“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”
John 15:7-8 (NIV)
“This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven…”
Matthew 6:9-10 (NIV)
Have you ever heard the old adage, “God always answers prayer, but sometimes the answer is no?” That can only be true if we are praying something that is outside of His will. Why would God invite us to know His will through intimacy with Him, and to pray, “…your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven,” only to say no?
My prayer life is supposed to be a direct reflection of what I have seen and heard in His presence. My requests should echo His desires, and my declarations should trumpet His will into the earth. In that case, there can be no “no” answer, because my prayer has been birthed from God’s yes.
The scripture says that all of His promises are yes and amen. There may be a time delay between my prayer and its manifestation of it on earth, there often is, but does that mean God is saying no, or not yet?
We have to understand that God doesn’t live in time the way we do. I try not to get overly concerned with time elements in prayer. My job is to spend time with Him, perceive His heart, and do my part to release His will on earth. I simply continue to declare His heart until it comes to pass or I run out of time on earth.
There are some prayers that must be answered within a timeframe, and God knows that. But most of the time, my perception of God being late or “last minute” are a function of my having not recognized His provision, or my missing some directions somewhere back up the path. Sometimes God brings the answer, but it doesn’t look like the answer I anticipated. That can be confusing. Sometimes, I am in a situation that needs God’s intervention because I ignored or disobeyed His instruction in the past. In that case, I need to repent and retrace some steps to the point where I know I am in His will. This will often negate the need for a prayer that “was not being answered.”
I believe that if we learn how to be content with and good stewards of what God IS revealing, we will worry less about what we don’t see yet, and we will be more effective and far less frustrated in our prayer lives.
There will always be some things that we don’t understand. The key is in never sacrificing what God has revealed on the altar of what we don’t understand yet – why something did or didn’t happen, why it happened differently than what we expected, or why our preconceived time-frame was not met.