Written by Carol Chan. Artwork by Katherine Yao.
We live in a world of instant gratification. We can get instant food from microwave meals. There is instant communication with text messages and instant information from a click on the internet.
Instant gratification can easily transfer into our spiritual lives. How often have you prayed and expected God to say yes immediately? When I first became a Christian, I was passionate about praying for my dad’s salvation. I prayed fervently and I expected God to answer quickly because it was on God’s heart to save my dad. Years went by and nothing changed. My dad continued to mock me for being a Christian, and I was deeply hurt. I was discouraged and felt hopeless at times. Yet there was always that still small voice from the Holy Spirit that urged me to keep on praying for my dad. My prayers went from “Lord, break my father’s stubborn heart and help him to see that you are real.” to “Lord, help me to love my father with your unconditional love and let him see Christ in me.” My position of prayer went from judgment to a position of humility and love for my father. God changed MY heart during those years of persevering prayers.
Perhaps you have prayed asking God to intervene in a difficult situation: healing for a sick person, job opportunities, financial provision, and God seemed silent. Mary and Martha from John 11:1-16 surely felt that way when they asked Jesus to come and see their brother, Lazarus, when he was sick. Yet Jesus “waited” two more days; by then Lazarus was dead. Like Mary and Martha, we have the tendency to interpret God’s waiting as God’s denial. We say, “He doesn’t care about me.” Or “Why pray? Prayer doesn’t work.” However, I believe Jesus waited to respond to Mary and Martha’s request not because He didn’t care for them but because He loved them and knew that the waiting would only make their faith stronger. Jesus was doing a work on their heart condition in the same way that God works on our hearts when we wait on Him in prayer. God changed my heart for my dad through years of praying for him. It changed from a bitter, unforgiving heart to a heart filled with love and compassion. What is God doing in your heart today as you wait on him?
1. Recall a time when you felt that God denied your prayer but ended up responding to your prayer in his timing. What did you learn from this experience?
2. What do you think God might be seeking to change in your heart as you pray today?