In Mover of mountains and Lord of valleys, we talked about prayer as the expression of our nature as a union of eternity and time. Just before that, we said that prayer is a conversation between you and God about the world around you and the world within you. So when we combine the two definitions, what we are saying this: we are creatures of earth and spirit who, through prayer, learn from God about time, eternity and ourselves. With this synthesis, we can begin to understand why the answers to some prayers take longer to manifest than others.
Jars of Clay
When I first came to faith, I asked God for a few things. I asked Him for the Holy Spirit, for wisdom and I asked Him to get my mother out of a bad job in one week. Within that week, my mother was wrongly fired. Yet, I did not immediately see or feel the answers to my other two prayers. So I stopped asking God about them. I believed that God had heard me but I just figured, “I had asked Him and I believed He had answered.” What was the point of repeating myself?
Now sadly, this has not always been the case in my life. Sometimes, I have stopped praying because I thought God was “taking too long” or because I didn’t see the answer. I didn’t think or understand that when I move on from God, I am moving out of the light of knowledge and into the darkness of ignorance. From the Bible, we know that we are made from eternity and time but very few people can actually say what eternity is or what time is. We definitely do not understand all the intricacies of how eternity and time abide and relate to form our being Psalms 139:13-15. It would appear then that we who are ignorant of our own natures and ignorant of our location in time and space are busy trying to hurry God along. It is like batter saying to the cook, “Add the sugar now!” or, “I’ve been in this oven too long.” It is like clay commanding the potter, “Make me into a Ming Dynasty jar!” Isaiah 45:9-11
It would be better for clay and batter to be silent because they don’t know nothing about nothing. So also, any impatience with God that makes us stop praying is rooted in pride of life. It is declaration that I am strong when really, I am weak or that I am clothed when I am naked Revelations 3:17. I can only move on to other idols and gods for the answers to my prayers when I think I know who I am, where I am and when I am. God have mercy and help me repent before I discover that the monster hiding in the darkness is me.
Now silence before God does NOT necessarily mean the absence of speech. It is very right and even righteous to ask God, “How long?” But note, the Christian asks GodPsalms 13:1, Habakkuk 1:2, Revelation 6:9-11. By asking God a Christian uses her question to simultaneously express her position as a child in desperate need of her Father God. Instead of moving ahead without Him, she loves Him and prays to Him and waits on Him because she trusts that He Knows everything about everything. She trusts that He Loves her. She trusts that He Is Almighty and Good. When a Christian remembers that he is dust carried along the winds of time, he is free, like a child, to ask his Father “Are we there yet?” but he never tries to take the wheel from The Father. He waits and discovers that in the end, he got there right on time Isaiah 40:28-31.
So instead of fleeing God, let us understand the movements of our hearts so that we can flee the temptation of creating idols Exodus 32:1. In 1 Kings 18:43-44 Elijah prayed to God for rain. But the rain did not immediately come. In fact, his servant went back and forth seven times before seeing even a tiny cloud. Now on the first trip to see the horizon, the servant had an expectation of change. But by the 6th time, if I was the servant, I would have been wondering whether this cloud was ever going to appear. That this servant of Elijah continued to expect God’s Answer so that he was able to perceive in the distant horizon a cloud the size of a man’s hand seems to me a far greater miracle than the fire that had just fallen from heaven 1 Kings 18:37-38. Over time we have a tendency to let our perspective shape our prayer instead of persisting in faith so that God, through our prayers, can continue to shape our perspective. And yet, as we said above, we don’t really know anything about the physical world or the spiritual world. So why should I let ignorance and darkness shape the words I speak to my Loving God?
So let us not pray from the darkness. Let us instead pray in the light. Let us not pray out of fear of the circumstances or the pressure of time. Let us pray out of a holy fear of God that comes from experiencing His Love. Let us not pray out of ignorance. Let us pray out of our knowledge. As is the motto of Thinkheaven, “Knowledge is any relationship we experience through our relationship with Jesus Christ.” What then do we know about God through Jesus Christ? Matthew 6:9-13 God Is. God Is our Father Who Is King of heaven and earth. God Loves Us enough to die for us. God Is Almighty. God Is Good. God Wants His Will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven. God Wants us to desire that His Will be done on earth as it is Heaven. He Will give us bread to eat and He will forgive us our sins. He will keep us from temptation and deliver us from evil. Therefore, in order to continue in prayer, especially when the answer seems delayed, we must have faith in God and believe He Is Who He Says He Is. No matter what the circumstances are, we must always keep our sight on God through prayer. Remember: prayer is a conversation between you and God about the world around you and the world within you. Never ever stop talking to Him. Always always maintain the conversation with God. Believe in God and then tell Him what you see going on in and around you.
This does not mean that you ignore the world or pretend there are no problems. David gives a clear example of how we should pray in the Psalms. Psalms 22 is a perfect example of a man who was talking with God about everything going on around Him. Israel by the red sea, in Exodus 14:10-12, believed they were trapped and saw the might of Egypt threatening to crush them. But Moses, by seeing God through prayer, saw that the Egyptian army was about to be destroyed Exodus 14:13-14. Through his prayer, God showed Moses a path where others only saw the sea! Exodus 14:15-16 And Jesus on the cross, even when He cried like his father David Psalms 22:1, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me,” was still praying to God His Father in Whom He Believed Matthew 27:46. So if the freedom from sin seems delayed in coming or the enemies just seem to keep getting closer, or you cannot yet touch your heart’s desire, continue clinging to God through constant unceasing prayer. Do not let your perspective of your circumstances narrow the expanse of your prayers. Instead, continue to pray so that God may shape your perspective of circumstances.
Some Practical Advice
It always helps to ask the following question, “What could God do here?” Look out into the valley of dry bones, look out into the red seas ahead of you and look at the army chasing you and ask God, “What can you do here?” And with that prayer, suddenly you are free to move mountains or stop the moon. Or maybe, like Jesus, you can join God in loving an army of enemies into an army of friends who dine at your table Psalms 23:6, Romans 5:7-10. All things are possible to her who believes. Mark 9:23