Friday, June 10, 2016

Keep Praying

Often when we think about the stories in the Bible, we think of immediate miracles and quick fixes.  Moses raised his rod, and the Red Sea parted.  Elijah prayed over the widow of Zarephath's son and immediately he came back to life.  Andrew brought the five loaves and two fishes to Jesus, who blessed them, broke them and divided them among the people.  Immediate problems, immediate solutions.

But if we stop and think about it, there's a lot of waiting in the Bible.  Many of those whom we consider being spiritual giants didn't get an immediate answer to their problems.  Abraham waited 25 years after God's promise before receiving a son.  Hannah prayed for years for her child.  Joseph spent years in captivity before God elevated him to a place of honor and recognition.  David spent years running from the king before he could become king himself.  Even Daniel admits to waiting for the Lord to respond to his pleas for the nation of Israel.

In those days I Daniel was mourning three full weeks. - Daniel 10:2

For three weeks, Daniel prayed faithfully (and we're all aware of the praying habits of Daniel).  He fasted.  He pleaded.  But most of all, he waited.  Waiting for an answer from God.  Waiting to hear God's reply.  Finally, after three weeks, a messenger from the Lord arrived, and look what he had to say: Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. (vs. 12)

God heard Daniel's prayer from the very first day, and in fact, he sent His messenger out that day.  But if you read on in the text, you'll see that the messenger was hindered from reaching Daniel until three weeks after his initial request.  It wasn't that God wasn't listening or that He wasn't answering.  It wasn't that He didn't care.  God heard.  He answered.  The reply simply took a little longer getting to Daniel than he would have liked.

I know we've discussed waiting a lot in the past several posts, but currently, it's where my heart is.  I, like Daniel, am waiting for an answer from God, but I've been praying for this situation much longer than three weeks.  Still, this passage about Daniel reminds me of a few
things.

First off, God does hear and answer prayer.  It may not seem like it.  It may not feel like it.  But God will not ignore the requests of His children.  That's not to say that He will always answer in the affirmative, but He will always answer, though sometimes that answer may be delayed, which brings me to my next point.

God could have prevented His messenger from being delayed.  He could have seen to it that the messenger arrived within seconds of Daniel's initial prayer, but He didn't.  He allowed the messenger to be delayed for three weeks, which means He allowed Daniel to wait and wait and wait.

It's what Daniel did during that waiting that impresses me.  He didn't argue with God or complain about God not answering His prayers.  He didn't pout, nor did he throw up his hands and quit.  He kept praying.  Day after day, he took his burden to the Lord, determined to keep asking until God gave Him an answer.  Bold?  Certainly, but isn't that how God commands us to come before His throne? (Hebrews 4:16)  Maybe God simply wanted to see how serious Daniel was in his request.  Maybe He wants to see the same with us.

Perhaps you, too, have been praying for something for a long while, and you feel as if God is not listening.  Maybe you're about ready to give up, thinking What's the use?  Hang in there, dear one.  God is listening, and the answer may already be on its way.  Don't pout or cry or get angry with God. But do keep praying, and don't stop until you have your answer!

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