Authored by Mary Lucas
Read: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Sometimes when we pray God gives us exactly what we ask for. Sometimes he gives us what we ask for, but we have to wait a while to see that prayer answered. Sometimes he does not seem to answer our prayers at all. The Bible tells us that God hears our prayers (for example, 1 Peter 3:12 “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer”) so why doesn’t he give us what we ask for? Why do our prayers seem to go unanswered sometimes? I once heard a saying that stuck with me. It goes like this:
When the request is not right, God says “No”.
When the timing is not right, God says “Slow”.
When you are not right, God says “Grow”.
But when the request is right and the timing is right and you are right, God says “Go”.
Let us see what the bible says about each one of these phrases.
When God says “no”, I try to remember that it is because he has a better “yes” in store. “We know that
“In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). If God is good and His plans are for my good, then I can trust Him that he says “no” for a reason and that He has something better in store. It is good to remember Isaiah 55:8-9 as well: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
When God says “slow” remember that God has perfect timing, never early, never late. A man named Lazarus was very sick and Jesus got word about this. Much to his disciples’ astonishment, instead of rushing right away to his friend Lazarus, he leaves two days later. By then Lazarus was dead and decaying for four days in a tomb. His sisters Mary and Martha had prayed and when Jesus came, they said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” But Jesus then raised that dead body from the grave. Perhaps he delayed because he wanted to increase the faith of His disciples who after His death would be the ones taking the message of Christ to the world. The disciples knew Jesus had the power to heal people — but to raise a 4-day old corpse? That is taking faith to a whole new level!
When God says “grow” it may be that there is some characteristic in us that He wants to develop. We may pray for a difficult situation to resolve or a trial to end but Romans 5 talks about what suffering and trials does to us. “We know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Perhaps God does not answer because His plan is for us to develop characteristics that are desirable for a follower of Jesus…. patience, steadfastness, compassion, etc.
God does say “go” sometimes. The answer we often say in response to these answered prayers is “God is good!” The other half of that expression is “God is good…. all the time. All the time…. God is good”. God is good because that is His character. He is good all the time…. when the answer is no, when the answer is slow, when the answer is grow and when the answer is go. When God does not answer the way, you want or is slow to answer, trust that He is good, that God loves you and that He desires what is best for you, more than we could ever ask or imagine!