walk in the word
8Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, 9remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, 10declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, “my counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,”11calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it. —Isaiah 46:9-11
With this month’s focus on prayer you may say, “Well, James, I have to tell you. I’ve prayed a lot of different things, and God didn’t answer.” Is that true? I believe that God answers every prayer. But it’s crucial for us to remember who we’re talking to in prayer. We’re not giving God orders and He’s not at all hesitant about the way He answers.
The first answer is “Yes.” That’s the most frequent answer you get to prayer provided you’re not praying for stupid stuff. In that case, you could wait a long time for a yes. Let me tell you some prayers that I have always seen God answer affirmatively. I have never asked for strength and not received it. I have never, ever prayed for wisdom and not received it. But I have often not prayed for wisdom and regretted the decisions that I made. When I’ve applied James 1:5 and recognized my lack of wisdom and asked God to supply, He has delivered! I had never prayed an unanswered request for peace. Most biblical praying receives an immediate “Yes.”
God’s second answer to prayer is “No.” That’s why James 4:2 says, “You do not have because you do not ask.” But the only time you get a “no” is if you pray for stupid stuff or if you pray for good stuff with a timeline. I have found God very unresponsive to my ultimatums. “I have to have this, God . . . by Friday.” I doubt if the Trinity holds a crisis session: “This is serious. He might quit. We had better give him what he asked.” God doesn’t respond to blustering, bluffing, or threats. If we’re praying foolishly, we’ll get a “no.”
But if I’m praying according to God’s will, entrusting my future in God’s hands, He has a third option: “Wait.” The only thing between you and the delayed “yes” is time. There are a lot of specific answers that fall into the “wait” category. I wonder how often we forfeit our “delayed yes” through doubt. God has made promises about a lot of stuff, but He retains the sovereign choice of timing. So we pray unceasingly, and we wait patiently.
How is waiting going for me? How can I replace doubt with faith?
Prayer – Father, I don’t want to derail Your promises by my doubts and impatience. Thank You for reminding me that Your timing is always perfect, that Your ways are always right, and that Your plans are always best! Help me to keep returning to Your promises and resting in You as I wait to see Your answers to my prayers. I’m entrusting everything to the power of Jesus’ name, Amen.
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