By Kevin Guigou
The Christian is a beautiful interweaving of the instantaneous and the ongoing; an inspired blend of things that are miraculous and things that are continuous.
Some of God’s blessings come to us in a moment of time; other blessings come over a period of time, maybe even a lifetime. By understanding the balance of these sacred realities, we can overcome the impatience, frustration, and anxiety that can challenge our prayer lives.
Even though our current reality may be in that middle, interweaving between our prayer and God’s victory, we can still know that He is faithful to hear us and faithful to answer.
Some Answers Are Immediate
Confident children tend to make requests to loving parents with fearless anticipation. God’s children should also pray with the radical expectation that results are coming right away.
If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” Matthew 21:22 NIV
If our motives are right (James 4:3), why shouldn’t we ask the Father for our prayers to be answered as we speak? God’s love toward us is spectacular! Our requests should be as outlandish as his love!
Mark’s gospel is known for getting right to the point. One example is its use of the word “immediately.”
“Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.” Mark 1:42 NASB
“Immediately the flow of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. … Immediately the girl got up and began to walk, for she was twelve years old. And immediately they were completely astounded.” Mark 5:29, 42 NASB
“And Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and began following Him on the road.” Mark 10:52 NASB
Some Answers Take Time
Some supplications to God require patient endurance. At times, to understand certain upheaval in our lives requires a season of intimate, persevering conversation with Him. The timeframe of prayer is “until it comes to pass.”
It’s possible for God to tell us when an answer will come, but often we don’t know whether or not a petition will be answered promptly. Either way, we’re prepared to ask for immediate results and also to “pray without ceasing” about any issue (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
If a request to God entails additional time, then we should be like the manure-covered little boy, shoveling through a barn, who kept shouting with anticipation, “There MUST be a pony in here somewhere!”
Lord, teach us how to actively maintain a peaceful and powerful expectation in our prayers, without impatience, frustration or anxiety over the long haul.
During a 25-year career as an architect, I spent plenty of time on messy job sites while a project was in many months of being built. During those experiences, I felt the Lord was teaching me not to be impatient or discouraged while the designed vision was gradually being assembled.
Our lives are also “Under Construction.” And a faithful life of prayer, over time, carries us through to maturity and completion.
The Gospel of Luke describes Jesus instructing his disciples how to pray (Luke 11:1-4). In the very next verses, Jesus tells a parable where prayer was answered because of “shameless persistence and insistence” (Amplified Bible – Classic).
Using strong language, Jesus said that the man’s sheer brash impudence brought his answer to prayer! This is how the Lord taught his followers how to pray!
Only then in that chapter do we come to the familiar commands, “Ask (and keep on asking), seek (and keep on seeking), knock (and keep on knocking)…”
“So it is with your prayers. Ask and you’ll receive. Seek and you’ll discover. Knock on heaven’s door, and it will one day open for you. Every persistent person will get what he asks for. Every persistent seeker will discover what he needs. And everyone who knocks persistently will one day find an open door.” Luke 11:9 The Passion
In prayer, let’s press in! Needing to continue in prayer about something doesn’t mean that we lack faith (trust) in God or are outside of His will.
To the contrary, tenacious petitioning exhibits our faith! We go to God with every burden and challenge until they are lifted. We faithfully lay our questions and confusion on the altar of the Father’s heart.
Luke 18:1 reminds us that we “ought always to pray and not lose heart.” The next verses continue by telling of Jesus’s parable in which he taught about prayer requiring persistence in “crying out to God night and day” (Luke 18:2-8).
In his heavy sorrow before his death, Jesus persisted in prayer three times that his Father would “take this cup away” from him (Matthew 26:36-44).
And the Apostle Paul also cried out to the Lord Jesus three times to remove his thorn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12:7-9). Epaphras was constantly “wrestling in his prayers” on behalf of the believers in Colosse (Colossians 4:12).
It’s obvious to us that we rely on the power of the Holy Spirit and the name of Jesus Christ when confronting demons or combating disease. But God also gave us that same supernatural muscle to energize our prayers with endurance, faithfulness and resolve over the long haul (Colossians 1:11).
Different Answers, Same God
Some answers to prayers (or claims for healing) come immediately; others require persistence. Both are godly and require faith. Both are accomplished by spiritual might and revelatory direction.
Those answers that arrive quickly are exciting reminders of God’s sovereign power. Prayers that take time cultivate a deeper relationship of intimacy between the believer and our beloved Provider.