God does answer prayer but one of the things I’ve learnt over time is that He doesn’t always repeat what He has done before or how we might expect. He will often answer quite differently from what we have experienced previously and just because we can’t physically see something happening, does not mean that there is nothing happening, so it pays to keep believing.
Sometimes the answer is instantly obvious, such as when Jesus and his disciples found themselves in the middle of a furious storm. Jesus stood up and spoke to the wind and the waves and they died down and were completely calm.
“A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher don’t you care if we drown?”
He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. (Mark 4:37-40)
However other times when Jesus spoke into a situation nothing visibly seemed to change. An example is when Jesus and his disciples were walking along the road and Jesus was hungry and came to a fig tree that had no fruit. He spoke to the fig tree and said, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again”. The fig tree however didn’t suddenly shrivel up instantly before Jesus and his disciple’s eyes. No! Nothing visibly looked like it had changed; yet on returning the next morning along “that road again they all saw the fig tree had withered from the roots. “Peter remembered and said to Jesus “Rabbi, look! The tree you cursed has withered!” (Mark 11:14; 20-21)
So often when we pray or receive prayer we can miss what God is doing or give up on our faith because we underestimate what is going on beneath the surface and mistakenly presume nothing is happening.
But Jesus’ example in prayer teaches us that:
1. It’s by faith that we receive the things we speak and ask for. Jesus rebuked the disciples for their lack of believing and faith. He encouraged them after seeing the result and power of faith filled words to “Have faith in God, and “whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mark 11:22-24).
If we lack faith the bible says to seek God and His way of doing things, and to build our confidence in His ability by hearing and speaking His word. His word and He are one, and it’s powerful when it gets down on the inside of us, and we allow it to transform us from the inside out.
“Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17)
2. Things don’t always happen the same way twice. Read the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) and you’ll soon discover that Jesus didn’t always pray, speak and minister exactly the same way. Sometimes He just spoke the Word, other times He spoke and then physically did something, such as when he put mud on people’s eyes or even spat on them.
Seek God for His methods and way of working in each situation you face, rather than acting in presumption.
3. The answer to our prayer is not always immediately visible. The fig tree looked like any other fig tree even after Jesus had spoken to it. Yet at Jesus’ spoken word something had began to change. That tree beneath the surface, at it’s core and root had begun to shrivel up. Jesus’ words and faith had already worked, but it was only the next morning that the disciples were able to “see it”.
When you pray or receive prayer for something don’t only look in the physical realm for evidence of the answer. Stand believing in the truth of God’s Word and the effective power of your prayer, knowing that “whatever we ask for in prayer will be ours if we continue to believe and speak God’s word”. (Mark 11:22-24)
Today, be encouraged that when you pray God will be working. Even if you can’t see anything physically, don’t underestimate that He will be working behind the scenes, at the root of the issue and on the inside of us. Take heart and trust in God’s faithfulness and goodness, as you praise Him for your answers.
Prayer: Lord thankyou that at your word things change, and that even if I can’t see the changes, that doesn’t mean nothing is happening. Help me to stand on your word, and to keep speaking and believing in your promises until I fully receive in every way. In Jesus name Amen.