“Now I lay me down to sleep”…for many of us this simple line was the beginning of our prayer life, our direct communication to God, trusting Him with the most precious commodity we have, our life.
From the early stages of childhood prayers that consisted of simple, yet meaningful words, those prayers turned into other requests revolving around that same precious commodity.
These prayers awaited answers and a reassurance that everything we have requested would be answered and fulfilled to meet our expectations.
But what happens when the words you’ve uttered in prayer seem to have dissipated into thin air with no reply? What if the cries of your heart have gone unheard or furthermore were heard but weren’t valid enough for even a reply, much less a favorable outcome?
When we pray, we know we are to pray in faith. According to Hebrews 11:1, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of what we cannot see”.
Each of us has desires in our heart that we believe God for, all of which will require us to activate our faith. Faith is much like a muscle, we are given a measure of it but for it to grow and develop it must be worked out and stretched. Our faith is tested as we continue to trust God even when we don’t see progress, change or manifestation for what we believe Him for.
When you don’t see your desires come to pass your heart can become overwhelmed and your faith weakened. You can lose sight of the promise and literally become heart sick. (Proverbs 12:13 states that “Hope deferred makes the heart sick but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”)
I had a dear friend of mine once ask me to stand in faith with her for a baby. She and her husband had experienced complications with fertility and it was weighing greatly on their marriage and discouraging her faith. We prayed, we believed, and months later she discovered her prayer had been answered, she was pregnant! We celebrated and rejoiced at the fulfillment of her heart’s desire. All was well until weeks later the unexpected happened. The promise, the dream and the unborn child had died.
She came back to me with devastation in her voice and heart wrenching anguish in her eyes. She believed and yet her faith had failed, or so it seemed. I’m not sure which is more painful a seemingly unanswered prayer, or holding the promise only to have it slip away from your grip.
All I could do in that moment was cry with her and mourn another pain, her shattered faith. I remember looking at her and asking her to continue to trust God one more time. What she did not know was that during that same time I was grieving my own unanswered prayer. My faith during that same season had also been shaken by not seeing the manifestation of a prayer I had believed God for years to bring to pass. As I’m telling her to trust God one more time, I felt Him requesting the same of me.
It seemed as though everyone around me was experiencing their blessings to the fullest and some of which I knew weren’t living life wholeheartedly for God and yet their prayers were answered. Here I was doing my best to serve God and serve others and yet I felt like I was being punished. I began to question if there was a particular “formula” or blueprint to be followed perfectly for the code to be cracked to an open heaven and desires to be fulfilled.
In that moment hearing my friend’s heartache while struggling to encourage her in my own time of need, I melted on the inside knowing that faith believes NO MATTER what it sees in the natural. I had allowed my eyes to compare someone else’s perceived blessings with my unmet expectations. I was wrong for not trusting God and for judging someone else’s walk compared to the blessings in their life.
God is good. He is faithful and He is just. Faith arises when we make a choice to move beyond what we see and what we feel and we continue to set our face toward the prize and stand on His Word! Faith says if I never see it with my natural eyes, it does not make God’s word untrue or His character flawed. We may never know the reasons for delay in promises we’re believing for or unanswered prayer but we must trust that no matter what, God is sovereign and Father knows best!
Can I tell you that while I was crying my eyes out with my friend over her loss and my own pain, what I did not realize is that God had answered my prayer but because it didn’t show up the way I was expecting it to, I didn’t recognize it? I had put a demand on how God should bless my life not knowing I was bypassing the gift He sent my way.
Just this past year I visited my sweet friend and as I held her newborn baby in my arms I fought back the tears as I was literally holding a miracle. That decision for her to believe ONE MORE TIME led her to the blessing of a baby boy. Faith perseveres it does not give up. I cuddled this sweet baby and all the while I thought of my own life and how God is so faithful and His word CAN BE TRUSTED!
In your waiting season I’d like to encourage you in the following lessons I have learned and continue to rehearse as I go through life’s journey:
Know that your faith walk is personal
Just because God worked in someone else’s life a particular way does not mean the same method will apply to you. He knows you better than anyone and if He’s not yet provided what you’re requesting, trust that He has something greater and He desires HIS BEST for your life.
Your words are a weapon
Find scriptures that support what you believe God for. If you can’t find anything in the word of God to support your request, reevaluate the motives of your heart. But as you bring your petitions to God search the scriptures to align your faith with. The word of God is living and active, it cultivates faith and serves as a weapon against doubt and unbelief.
Be careful who you share your requests with
Not everyone can handle the greatness of your dreams. If you’re standing in faith for something, it should be protected. Don’t allow someone else’s doubt to diminish your faith and cause you to second guess what you’re believing for!
God can handle your emotions
Although we are not moved by what we feel, I believe that God can handle our raw emotions. If we are mad, hurt, disappointed or weary, we can take that to the Father and ask Him to walk us through the waiting season!
Know that God is for you
My mentor once stated a well-known quote that I’ve held on to in my times of discouragement. He said, “Even when you can’t trace God’s hand, you can ALWAYS trust His heart.” There are things that will happen in life that won’t make sense but you have to know that God is for you and He does not play games. I always tell my friends God does not tease and He won’t dangle a promise in front of you to see how high you’ll jump.
In closing, I’d like to encourage you with these final thoughts:
Psalms 27:14 New Living Translation
“Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD.”
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”