I have to do a heart check sometimes when I feel like my prayers aren't being answered. Am I praying correctly? Does my heart have the right intentions with my prayers? Am I being self-serving and selfish? I would like to think I'm not and yet, James says:
James 4:3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.
And yet, we are to ask according to His will:
1 John 5:14-15 - Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.
Here we have the key to preventing our hearts from filling with selfishness or our prayers being ineffective: we pray asking according to His will. He wants the best for us. Jeremiah 29:11 states He only has good thoughts toward us. He also knows what we have NEED of before we ask it.
Matthew 6:7,8 - "And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For you Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him."
He knows what we need before we ask Him for anything. Our Father has already said He will provide our basics: food, clothing, shelter (Matthew 6:25-34). But He cautions us against using many words...and being repetitive. I know I am guilty of often praying for the same thing over and over again. He says we are not do that. God knows what we need. Sometimes we ask repetitively because we do not know how else to pray...or what other words to use...or even what we need in a given situation.
Romans 8: 25,26 - But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
I must admit that I am not an expert on prayer. Sometimes I have to tell the Lord that He can see my heart and thoughts and He knows because I just don't have the words to speak. Paul told us in Romans that is okay. We don't need to know what to say or how to pray because the Holy Spirit does. Waiting on the direction of the Holy Spirit and waiting on God to move exercises our faith in a manner that will lend our obedience to the Word of God.
Patience and perseverance are not easy qualities to grow. And yet, the Word throughout the Bible consistently says to wait on the Lord. The Psalmist says it very succinctly in Psalm 62:5:
My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him.
It sounds to me like the Psalmist was telling his soul to wait on the Lord. The scripture above does not say "my soul does wait" or "my soul waits" it says, "My soul, wait..." The Psalmist goes on to tell his soul why he should wait
Psalm 62:6-7 - He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved. Only God is my salvation and my glory; the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.
We wait on Him because He is an immovable, indestructible rock. He is our salvation able to save and rescue us from any and all situations. He is our defense, our protection. He allows us to stand firm and not be moved. He is the solid source of our strength. He is our refuge..our safe place. The only place we find all of those things is in God. He is where our faith should be focused.
Verse 8 - Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.
Verse 8 does not say trust Him sometimes. It says to trust Him at all times. Through everything good, bad, and indifferent He is a refuge. So whether we feel like Heaven's floor (so to speak) continues to bounce our prayers back at us, we don't lose hope knowing He will answer in His time...which is always the right time. We don't know what the delays of receiving our answers are either. There is an important lesson in the Bible about that as well. Look at Daniel 10:1-13.
Daniel had been fasting and praying for three weeks for an answer. On the 24th day an angel of the Lord appeared to him saying Daniel had been heard on day 1 of his request and the angel had been dispatched at that time with his answer. The angel then relayed to Daniel the hold up was the Prince of Persia had delayed him in a fight and it was so fierce that he had left another angel, Michael, fighting the principality. For me, the moral of that story is simple: we cannot lose heart because whether we receive our answer when we think we should or not God is working on our behalf. We can't step outside the will of God, lose our patience, and move forward in our strength. We need the stability and strength of the immovable and indestructible Rock to stand firm.
Christian musician Lincoln Brewster has a song that is perfect for this post today. Listen here: Everlasting God. Please be blessed this weekend and remember this one thing remains very true. God is not planning your demise by not answering your prayers. God is not ignoring your prayers. He is working on your behalf whether you see and hear it or not because:
Jeremiah 29:11 - For I know the thoughts I think I toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
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