I’ve written or spoken about prayer a number of times recently. That’s because it’s important and it’s such a large part of the Christian life. It’s also because we struggle with it so much.
We struggle just to pray – to spend any significant amount of time praying. We struggle to know what to say. We struggle to believe that our prayers matter in the larger scheme of life. We struggle to know if we’re praying in the will of God. We struggle because God doesn’t always answer prayer – at least not in ways that we can see or understand.
It’s that last idea that I want to talk about.
Why doesn’t God answer our prayers in ways that we can see or understand?
Why does God let someone die when we’ve prayed for their healing? Why does God allow evil to continue when we’ve prayed against it? Why doesn’t God eliminate our suffering in response to our prayers? Why doesn’t God change my circumstances – I’ve asked Him at least 1,000 times.
I’m not sure of all of the answers to those questions – I’m sure that there are many things that come into play and that God has many reasons for what He does and does not do.
But there’s one area that we don’t often think about and in fact an area that I haven’t seen explored in any depth. That is Time.
As you study the Bible, look at how God operates in relationship to Time. There seem to be specific periods of time associated with various people and events. This is especially evident in the Old Testament.
Israel was in bondage in Egypt for a specific amount of time (Genesis 15:13). Moses was in Egypt for 40 years, in the desert for 40 years and wandering in the wilderness for 40 years – a coincident? Over and over again, specific periods of time are associated with specific people or events. God works in relationship to time even when the events are yet future.
The New Testament talks about this in connection to the birth of Jesus and His future return. He came in God’s appointed time (Gal 4:4) and will return at the time that God has determined (Matthew 24:36).
So it is with prayer. You pray but God has a time in which He will answer that prayer. And that isn’t always our time. In fact, it is rarely our time. And that’s when we are prone to discouragement.
But the fact that God has a time that is not your time should not discourage you or make you pray less. Instead it should cause you to continue to pray, knowing that in God’s time – His perfect time, He will answer.
In a very non-intuitive way, God, working in His Time should encourage us!
This was God’s lesson to the prophet Habakkuk in the Old Testament. God was planning to send the wicked and violent Babylonians to punish Israel for their sinfulness (1:12-2:1), just not at that moment. His judgment was yet future but it would come at the appointed time (2:3). God was going to answer, just not now, but the prophet was never to doubt that God would answer. In fact, God said to him, though it tarries, wait for it; Because it will surely come, it will not tarry (IE when it was the right time it would definitely happen).
So it is many times with prayer. Sometimes we pray for something and we see quick answers. But many times we don’t. And that’s because it is not yet God’s Time.
One thing that we know by faith is that God’s time is infinitely better than our time.
Stay in the Word