I was wrestling with the Lord in prayer about a promise He had given me years ago. I had waited for years without seeing it fulfilled, and this was discouraging. On one of those days, I checked on a bamboo plant I’d acquired in desperate condition. When I got it, the stem was dried and broken and the only green to be found were two little leaves. With a little TLC and a lot of miracles, it was now thriving!
As I stared at the plant in amazement, one of my boys came to me and handed me a coloured stone on which we had written ‘God answers prayers’. “Mamma,” he said, “you should keep this stone beside it. This plant was dead but God brought it to life. God does answer prayers.”
Stunned at the wisdom of what he said, I praised God for using my little boy to encourage me. No wonder that God expects us to have childlike faith, trusting Him completely.
Take the life of Abraham. He was 85 years old and childless. But in Genesis 15, God tells him to count the stars in the heavens, promising his offspring would be as many as the stars. Note that God tells him to not just count the stars but adds, “if indeed you can count them” (Genesis 15:5). Now, why did God say that? Was it because of the sheer magnitude of the stars alone?
Reading further, we see in Genesis 15:12 that the sun is only beginning to set. God showed Abraham the sky during the day! Stars are not visible in the daytime, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. In the night, countless stars light up the sky. God was encouraging Abraham to trust His promise of descendants even though he saw no evidence, just as he didn’t see stars in the daytime.
God was encouraging Abraham to trust His promise of descendants even though he saw no evidence
Abraham chose to trust God. “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed… Yet he did not waver in unbelief regarding the promise of God but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God,being fully persuaded that God had power to do what He had promised” (Romans 4:18, 20-21). After another 15 years, when Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was far beyond childbearing age, God did the impossible and fulfilled His promise. He blessed them with Isaac, and from Isaac came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky.
The prophet Elijah was also asked to wait in 1 Kings 18. Israel was suffering under a famine so severe that the land was completely barren and the brooks and streams had dried up. But after three-and-a-half long years, the Lord told Elijah that God was going to send rain on the land.
After he displayed God’s supernatural power against the 450 prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, Elijah bent down to the ground, put his face between his knees and prayed for rain. Then, he instructed his servant to go and look towards the sea to see if there was any sign of rain. His servant replied there was nothing there (v. 43). Elijah sent his servant six times, and six times he returned with the same answer. But the man of God persisted in prayer.
The seventh time, his servant reported that there was a cloud “as small as a man’s fist” rising from the sea (v. 44). That little sign was enough for Elijah to believe that his prayer had been answered and he ran ahead to Jezreel to escape the impending rain! He didn’t doubt — in faith, he already heard the sound of the downpour long before it began (v. 41). Sure enough, the sky soon grew black with clouds and rain fell like a torrent on the dry and barren land — just as the Lord had said it would.
In faith, Elijah already heard the sound of the downpour long before it began
If you have been battling with the Lord for an answer to prayer and are sure your request is in His will, do not be disheartened if you are yet to see a visible answer. Our God cannot lie or change His mind. If He has said it, He will do it, for He keeps His promises even to a thousand generations. He is a God who gives life to the dead and calls “things that are not as though they were” (Romans 4:17).
Even if things take longer than you hoped, trust that God will do them in His perfect time. And until that time, let us have unwavering faith like Abraham, believing that God can do the impossible. Let us persevere in prayer like Elijah until He answers. His delays are not necessarily His denials.
You may ask why we should pray if God answers in His time anyway? Because when we pray, showing ourselves completely dependent on His mercy, believing that He alone can provide for our needs, it pleases God immensely. In turn, He grounds our faith in Him and we glorify Him as we wait in expectation for His answer. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it,the people of old received their commendation” (Hebrews 11:1-2).
May our God, who knows our deepest desires and our innermost needs, help us to glorify Him by walking by faith and not by sight. And at the end of our lives, may we have the same testimony about our God as Joshua before he died: “And you know in your hearts and souls, all of you, that not one word has failed of all the good things that the Lord your God promised concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one of them has failed” (Joshua 23:14.)
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