Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Why God Waits Till the Last Minute To Answer Prayer

I had been scrounging for this thing everywhere.  How does someone misplace a school textbook?  Thankfully, we didn’t need it every week for class (it’s kind of a supplementary book) but I dreaded the day when our teacher would tell us we needed to read a chapter from the book.  I searched everywhere--high and low--expected places and unexpected places. But I couldn’t find it!  I prayed and asked that the Lord would aid me in my search to find this textbook.  I asked that the Lord would somehow help me find that which I had lost.

That was all several weeks ago.  I’ve been searching for it ever since—to no avail.  Then this morning, I saw the dreaded words: “Read chapter 7 before next class.”  Oh my, now I was in trouble.  I had even scoured all over again this morning before I heard of my homework, and couldn’t find it.  Once again, I pleaded with the Lord to provide for my need.

And then, I went over to the stack where I keep all my school-books.  I was looking in it for a class notebook.  And what did I find but the very textbook I had been missing!  Now I’ll pause here to explain two things.  #1:  I had already combed through that very stack five or six times already, with no results.  I was quite convinced that it wasn’t there.  #2: It was on the smaller and skinnier side, so it is possible that I could have missed it on the first or second search.

So there’s my story.  Some may wonder if God was right answer my prayer at the very last minute.  He had heard my prayer.  Couldn’t He have simply answered it way back a few weeks ago?  This is a question I have asked myself as well.  Have you ever noticed that God often waits till the last minute to answer our prayers?  You finish an essay 30 minutes before it’s due.  Your voice heals right before your solo Sunday morning.  Your grandmother gives you the last $20 you needed for that missions trip the day before you needed to give it to your youth pastor.  Why does God often wait till the last minute to answer our prayers?

God isn’t lazy and He doesn’t neglect our prayers.  Rather, He waits to answer our prayers for our own good!

1.  God operates on a different timetable. 

He has said,
“’For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord.
‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.’
” ~Isaiah 55:8-9

I think this reason kind of encapsulates the rest.  God’s ways are so much higher than ours!  We will not always understand why He waits till the last minute, but we can know that it is for our good.  We can stand assured that He does hear and He is answering!  And He is working everything out for our good: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

2.  God wants to test our faith.  Will we really trust in Him?  Will we wait patiently before the Lord or crumble and turn to other things?  He’s testing our faith.  Will we really have faith in Him, even when things don’t seem like they will turn out right.  Over and over in the Bible God calls us to wait on Him.  To rest in Him while we wait for the answers to our prayers.

Psalm 27:14 says, “Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!”

Isaiah 30:18 adds, “Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you; And therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; Blessed are all those who wait for Him.”

Will you wait upon the Lord?

3.  God is at work!  Sometimes, even though God appears to be silent, He is orchestrating all the details and everything needed so that your prayer might be answered.  He is busy building your immune system so that you’re ready for your performance tomorrow.  He’s laying it on someone’s heart to offer that word of encouragement that you asked for.  Depending on the nature of your prayer, it may take a little longer for all the details to be worked out.  But the key to remember is that He is at work, even though we can’t always see the visible evidences of His work.

4. God is growing us.  By withholding an answer to our prayer, God is oftentimes teaching and growing us.  He is teaching us not to depend on other things for the answers.  He is teaching us to trust in Him alone.  He is also aligning our desires with His. It is through prayer that our hearts and transformed.  Maybe we don’t yet have the right perspective on an issue (such as winning an speech and debate tournament) so He needs to realign our attitude before He can answer our prayer.

So, even though we might not always see an answer to our prayers right away, remember that one is on the way.  He is working in our lives to give us a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11).  Never give up.  Never lose heart.  Never stop trusting.  As Psalms 37:7 exhorts, “Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him...”

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