Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. (Romans 12:12, emphasis added)
If we’re being honest with ourselves, oftentimes when we pray, we want God to say “yes” to our prayers. Who wouldn’t want to get what they asked for, right? But we know that our heavenly Father is not a genie in a bottle who is going to grant all our wishes and desires. However, it is important to know that our prayers to God never go unanswered; they just may not be answered in the way we may hope.
God will answer our prayers and do so in one of three ways: yes, no, or wait.
For me, personally, the latter response is the least desired of all the responses. I would prefer a straightforward answer of yes or no. Don’t we all? But, of course, my current “big” prayer is being answered with the response of wait. Whether it’s waiting on the next house, the proposal, the next big career break, a new addition to the family, or Christmas, we’ve all had seasons of waiting.
I’ve asked God several times if He is sure the answer is “wait” (because who enjoys being patient and waiting for something), and He continually tells me to wait. And I can’t help but wonder if after all my waiting, what if He answers with no. And yet, in God’s goodness, I am then reminded that I can’t play the “what if” game and am pointed to scripture. James 1:6 says, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.” I can’t let my doubts so easily waver my heart, soul, and mind. I must trust and not doubt. Why? Because God is good. He has my best interests at heart. He is all-knowing. He knows what is best for me. Even though my sinful self wants the answer right now, and selfishly wants the answer to be “yes” in the end. I must continue to believe that no matter how God answers my prayer, He is still good. Even though. Even still. Even if.
While in the waiting, God has continually led me to the book of James, specifically chapter 5.
“Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.”
Elijah prayed fervently – earnestly, enthusiastically, diligently, vigorously. Am I praying with this same zeal that Elijah prayed? All while being patient?
A quick Google search for a definition of patience yielded the following: “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.” Accept delay? Without getting angry? Patience is not an easy quality to possess, especially with hearts bent to sin. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…” (Galatians 5:22-23, emphasis added) And, as someone who has the Spirit inside me, I want to bear this fruit and have patience as I continue to pray and seek the Lord. Asking Him to align my desires to His will.
So, here I am. Waiting. For an unknown amount of time. For an unknown final answer. Yet, as Romans 12:12 says, I will remain constant in prayer as I am patiently waiting.