The other day my spiritual director, also religious sister, shared with me that there was a time in her life when she prayed really hard for something and God answered her prayer, but it took 8 years. It’s God’s timing she said, not ours. This statement jarred my memory to a time when I too, prayed really hard for something. I was submerged in a situation I had no control over, and it was detrimental to me, and my family’s well-being. I sought all the proper channels for help, and hit obstacles at every turn. It appeared that I was in a no win situation. I decided to do two things; I had my family pray with me for the situation to change every single solitary day. Secondly, I did not give up on the “proper channels”, and I began a crusade against this strong force. It was a battle that took years, but in the end, I accomplished the seemingly impossible. I changed a state law. It was such an incredible defeat that an agent from the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) contacted me to congratulate me. This was something he thought was impossible for me to achieve, especially without a lawyer and a lot of money. It turned out that God had answered our prayers in detail, but it took about eight years as well.
Now I’m sure it’s a coincidence this eight year mark for me and sister, but the inspiration I derived from our situations is this. How often are we on the verge of getting our prayers answered, and we get tired of waiting and give up? How often do the whispers of discouragement ring in our ears making our waiting seem futile? Better yet, how often do we give up on the situation before praying for God to do something about it?
The Israelite’s waited forty years before they entered the Promised Land. Elizabeth and Sarah waited until old age before they had a child. It’s when things seem utterly impossible that God changes the situation to possible. Writer Fr. Henri Nouwen has this to say about spiritual waiting, “Those who are waiting in the Scriptures are waiting very actively. They know that what they are waiting for is growing from the ground on which they are standing. That’s the secret. The secret of waiting is the faith that the seed has been planted, that something has begun. Active waiting means to be present fully to the moment, in the conviction that something is happening.” This reminds me of St. Monica who prayed years for her son St. Augustine’s conversion. She didn’t just pray, she followed him around wherever he went waiting for him to change…… and he did.
Motivational speaker and pastor, Joel Osteen, in his book “I Declare” says this, “You have to have a “never say die” attitude. If you can’t get in the door try the window. If you can’t get through the window go through the roof? That is what a man in scripture did. He said to his friends, “ I’ve got an idea. Take me up on the roof, cut a hole in it and lower me down so I can be in front of Jesus.” Where there is a will there is a way. They lowered this paralyzed man down on his bed all curled up, and put him right in front of Jesus. The scripture in Mark 2:5 begins. “When Jesus saw their faith….” Do you have faith that God can see? It’s not enough to just pray. Like this man you have to do something to demonstrate your faith. There were others in the room that needed healing too, but they weren’t The difference is this man put action behind his faith. It’s one thing to pray it’s another to believe.”
If we want our prayers answered we have to check our faith barometer. Are we praying and preparing in expectation of our prayers being answered? Like words they mean nothing without actions behind them. Still yet, there are the unfortunate times that God’s answer is no, and it’s in the waiting that we hear his no. It’s those times we must realize that God has something better waiting for us, that is beyond our comprehension and we must trust.