As frequently happens, I was inspired today by my devotionals for the last few days. The scripture passage they have been based on is Matthew 7:7-11. Jesus speaking in a couple of those verses said this:
“‘Ask and keep on asking and it will be given to you; seek and keep on seeking and you will find; knock and keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who keeps on asking receives, and he who keeps on seeking finds, and to him who keeps on knocking, it will be opened.’” Matthew 7:8-9 AMP [Bold emphasis mine]
Some people might think that continuing to ask over and over for something would show a lack of faith – but that does not seem to be what the Bible tells us. In fact, I believe that having to wait to see our answers arrive will build our faith. “It is when the answer to prayer does not come…that the trial of faith, more precious than gold, takes place.”*
The phrase “and keep on” would seem to indicate that we need to stay persistent. There is no place in the Word of God where we are promised that asking one time for something will result in an answered prayer; but, there are many verses that indicate we need to be persistent.
There may be some people that will say their prayer was answered in part or in a different way than they had asked and so they doubt that the persistence paid off. But God knows better than we do what is best and the answers will come based on His wisdom – not ours. Sometimes the answer is “no” and sometimes it is “wait, not yet” – and we must be assured that there is a reason for those particular answers.
If every time we prayed the answers we were seeking came immediately, we likely would become complacent about God and the testimony we could have as the result of answered prayer; and, we would likely get to the point we would neglect to be grateful and give thanks for those answers. “An unfortunate side of human nature is that we are forgetful recipients of good things.” **
For those of you that are parents, think about it – when your child asks you for something, is your answer always “yes”? Or, do you give them what they ask for immediately? Children that are pampered by parents with constant “yeses” and immediate responses end up being spoiled, irresponsible, ungrateful adults. If God’s responses to our requests were constantly yes and immediate then we would become spoiled, irresponsible, ungrateful Christians.
I believe that if there are times when we are persistently praying for something and not receiving an answer, we should question it. Maybe it is something that is not within the will of God. Or, maybe the basics and the generalities of the request are fine but some of the specifics added to it are not okay. In these cases we need to be willing to adjust what we are asking for and then see if things start to happen. “The Lord seems constantly to use waiting as a tool for bringing us the very best of His gifts.” ***
“We might think we are being punished by His silence. We are not. We are being rewarded. He is drawing us closer to Him, saying, ‘Come nearer, learn from Me, know Me as your Strength, your Defender, your Refuge.’ Keep praying This is a far greater blessing than an immediate answer.”**
As I read those Bible verses for three days in a row and the devotionals that went with them, I thought about my prayer life. I thought about how every morning when I pray I always start with praising and thanking God for all of my lifelong blessings and answered prayers. He has had His hand on me for my entire life and has protected me from myself and bad decisions that I have made – even when I strayed from Him. Sometimes I did have some natural consequences to suffer through, but other times He was so gracious to me that I was saved from what could have been negative results.
I also thought about some of the wonderful answers to prayer from the past couple of years in particular and I am SO grateful. He has blessed family and friends with healings and guidance in important decisions and has changed lives.
Then I thought about some of the things that I fervently lift up to Him daily that I have seen no results for in such a very long time of asking. What does He know that I do not? I guess that I should start asking Him THAT question and looking for the answer to THAT prayer. It does not seem to me that any of the requests could be so off base that they would not be within His will – maybe it is just timing?
After those deep thoughts, I realized that I rarely have a request for myself – it is usually just the praise and thanksgiving, because my life is good. Do not get me wrong, it is not perfect, but it is good enough that I am happy and living my best life right now. My requests are for the specific needs of others and the circumstances in our world today. I am grateful for that lopsided prayer list and will not take it for granted, not even for a second.
So how about your prayer life? Are you faithful to pray daily? Do you praise and thank Him for all of the blessings in your life? Do you sincerely seek answers for the needs others in your life have? Do you persist with the requests that you are confident will yield answers that are within His will? Just remember – you need to keep on. Do not get discouraged, do not give up.
I believe that if we are realistic and grateful and take a good hard look at our lives, we could all proclaim that life is good.
Written by Karran Martin – August 20, 2022
* Andrew Murray