Several months ago, my pastor reminded our church of something that I have been reflecting on recently. He said we often thank God for answered prayers, but when was the last time we stopped to thank Him for the prayers He didn’t answer.
Matter of fact, stop right now and take some time to think about some of the prayers God did not answer for you. Now tell Him, “Thank You!” If necessary, you may even have to do a little dance or just throw your head back and laugh out loud. Don’t worry, I’ll wait for you until you’re finished! I am sure as you began thinking about some of the things you have asked Him for over the years, you can honestly say either, “What was I thinking to ask or want that?” or “I am so glad He didn’t give me that!”
Your protection may have come disguised as rejection, which we often do not see until way down the road. That silent treatment that God has been giving you when you ask Him, “How long, God?”, could really be a cover up for Him just wanting you to “Be Still, and know that [He] is God”. Perhaps that shut door could really be a set up for something greater He has in store for you.
In this microwave society, where we are supposed to have things like yesterday, it makes waiting seem like a curse word or a foreign language. Long lines in the grocery store force us to just drop our items on a shelf (where it doesn’t belong) and exit the store because we don’t want to wait. Perhaps, there may be someone on that line who needs a smile, a compliment or a word of encouragement. Sitting in traffic will quickly escalate to a level where you may begin using colorful language toward a driver who suddenly decides he/she wants to pull in front of you without signaling. I have been guilty. Don’t judge me! Yet, what if that person may have not seen you because they have been so overwhelmed by the fact that a family member may be in the hospital or he/she just heard some terrible news about their child? That language can quickly become a prayer for them.
I am learning in this life that often times if we take some time to stop, “get out of our feelings” and simply listen, we would come to the conclusion that some of the things we have asked and are waiting for may not have been the best thing for us. In this season of waiting, be sure to take off your faulty lens that probably have been fogged up by life experiences, cracked by past hurts and shaded by lots of “NOs”. These things may have been preventing you from seeing clearly. Instead, ask God for His lenses in order to see His perspective.
His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts. Can we be honest and really admit that sometimes we don’t really know what is best for us? ” The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve” (Jer. 17:9-10). Following our heart and all that’s in it can and probably has led us down unnecessary paths. He knows the motives behind why we are praying those prayers. The question is, “Do you?” Could it be that what we are waiting for or desiring may not even be our due reward? Sometimes, the prayers we offer up to Him, if He answered us in the way we would like, it would have us bound instead of free. It may even lead us back to Egypt when He already opened up the Red Sea for us to cross over into Canaan, the land flowing with milk and honey.
Do we trust that His plan for our lives is better than any thing we could have come up with on our own? While we are waiting, are we seeking the Prayer Answerer Himself or simply just the answer to the prayer? How would you feel if the only time someone talked to you was when they wanted something from you and then once they got it, they were off again until they wanted something else? What kind of relationship/friendship would that be? Yet, sadly that is how we treat God sometimes.
I guarantee you that when the focus of our prayers began to change, from merely seeking the answer to seeking the Prayer Answerer, you will be amazed at what you see, receive and experience. Then your prayer will simply be:
What prayers has He not answered for you? Do you see them as blessings and gifts?
What is the motive behind that prayer?
Does it line up with His Word?
Ask Him to help you to embrace the truth of asking only for the things that He wants you to have–His best things for you, but most importantly more of Him. He is the best gift Giver. You may discover that you no longer have to wait for that prayer to be answered because it may just not be His best thing for you.