When you’re praying for your family, it’s so easy to grow impatient. What if something happens to them before they find the Lord? Maybe someone is sick, and it seems obvious to you that God has to intervene now. But God’s clocks keep perfect time. “God time” is not to be confused with “people time.”
Think about old Zechariah. One day when he was very old, he was in the Temple praying for the people (Luke 1:8-9). Suddenly an angel appeared and said, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard” (Luke 1:13). For a moment I can see the old man casting around in his mind, desperately trying to make sense out of it. Which prayer? The one he had just prayed for Israel? Then the angel made it clear. “Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son” (v. 13). Oh, that prayer! I can imagine Zechariah secretly thinking, Your timing is awful, Lord. But God’s clocks keep perfect time, and John was born in the fullness of time and for the purposes of God.
We need to realize that none of our prayers fall to the ground. I believe that every prayer we ever pray hangs, as it were, in space, until God answers it according to His eternal purposes. We may not see it answered, or like the old priest, we may be very old before we do, but we can have faith that one day our mountain will “go jump in the lake” (Mark 11:23, The Message). I have been learning to watch for the answers to my “old” prayers, rather than demand answers to my “new” ones.
One day our eldest son walked in a deep valley of sorrow. It was a bitter place to be. He serves on the staff of our church, and there was much support for him and many prayers. As parents of an adult child, all Stuart and I could do was watch and pray. It’s a difficult thing to bear private grief publicly, but David bore his grief with dignity and grace. One day as we were sharing our hearts together, I was reminded of a little boy kneeling by the side of his bed saying his prayers. He was six years of age at the time, and I remember stopping as I passed his door and being struck with the picture. I also remembered what I prayed in that moment of time. I prayed, not realizing the significance of my words, “Lord, make this child a man of dignity and integrity.” Then I had added, “whatever it takes.”
That day as we talked, I recognized the answer to my “old” prayer. It had taken sorrow to answer my prayer, but it had been answered, and I murmured under my breath, “Oh, I see, Lord, this is that answer,” and I worshiped.
It’s hard to pray a prayer for one of your loved ones that starts with “Whatever it takes, Lord,” but if you can manage it, God will handle it tenderly for you and help you to handle it too. So when God answers a past prayer in the present, praise Him for it however hard it is, and one day He will answer your present prayer in your future, you’ll see.
In His Love,
Just Between Us Magazine