I realize the power of prayer and the importance of praying for others. Yet sometimes I have these pesky doubts sprouting up in the garden of my mind, like weeds. Unless I pull out the root of the problem, they will continue to grow and return.
Recently, I prayed for my granddaughter’s healing. I also used common sense, having her sleep and take it easy all day. But then in the morning, her cough continued. It got progressively worse on our walk. Later in the day, she even had to break from an aggressive game of hide-n-seek to give her lungs a rest.
I found myself wondering; I know God is a miracle-working God, so why is she not healed? I know that God heals the sick, so why is she still coughing? I know that God says, ask and you shall receive (Luke 11) so why has my prayer not been heard? I want a miracle now. I know it’s within God’s power. Her lungs could become instantly made perfect in a simple command.
So knowing He can do this, why doesn’t He?
I reason that either:
a) God didn’t hear my prayer,
b) He heard my prayer and ignored it,
c) He heard my prayer and answered, Yes later, or
d) He heard my prayer and answered, No.
a) He didn’t hear my prayer
I know God hears my prayers, based on scripture and my own experiences. There are lots of passages in the Bible to back up the fact that God does hear us.
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us” (1 John 5:14).
My own experiences even include God hearing my inner, unspoken prayers. I have prayed for safety while driving in dangerous storms, and He answered my prayer. I have prayed for help and He answered immediately. Actually, I could fill this page and the next with prayers answered, both verbally expressed and those silently directed to God, as proof that He does hear my prayers.
b) He heard my prayer and ignored it
Given that God hears my prayer, He can either respond, Yes or No. Considering that nothing is impossible for God (Luke 18) and He is a just and loving God, there is no reason for Him to ignore me. He calls to me every day. Since He wants to communicate with me, it would be against His very nature to ignore me. He is merciful and kind, forgiving and gentle. If anything, He wants a relationship with me and so He would not ignore me.
“For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer” (1 Peter 3:12).
c) He heard my prayer and answered, Yes later
I know that God hears my prayers. I know by His very nature He would not ignore my prayers (2 Chronicles 7). So He may be saying, Yes later. God knows the past, the present, and the future. He lives in eternity. He knows what is best for me and when. His timing is perfect and I must learn to accept this. I must lift my prayer to Him and then settle back knowing that He is in full control.
It’s just a matter of patience.
“We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised” (Hebrews 6:12).
Like the time I had to wait for my house to sell. I knew God heard my prayer to sell. I knew He was not ignoring me. I just had to wait in His perfect timing. And lo and behold, it was perfect as it allowed us time to find the home in which to settle.
But what if God’s answer is No?
d) He heard my prayer and answered, No
This has been my experience in the past. I prayed for a specific outcome, yet when the decision was made, my request was denied. I felt crushed and betrayed. Little did I know at the time that God had a much better plan. God is not a malicious, vengeful God. No, He is loving and kind.
“The LORD is faithful to all His promises and loving toward all He has made” (Psalm 145:13).
What ended up happening in that situation was a very different, much better outcome. Something that had not entered my mind. I had limited my prayer to my own finite wisdom and understanding of the situation at that moment in time. God has infinite wisdom. He knows the hearts of people. And although He said No to my prayer, it was only because He had something better in mind.
I am reminded that there are many ways God enriches our lives through trials and suffering; things we could not have learned without going through those troubles.
My prayer for my granddaughter’s health has been heard. I can rest in the knowledge that God is not ignoring my pleas.
I also find peace knowing that God will answer my prayer within His perfect timing, and if He has a better way or more favorable outcome, He will respond accordingly.
I can relax knowing that I have laid my prayer at His feet; I can rest knowing that He loves me and is taking care of me.
“The LORD has heard my cry for mercy; the LORD accepts my prayer” (Psalm 6:9).