Monday, September 10, 2018

God’s Delays - Martin Wiles

The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. James 5:16 NLT

Prayer changes things—except when God chooses to delay answering them.

The prayer of my childhood was simple: “Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.”

At some point, I moved on to the Lord’s Prayer. Certainly more complicated, yet I doubt I could understand just how much when I first prayed it—like the kids and adults who prayed it every morning at the Christian school where I taught. I wondered how many of us actually thought about what we were saying. Rote repetition came easy.

James maintains the prayer of a righteous person produces wonderful results, but I’ve said many a prayer that seemed to go no higher than the ceiling and didn’t bring any visible results. Such as the one Mary and Martha surely prayed for their brother who lay on his deathbed. But he died anyway because Jesus delayed coming when He could have been there to heal Lazarus.

God’s delays in answering prayers aren’t mean-spirited. He’s not like the pagan gods who toyed with the emotions of their worshippers. God’s delays have purpose—and are actually for our good—though we might not realize it immediately.

When my motives aren’t right, God delays answering my prayers. Others can’t see my motives, but God can. I may not even know what they are when they are deep-seated. By delaying His answers, God causes those motives to rise to the surface of my mind so I can either change my prayer or alter my motives.

God’s delays His answers when His timing and mine don’t coincide. What I ask for may be in His will—just not at the moment. The delay teaches me patience and helps me realize the importance of right timing.
Sometimes, I’m not prepared for God’s answers—I just think I am. The Bible is filled with stories of those God called but who had to be prepared first: Moses, David, Paul, etc.

And there’s also the possibility God will use someone else in answering my prayer and that He needs to prepare them. Others have often blessed me in various ways, but God had to impress upon them the need to do so.

God’s delays are in our best interests. Be patient until His answer comes.

Prayer: Father, thank You for answering our prayers, even when the answer doesn’t come when we want it to. 

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