We live in a rushing world. We rush to work, rush home to get dinner going, rush to the babysitters etc.. Seldom do we do things at a comfortable pace. Many of us our busy with our jobs, family, cell phones, tv, internet and electronic gadget and games! We move constantly, seldom taking the time to relax or unwind without filling that time with some type of distraction.
When we text, email or facebook message someone we are often annoyed if they do not respond immediately. We expect instant answers and responses. People expect to be able to reach us through one means or another just about any hour of the day or night! If we need information on anything we google it and receive info often within seconds. Waiting patiently has become a thing of the past.
When we spend so much of our life in high speed mode, it’s not surprising that we often come to God wanting instant answers. In case you haven’t discovered it yet, God does NOT work on our time schedule. 🙂 As we read in Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV 8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Oftentimes, it is our arrogance and selfish nature that demand instant gratification with regards to our prayer life. We think we know how best to resolve a situation and basically tell God what He needs to do to bring the resolution about. Thankfully, He seldom does things as we expect. He knows so much more..including the beginning and the end of things. He knows the heart of the people we may be working with, He knows the overall situation and circumstance and isn’t just interested in our interests but all His kids interests. He looks at the long term results of our character and what He wishes to accomplish in and through our lives. It is out of love for us that He may delay an answer or deny us our request. He will NEVER respond to our prayers contrary to His word. He will NEVER respond against His very nature. He WILL respond at the right time with an answer that demonstrates His love and His nature, even if that response happens to be NO. Just as a loving parent at times will withhold something from their child knowing it is not in their best interest, so will God withhold from us anything that is not in His best interest for us. We are changing from glory to glory daily and part of that is becoming more Christlike in our character. Answering all our prayers in the way we want them answered could prevent this!
One of the most dramatic examples of God’s perfect timing in response to prayer can be found in the book of John. We read the story of Mary and Martha and their sick brother Lazarus. John 11:1-44 NIV 11 Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”4 When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, 7 and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”8 “But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?” 9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. 10 It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”12 His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”16 Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” 17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Now Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” 28 After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there. 32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.35 Jesus wept.36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said.“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
There were so many ways Jesus could have answered Mary and Martha’s prayers prior to Lazarus’ death. All it would have take would have been for Him to speak the word and Lazarus would have been healed. His will however, was to allow him to die and be resurrected thereby increasing the faith of the witnesses and glorifying God even more! His ways are NOT our ways!
The more we spend time in God’s word and in prayer, the more we come to understand how very much God loves us! The more we understand this, the more we are able to trust Him, even when He says no or not now. It is never out of cruelty but always out of love. God is the Creator of the Universe, the Ancient of Days, the Great I AM, the Alpha and Omega and we must remember that when we come before Him. He will not be manipulated or strong armed into doing things our way or else. Instead we can come before Him, through Christ, and make our requests known and then trust that He who ALWAYS looks out for our long term best interest, will answer our prayer when and as He sees best.
2Peter 3:8-9 NIV 8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.