Saturday, May 03, 2008

Unanswered Prayer

Have you ever pondered why people have periods of time when they don't pray? For myself, the times when I don't pray much are times that I feel things are going well in my life. And the times that I pray the hardest are when I was most desperate. Times when I knew I couldn't see a way through on my own and needed God to intervene where I was otherwise powerless. When I surrender to God in my helplessness is when I often have seen the power of the Holy Spirit intervene in my life to move me forward.

But what happens when we don’t perceive God’s answers to our prayers?

As I write this, I can’t help but think of a couple who are "just meant for each other" after their first date. They hit it off, have a great time, and at the end of the evening he promises to call her.

A day or so later, he does call, believing that she is "the one", and hoping that the relationship will progress. But for whatever reason she doesn’t get the call – not home at the time, doesn’t get the message, she didn’t pay the phone bill, whatever the case may be. The woman becomes disappointed. Maybe he’s been busy. She’ll wait a little longer.

He tries sending a note. The envelope is non-descript, and she mistakes it for junk mail.

He tries to call again. Visits her home. Looks for her in places she frequents, hoping to connect with her. But they just don’t connect.

She believes that this guy wasn’t so great after all. Maybe even starts to believe that he is a jerk, like so many before him.

What she doesn’t understand is that her date did keep his promise. She just didn’t see the evidence of it.

Aren’t we like that when we don’t see God’s answers to our prayers? We miss the evidence that He gives us. We pray for healthy living, all the while reaching for another piece of chocolate cake instead of the fruit salad. We pray for our finances to be better, hoping that we’ll have a windfall of cash, yet delete the email with tips on budgeting what we have. We ask for resolution in a relationship, hoping our mate will change, and write off the radio talk show host that gave spot-on advice to the caller who seemed to know our story all too well.

God answers our prayers, even when it’s not what we expect. His will is to connect with us, to move our relationship with Him forward. It’s no big mystery … He DOES pursue us relentlessly. We just seem to get in the way. We don’t always see the ways He answers our prayers, our longings, our cries of desperation. And in some cases, we may even believe that He doesn’t even care about us.

But He does.

Listen! The Lord’s arm is not too weak to save you,
nor is his ear too deaf to hear you call.
It’s your sins that have cut you off from God.- Isaiah 59:1-2

Our sin caused a huge gap between us and God, and it's a gap that we cannot bridge on our own. But God loves us too much to be separated from us. So He gave us Jesus, who by his death paid the price for our sins, to fill in that gap between us and God, a gap that only he could fill. The break is repaired so that we can embrace the One who lovingly pursued us all along.

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