Perhaps one of the most frustrating aspects of prayer is when the Lord answers, “Wait.”
We’ve all experienced that waiting time. Personally, I’m quite ready for my prayers to be answered the day and even the moment I ask. I’ve prayed for a good friend for more than 25 years to receive the Lord. Daily, I’ve asked that He bless and help her. Recently, I paid her a visit and learned that she had received the Lord as her Savior.
I must admit that rather than being overjoyed, my reaction was much more subdued. I quizzed the Lord about my emotionless reaction. In my spirit I felt His response, “If I’d done the work more quickly, you would’ve wanted to take credit. I wanted you to realize that I’m the Savior of her soul, not your prayers.” Understand this wasn’t a rebuke from the Lord but a simple statement of fact.
The New Testament records an interesting verse. Yet when He heard that Lazarus was sick, He stayed where He was two more days (John 11:6).
Jesus had received a plea for help from his best friends, Mary and Martha. Their brother, Lazarus was dying. Jesus didn’t rush to his bedside to comfort and heal. He waited. Oz Hillman wrote,
God often has to delay His work in us in order to accomplish something for His purposes that can be achieved only in the delay. Jesus had to let Lazarus die in order for the miracle that was about to take place to have its full effect. If Jesus had simply healed a sick man, the impact of the miracle would not have been as newsworthy as resurrecting a man who had been dead for four days. This is Jesus’ greatest “public relations act” of His whole ministry. What many do not realize is that the key to the whole story is in the next chapter.
Many people, because they had heard that He had given this miraculous sign, went out to meet Him. So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after Him!” (John 12:18-19)
The Lord was setting the stage for Jesus’ death and resurrection. It was only after this great miracle that the Pharisees began to see that the only path to the elimination of Jesus’ influence was his death. From that moment they purposed in their spirits to destroy Jesus.
Months ago, I shared with a young pastor who had been elected to an important office some on the things that I’d learned while serving in a similar position. He reaction was rejection of my ideas. Then, last week, we again sat at a meeting. He shared his discouragement and the lack of success he had experienced in his ministry over the past two or three years. Another more experienced pastor quietly shared what I’d proposed a year ago. The young pastor heard and adopted the plan
After the meeting, the older pastor came to me and whispered, “You said that a year ago; but he couldn’t hear it then. He had to learn the hard way.” Then the seasoned minister grinned, “We all have to learn the hard way–our way.”
Delays aren’t merely part of God’s great plan for eternity. They are also part of his plan for our lives. Perhaps the hardest to receive–yet most profitable–answer God can give us to our prayers is “wait.”