It isn’t that God doesn’t hear. It isn’t that He’s not there or that He doesn’t care…
So maybe things have slowed down. Maybe God seems a little silent. Maybe He seems to close more doors than He opens, and some prayers just seem to blow away like mist on the wind.
I must confess, I’ve been on the tipping point of a bad attitude about my prayers lately. My life has gotten to this point over the last month where, although I won’t say it out loud, in my heart I think: It doesn’t matter how much I pray for anything. It’s not gonna happen. I pray for my friend’s request for a new job– over and over– and over and over: Nothing. I pray for my sisters to find godly men, but our circle of godly, single men only shrinks. It never grows. All the people I invite to church never come. Not a single one.
So this little seed in my heart has been growing: Doesn’t matter what you pray for, Kate. The answer is always gonna be NO.
I didn’t even realize I believed this until something cataclysmic happened at work this week. (Okay, so it wasn’t cataclysmic, but in my negative state– that old God’s-just-taking-everything-away: tears, tears, tears– it felt cataclysmic to me.) We’ve been shorthanded at work, and so getting any time off lately has been stressful, to put it mildly. I have an upcoming invisalign appointment that I need the afternoon off for, and if you’ve ever gone through the process of straightening your teeth, there’s a certain time schedule you optimistically must stick to. I was informed I might not be able to have that afternoon off, and could I reschedule my appointment? Long story short, my dentist is very popular so the next available appointment would have put me a month and a half off my schedule.
And so the first thing I thought was: Please, Lord, work this out. I’ve been doing so good so far. I don’t want to be put that far behind. And the second thing I thought of was actually a million things. Literally, a laundry list of all the prayers God has said either “No” to or “Wait and see” flashed through my mind. Even though I KNOW, I am supposed to take my requests to God and leave them there, trusting that He will work out what is best, panic lodged itself firmly inside my throat.
You’ve said no to everything lately, Lord. You’re gonna say “No” to this, too, aren’t you? I tearfully prayed.
How silly! It’s not even like this would really be life-effecting if I was put behind on my schedule for my teeth– they are just teeth– but this was one more thing to go wrong. This was one more door (a tiny door, yes) that God could slam closed, and I’ve been struggling so much to smile through it all and say: “This is good for me.” But the smile is cracking. The smile is falling from the plaster on my face.
Guess what happened? God said “Wait and see.” I’m not joking. It took me a day and half to resolve this. My boss had to take unexpected time off herself. It was a day and a half of frustrated misery, I am sad to say. Yes, first of all because I was frustrated the appointment might have to be changed and I had to wait to find out for sure, but secondly, I was frustrated because I realized that I really did believe God was just slashing through every prayer request I brought to him.
I was bringing my requests grudgingly. Here you go, God, this is the state of things. Yup, now I’ve told you, I guess that means things are just gonna get worse before they get better AGAIN. I wasn’t praying hopeful. I was praying selfish. After every lesson God has taught me about the power of prayer, after every prayer I have seen Him answer (even this year!), I still forget the lesson. God cares about what we care about, and He is listening, even when He seems silent.
My boss did work something out so I could have my afternoon off for the appointment, but the waiting time reminded me: Sometimes God delays His answer so that we learn the lesson He wants us to see while we wait. I needed to pray faithfully expectant and hopeful God would work things out rather than pray selfish and concerned and woe-is-me. God is faithful to answer our prayers when we bring them to Him. We just need to keep our eyes open for the way in which He answers those prayers.
I challenge you to start making a prayer list. Write you prayer requests down and leave space below them, next to them, to write down God’s answers. I started doing this after God’s lesson with my dental appointment, and I am already surprised by how many have been answered. Don’t be afraid to write down the small ones too. Even the small prayers, with their small answers, are enough to build a healthy faith that God is, indeed, listening and a healthy hope that He will, indeed, work all things out in His time.
“Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.”
Isaiah 30: 18