A trial that all Christians go through is the delay of an answer to prayer. There are times when prayer is committed to the Lord and the answer is very slow in coming. Repeated prayer does not speed up the process. In this case a Christian must trust in the Lord and wait. There are other times when prayer is answered very fast. There are even times when God's care and protection is displayed before we even pray! But as mentioned there are many times when the answer to prayer is very slow in coming.
Before we consider why there are times we must wait on the Lord, look at the following devotional on the subject by Spurgeon:
Spurgeon December 9 Morning
"Therefore will the Lord wait that he may be gracious unto you."
God often DELAYS IN ANSWERING PRAYER. We have several instances of this in sacred Scripture. Jacob did not get the blessing from the angel until near the dawn of day-he had to wrestle all night for it. The poor woman of Syrophenicia was answered not a word for a long while. Paul besought the Lord thrice that "the thorn in the flesh" might be taken from him, and he received no assurance that it should be taken away, but instead thereof a promise that God's grace should be sufficient for him. If thou hast been knocking at the gate of mercy, and hast received no answer, shall I tell thee why the mighty Maker hath not opened the door and let thee in? Our Father has reasons peculiar to himself for thus keeping us waiting. Sometimes it is to show his power and his sovereignty, that men may know that Jehovah has a right to give or to withhold. More frequently the delay is for our profit. Thou art perhaps kept waiting in order that thy desires may be more fervent. God knows that delay will quicken and increase desire, and that if he keeps thee waiting thou wilt see thy necessity more clearly, and wilt seek more earnestly; and that thou wilt prize the mercy all the more for its long tarrying. There may also be something wrong in thee which has need to be removed, before the joy of the Lord is given. Perhaps thy views of the Gospel plan are confused, or thou mayest be placing some little reliance on thyself, instead of trusting simply and entirely to the Lord Jesus. Or, God makes thee tarry awhile that he may the more fully display the riches of his grace to thee at last. Thy prayers are all filed in heaven, and if not immediately answered they are certainly not forgotten, but in a little while shall be fulfilled to thy delight and satisfaction. Let not despair make thee silent, but continue instant in earnest supplication.
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As you see there can be many delays for getting an answer to prayer. Not all prayers are given a 'yes' from the Lord. Sometimes we do not know how to pray because we do not know the entire plan of God for our life. There are times when the answer to prayer is a no. This is a good thing. A yes from the Lord and a no from the Lord is good in that the answer is given and we have direction and leading.
Many times the painful part of prayer involves neither a yes or no answer but a wait. It is easy to be impatient and want the prayer answered immediately. But there are times when the Lord does not send a quick answer or fulfillment of our prayer.
Below is a list of some potential reasons for a wait or a delay.
- A delay is for our benefit: Perhaps the Lord is developing patience or longsuffering or some other quality in the life of his children.
- Dependence upon the Lord and not on oneself is a quality the Lord wants in His people. In this world lost people pride themselves on their ability to supply their own needs without any help from the Lord. The Christian is different as he looks to his Lord who promises to supply every need. There are times when the Lord may delay a prayer answer to teach His children to trust and wait on His supply.
- Correction: A delay could be caused as part of a correction in our lives or correction in an area of Bible doctrine.
- A delay may be used to cause a person to appreciate and be very thankful of the answer once it does come.
- The Lord leads His people: People need to remember that a person who is saved is walking with the Lord. This means the Lord leads and the Christian follows. There are times the path leads to good times and other times the path leads through a trial. It is important to realize that the Lord is leading us rather than the Christian choosing the path and telling the Lord what to do.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
All God's people go through trials in this life. Many times we must wait and be patient and the actual waiting is part of the trial. The bottom line always involves learning to trust in the Lord. Trust is easy in good times but in the midst of a trial it can be very difficult. Yet the Lord wants His people to trust in Him.
5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
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