do? He turned water into wine so they could carry on partying! It was an immediate answer to prayer.
God is so gracious to us, that He answers our prayers with a no when necessary. At the time, it may suck. A lot. Matthew 6:8 says “your Father knows what you need before you ask him”. And whilst mean that there will be times He will give you what you are asking for, He will also say no. Because He knows what you need, rather than what you want or would like. I would love many things, like a new phone or a library inside my own house. But God knows I don’t need those. In fact, they would probably distract me so much that the time I spend with Him would reduce significantly. Yes, these issues are pretty small in comparison to what some people ask for and get a ‘no’ to. But God tells you no, and keeps you in a situation because he is gracious and it will bring glory to Him in the end. Sometimes, no is the best answer, although it can be the most difficult to accept when it is given to you.
- Not yet.
Then you get the not yets. Which is something I feel like I have been getting a lot of. This is where God teaches you patience and dependence on Him, rather than on the things, most likely, that you are asking for. Knowing that you have got to wait for something is always tough and ultimately, it is something that everyone struggles with. I have not yets for where God wants me to be in the future, how long I should stay in Plymouth for and many other things. I often catch myself asking God how much longer I will have to wait for a number of these prayers to be answered. But in times where I have been wrestling with God about it, I have found myself going to Psalm 13, where David is asking “how long”, questioning when God will break through for him and answers his cries for help. Do you want to know the thing that gets me every time I read this chapter? The ending. David says this, “I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me” (Psalm 13 vs 5-6). I cried the first time I read it. Even though David was battling with the fact that he couldn’t have the answers he wanted, he still praised God because He had been so good to him. So we can wait for ever and still tank God for all that He has done for us.
Then it struck me. This should be our response, no matter what the answer to our prayers are. It shouldn’t matter whether God says yes, no or not yet because we should be so thankful for what He has already done and how He has saved us when we didn’t deserve to be saved. God’s grace means that he answers with what is best for us and I want to thank Him for that every single day.