This is a topic that has been on my mind for quite some time now.
I can’t say exactly why I haven’t sat down to write the words that have been so heavy on my mind. Perhaps because they need to be said in just the right way, in a way that I might still not be able to put into words. But as its popularity is beginning to grow, I can’t seem to keep silent any longer.
Please remember as you read this though, that this is just an opinion. It’s my opinion, but that doesn’t mean it must be yours. And by no means am I saying that this is the only right opinion. But, I’ll continue and let you form your own opinion on the matter.
“God answered my prayer!”
I do believe this is the most misused sentence I’ve yet to hear. Or rather, “misinterpreted, and underrated,” I should say. But let me explain:
I’ve written the story below to give you an example of what I’m trying to relate.
Kara Evans is only six years old. But that doesn’t stop her from wanting a little sibling more than anything else.
For the last year, (a very long time in a six year old's mind, I should add) Kara has prayed and prayed for a baby brother or sister.
After many months of praying, Kara’s mother and father told her they had a big surprise for her. She was going to be a big sister! Kara was ecstatic! The Lord had answered her prayers!
Kara had to wait a very long time for that sibling to be born. But she wasn’t idle while she waited. During the time she was waiting for her sibling, she prayed with all her might that it would be a baby girl. She perhaps even prayed harder than she ever had before.
The day finally came when Kara’s grandmother came to pick her up. That meant that the baby would be here soon! Kara was so excited that night she could hardly sleep.
The next morning her grandmother handed her the phone. “It’s your father, Kara. He’s going to tell you if you have a baby brother or baby sister!” Kara held the phone to her ear and listened carefully as her father began to speak. It had to be a girl, it just had to be! Kara’s eyes grew wide with excitement as she hung up the phone and ran through the house yelling, “God answered my prayer! He answered my prayer!”
Now if I stopped right there and asked you what the gender of the baby was, what would you say? A girl, right? But what is the right answer?
What? A boy? But, but, you just said the Lord had answered Kara’s prayer!
Yes. I did. And yes, He did, in fact, answer Kara’s prayer, just not in the way she’d prayed for it to be answered. Do you see where I’m going with this?
In my closet, there are two glass jars nestled amongst the books in one of the bookshelves. One jar holds prayers, and the other holds answered prayers.
Very soon after I’d picked up my “prayer jars,” we received the news that a friend of ours was very ill. For many months, his health fluctuated from better to worse. And for many months, prayers for him poured forth from families everywhere. Many slips of paper were dropped into the jar, and many hours were spent praying on his behalf. We prayed for healing, peace, and mercy to be shown to this family; and one night those prayers were answered.
He left his earthly home to join his Father and Creator in Heaven.
That was when I first really started thinking about the saying, “God answered my prayers,” and why we are always so quick to think that the prayers had been answered in the way they’d been asked.
Where do you think the prayers went that I’d written for this man? They went in the answered prayer jar. I must admit though, it took a while before I got the courage to put them there. In my mind, those prayers were still unanswered. But they were answered, just not exactly in the way I’d hoped they would be. But I’d received an answer nevertheless.
I once heard someone say that the Lord answers our prayers with one of three answers; yes, no, or wait. As time goes on I’m beginning to see that to be true.
I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with saying the Lord answered your prayer. I think though that it goes way deeper than just that. I believe the prayers that get a no or wait answer from God, get little to no attention sometimes. When was the last time you thanked God for not answering your prayer? I know, it sounds crazy, believe me, I understand. But has there ever been a time when you’ve just thanked Him for answering a prayer according to His will? We pray that ever familiar saying, “not my will, but Yours be done,” but do we truly thank Him when He actually does it? It’s not too easy, believe me. It seems difficult, if not somewhat cruel, to thank God for taking a loved one’s life, or thanking Him when things don’t work out right. But sometimes saying “thank you” is another way of saying, “I trust You,” or “I believe You know what’s best.”
Just for fun, start thanking the Lord for the prayers that haven’t been answered in the way you’ve asked. It may be hard at first, but it gets easier. And you never know, you might just find yourself thanking Him for every little thing that goes wrong in the day! Because we as humans often can’t see the bigger scope of things. And we know that everything that God allows is for our good in some way or another. We just often times don’t understand why it’s happening. We must remember that everything happens for a purpose and according to His will.
I remember several years ago, when we’d spent ALL day in the kitchen cooking down fresh tomatoes from our garden to make tomato paste. We’d literally spent hours working hard to make sure it wouldn’t scorch, and then we still had to can them afterwards. That afternoon, several pints of tomato paste sat on the counter making all the hard work worth the effort. The next morning though, we woke up to the fact that none of the jars had sealed. Not even one. Needleless to say, we were nothing short of discouraged. Very, very, discouraged. But then I had a thought. Which I then voiced to mama. Maybe there was something terribly wrong with the tomatoes and it would have made us very sick. Maybe this was the Lord’s way of protecting us from that. It was a silly thought, and that probably wasn’t the case at all, but it made the outcome easier to accept. I didn’t know it then, but without even thinking about it I was accepting the Lord’s will for that situation by understanding that it was done for a purpose.
So just try something the next time you run into another discouraging situation; try not only thanking Him, but try to remember that He did it for a purpose. And in the end, He did it for you. And He did it to prosper you, and to give you a future and a hope.