When Delayed Answers to Prayers Impact your Faith
I love to journal my prayers. There are lots of benefits to taking the time to physically write down our prayers and surrender them to God. One is simply that our brains are wired to benefit from writing things down, when we don't feel like praying hand copying scripture is an easy alternative.
Journaling prayers keeps my wandering mind focused on the task at hand (literally). Instead of letting my thoughts run wild, I'm focused on writing out sentences that make sense to form an intentional prayer.
But my favorite benefit is this: I have unintentionally created a record of God's faithfulness and provision in my life. I have a paper trail to prove God answers prayers.
Now, you might read this and think, "Wow! That's incredible, God is so faithful!" And completely relate. Or, you might read this with an internal sigh and think to yourself, what about me, God?
When waiting on an unanswered prayer we have two options; believe that God is faithful and He is in motion, or trade hope for disappointment and take a delayed answer to mean more than it does.
Daniel is a well known example of a delayed prayer and has become a model of what to do when your answer to prayer is delayed. An angel visits Daniel and explains,
"Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia" (Daniel 10:12-13 NIV).
Daniel didn't get his answer in the time frame he wanted, but he did get an angelic visit to explain what the delay was about. I can't help but wish we always received the same!
Instead, we have access to the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 2:18 MSG) and instead of looking at our lack of answers with confusion and frustration, we can turn the Spirit of God and simply ask, what's the delay?
Maybe the Spirit will speak to you in a clear and specific way (Matthew 10:20) or maybe the still small voice of God will remind you of a certain truth (1 Kings 19:20).
Either way, in any situation, we can know that the same truth in Daniel is true for us today; your words were heard.
Throughout the Bible we read that our prayers are heard by God. There is a theological reality that our prayers are heard due to the Spirit's intercession on our behalf (Romans 8:26 NIV). When we start to feel like our prayers aren't being answered, the result is often assuming that they also aren't heard. This is so far from the truth!
The enemy was hard at work to delay Daniel's answer to prayer through spiritual resistance, and I think he is hard at work to delay yours. The impact an unanswered prayer can have on our faith is huge.
Our choice is to get discouraged and give up, or keep praying in faith.
Daniel's example was one of faith; he continued in prayer and fasting. Then, he received his answer after three weeks of praying and fasting.
I imagine in that moment there was relief that his prayer was heard and excitement over the explanation.
We don't always know why our answers to prayer are delayed, but we can always be assured God heard us.
This is why I love revisiting my old prayer journals. Months or even years later, I'll return to a journal and read over the prayers it held. Some I've forgotten about, and some I'm still praying for.
Often, I'll open up to a page from years before and I can sense the anxiousness and discouragement I felt at the time. I'll close the journal, looking up and realizing I'm living in that answered prayer today. I can feel my faith building as I realize the prayers I prayed years ago were heard, and answered, even if it didn't happen in the timing I expected.
Today I want to ask you to write down two things:
Write down a specific, clear prayer that you want an answer to, and write down the date.
Then, write down at least one or more answered prayers that you're living in today.
Remind yourself that God has heard you, and even if an answer you're waiting on is delayed, He is on His way.